Sake It To Me

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Happy Hour Issue: April 2016
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Taiko Fine Japanese Cuisine
1909 E. Ray Rd., Chandler
480-855-8388, taikocuisine.com

Taiko is like the Asian version of Boston’s Cheers pub – the kind of cozy neighborhood joint where bartenders greet regulars by name, or their favorite cocktail. Asian beers at happy hour cost $2.50-$5 depending on size, but the focus here is on rice wine. Monthly tasting nights invite customers to sample more than 80 sake and shōochuū varieties. Happy hour rolls start at just three bucks each, with all-day specials ranging from $1 miso broth to $2 edamame, $4 gyoza dumplings and $6.99 sake bombers. Grab a seat at the sushi bar and watch Chef Toshi work his magic on a $5.99 Tootsie roll topped with crunchy tempura flakes and eel sauce. Drinks including a lychee-flavored saketini will set you back just just $6.95; pair one with a spicy jalapeño roll ($4.50) or agedashi tofu ($2). Tu-Th and Su 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; F-Sa 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. 

 
 

Sun Asian Kitchen
2070 E. Baseline Rd., Ste. 112, Phoenix
602-268-7708, sunasiankitchen.net

Part Chinese takeout joint and part global Pan-Asian kitchen, Sun is where South Phoenix locals go to chow down on garden-fresh chow mein. The polished wood bar and marble fountain look more Tuscan than Taiwanese, but the Asian influence peeks through in kanji-carved woodwork. Hot sake, domestic beers and single shots cost $3 or less during happy hour, while simple cocktails are a wallet-friendly $3.95. Try a $2.25 Sapporo with chicken dumplings and shrimp tempura ($3.95 each), or chow down on beef skewers ($4.95) with a $7.50 bottle of Ozehi sparkling sake. The massive Volcano and Scorpion cocktails for two are daunting, best ordered with an island-style side of coconut shrimp ($3.95) and a handful of budget sushi such as $1.25 red snapper nigiri. Daily 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close.

Yen Sushi & Sake Bar
17037 N. 43rd Ave., Glendale
602-978-9022

This popular Glendale sushi haunt takes pride in presentation, from the lacquered tables and eye-catching sake displays to fresh yellowtail bites served on a teddy bear made of orange peels. Pop in during happy hour for $5 appetizers including gyoza dumplings, creamy shrimp and mixed tempura, all of which go down smoothly with Asian brews ($3-$4). Selected sushi rolls are just five bucks each, leaving some room in the budget for sake bombers ($5 each) and $4 glasses of wine or soju. House sake ($3 large/$2 small) calms the heat of the chili crab roll, piled high with crisp fried peppers, while spiced tuna tempura rolls are fun to pick up with your hands. Yen’s servers won’t bat an eye at this acceptable Japanese custom – especially if you have a few $4 cosmos or appletinis with the meal. Daily 3-5 p.m. and 8 p.m.-close. 

 

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