Happy Hour at Kyatchi: Japanese Small Plates and $5 Sake in Kingfield

Kyatchi is a fun little joint with particularly good food for happy hour. Warm, welcoming, with a little Japanese kitsch, plus tasty organic and sustainable small plates and drinks, this happy hour encourages you to linger, eat, and drink sake. And they have double happy hours daily, including weekends.

See also: Kyatchi's Hide Tozawa on Minnesota sushi bars: "Most aren't doing it right"

Where: Kyatchi is at the corner of 38th Street and Nicollet Avenue, a hopping section of town that includes numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Street parking is plentiful during happy hour when most people are rushing home. Just don't park in the bus stop area, which is right in front of the restaurant.

When: Daily, 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. & 10 p.m. - close.

What's the vibe: Feels like a neighborhood joint with a clean, Japanese tilt. The walls are lined with Japanese baseball player shirts and a giant pop art painting, and the lights over the bar have fish skin shades. The bar and sushi bar are small, but very inviting. The early happy hour was a mix of drinks-after-work guys at the bar and families in the small dining room, so it's lively but not loud. The restaurant serves sake, beer, and wine, but no hard alcohol.

What can I eat for $10 or less: Happy hour has a special menu with select soup, salad, and daily combo skewers (2) for $5 or less, select sushi for $10 or less, and specials. The night Hot Dish was there Kyatchi had delicious Tempura Maitake (hen of the woods) Mushrooms with Green Tea Sea Salt for $8 and homemade pan fried Berkshire Pork Gyozas, also for $8. We had the daily skewer, which as one each Negima (chicken breast) and Momo (thigh) in a yakitori sauce (Momo was the best).

What can I drink for $5 or less: Sake! Hot or cold, Kyatchi has excellent sake and select options are available for $5 a glass. We had a glass of Momokawa Organic Nigori Junmai Ginjo, which is an unfiltered sake with a creamy, smooth finish. The beer on tap is also great, with the usual Japanese and quality microbrews and ciders. We sampled an excellent beer from Rogue called Morimoto Soba Ale (yes, Iron Chef Morimoto) which is made with buckwheat soba noodles. Kyatchi is working on getting some new craft-brewed beers from Japan on tap in the future, though craft brewing is a relatively new trend there. Wine and beer is $2 off per glass or tap.

What's so good it's worth getting even though it's not a happy hour deal: The thing is, if you look at the regular menu, half of the items are under $10 anyway, so we sampled the Nukazuke, which are subtle Japanese pickles fermented in rice bran for $4.50. The Hot Dogs with Japanese potato salad for $9 or less look amazing, as does the sushi, the noodles, the fish....

Swing by Kyatchi on your way home from work early (detour!) or after a late night out for tasty Japanese small plates and sake at ridiculously reasonable prices. And save us a Kimchi Dog.

Kyatchi 3758 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis

Send your story tips to Hot Dish.