I found Hi-Collar through the Yelp’s new restaurant listing and suggested it to the Boyfriend. Hi-Collar, located in the East Village, is pretty tiny with only a single row of bar seats. Hi-Collar refers to the fashion that was popular during the Japanese Jazz Age, which was a period of intermingling of Western and Japanese culture. This was really prominent in the decor as well as the slow jazz that was playing in the restaurant. Everything felt so elegant and laid back at the same time. During the day-time, Hi-Collar is a Western-inspired Japanese cafe that specializes in siphon coffee & a Kissaten menu. During nighttime, the restaurant turns into Hi-Collar Bar and serves sake instead.
We were presented with the menu, which is quite small. I’m perfectly fine with this because a big menu makes me very indecisive. After we ordered, we were presented with a complimentary mixed fruit soup. It was really light and sweet, which really opened up our appetites.
The Boyfriend opted for their pressed English Breakfast Tea ($3.50) and I opted for their Hawaiian Maui Coffee. Hi-Collar offers three methods for coffe preparation – Drip ($3.50), Siphon ($4.50) and Aeropress ($5.50). I opted for the Drip and it was so delicious! The coffee was so fragrant and rich. It was strong without being too bitter. I thought the Hawaiian Maui coffee was very smooth – I can definitely see myself coming back for just the coffee!
The Boyfriend decided on the Shokudou Lunch Set ($13.00), which features Japanese tapas dishes with rice and miso soup. The dishes, starting from left, are – miso soup, strawberries in a balsamic glaze, vinegar and ginger with seaweed, and a sour plum. The big dish was sliced beef, tofu and egg in a thin broth. The broth was extremely delicious – the sliced beef was extremely tender and the entire mixture gave a lot of flavor to the broth. The set was just enough to fill him up but not so much that he was too full.
I opted for the Katsu Sandwich ($8.00), which features Berkshire pork katsu with today’s salad. The salad of the day was a light egg salad, which I thought was amazing. The pork was very tender and the katsu skin had an amazing crunch. The sandwich itself is very simple but it was very flavorful at the same time.
We were so comfortable and in love with the restaurant that we decided to order dessert so we could stay a bit longer. Since we weren’t really in the mood for ice cream, we opted for the Hot Cakes ($6.50), which is Japanese-style pancakes with specialty butter. We opted to add seasonal fruit into the pancakes for an extra $1.50. This was a great decision because she added bananas into the pancakes, which is one of my favorite fruits to put inside a pancake. The specialty butter was a grape-butter, which is something neither of us have ever seen before. The pancakes themselves were some of the fluffiest pancakes I have ever eaten – and I’ve had my share of pancakes. One of the best desserts I have ever had!
We never felt rushed to eat faster or leave. Even when our dishes were cleared, our waiter or waitress never urged us to leave. In fact, we had to flag the waiter down to get the menu for dessert. I love the laid back atmosphere of Hi-Collar and I know I will definitely be back to try out the rest of their menu.