During the impressive run of Maido Essential Japanese Cuisine on Frankfort Avenue, I found myself relaxing on the patio all too often, enjoying happy hour sushi and a beer from the always interesting tap list.
I used to joke that I may as well have signed over my paycheck every week to the Maido owners. Chef Toki Masubuchi has since moved on to open Dragon King’s Daughter, but I no longer have to live in a past where I could walk three blocks to get my sushi fix. With the opening of BARcode 1758 last year, not only is there Japanese cuisine, but also that lovely patio, within steps of my front door.
Oh, and there’s also happy hour. A very happy hour — when Song Kim, BARcode’s owner, offers up a short but impressive menu from 4 p.m. (when the restaurant opens) until 6:30 p.m. every Monday through Thursday.
You want maki sushi, aka sushi rolls? You can get your classic training wheels roll, the California roll, for four bucks during happy hour. The Yum Yum roll is $4.95, and you can choose from a Philadelphia roll (salmon and cream cheese) or an Alaska roll (salmon and avocado) for $5.95 apiece. That’s anywhere from a buck to two bucks off per roll, which ain’t bad.
For my part, I’m trying to empty the oceans of tuna by eating my weight in Spicy Tuna rolls (minus the cucumber) at $4.95 apiece. I could eat these things every day.
You can also get good deals on nigiri sushi (fish atop rice balls). For $2.50 per two-piece order (that’s roughly half price), you can choose from tuna, white tuna, squid, red snapper, salmon, scallop, shrimp, octopus and crab.
What that means is that you can get a fairly decent sized sushi feast, maybe even share with some friends, without the hammer of a price tag one normally expects from eating a ton of sushi.
Not into the fish and rice scene? Fair enough. I also am a big fan of Kim’s fried oysters. During happy hour, you get five plump, nicely battered and tasty oysters for $3. With them comes an interesting, mild brown dipping sauce. Like with the Spicy Tuna, I could eat these things daily too. You can also get a vegetable croquette for three bucks.
But a couple other interesting happy hour items to consider are Phil Bulgogi ($4), which is sort of a Korean eggroll made with beef and cheese, and the Spicy Pork Wrap ($4.50), which is lettuce-wrapped pork with a tasty sauce on the side.
Of course, no happy hour would be complete without drink specials — they wouldn’t be called “happy” otherwise, right? For the timid, domestic longnecks are a dollar. Yep. Dollar longnecks used to be easy to find, but I don’t see that deal much anymore. BARcode 1758 is now the exception.
But Kim keeps a reasonable draft list as well, with beers from West Sixth and Falls City among some imports and other crafts. During happy hour, Sam Adams and Sweetwater 16-ounce drafts are $3 each. Ditto for BBC, West Sixth, Falls City and the Japanese classic Sapporo (which was also a staple at Maido).
I lured my friend Chuck down to BARcode 1758 from his home way out in the East End (OK, Shelbyville) recently, and his reaction went something like this: “Why the hell haven’t you brought me here before?”
Yeah, I get that a lot when friends meet me for happy hour at BARcode.
Also, the skewers are always affordable and always tasty, starting at $3 for a pair of skewers (about eight pieces) with sharable, grilled morsels like chicken, shrimp, vegetables, mushrooms and quail eggs. Those things are like it’s happy hour all freaking day long.
I wonder if Song Kim cashes paychecks?