The Happiest Hour at Sawa

The Best Happy Hour in the Gables? Sawa is a Contender

With an impressive list of discounted cocktails, appetizers and sushi rolls, Sawa Restaurant & Lounge – where Tokyo meets Lebanon – may just be our new go-to happy hour destination.

Here’s how it works: The tapas and sushi rolls are divided into four categories: bronze ($5.55), silver ($7.77), gold ($9.99) and platinum ($11.11). In the bronze section you have items like chicken, pork, shrimp or vegetable dumplings and baba ganoush. Our choice was the baba ganoush, a delicious eggplant purée with garlic and lemon that looks like hummus and comes with pita bread for dipping.

Baba Ganoush

Our silver selection was the croquetas de jamón. And while croquetas are neither Japanese nor Mediterranean, like the rest of the Sawa menu, it’s all about fusion here. Plus the béchamel dipping sauce is to die for.

Our tartar debate (tuna, salmon or yellowtail?) was settled by our waitress, who recommended the salmon for the gold category (above). Because the dish is drizzled with cilantro mayo, she also suggested squeezing a lemon over it to belay the spiciness. Also in the gold is the spicy tuna sushi sandwich, which came highly recommended in lieu of the spicy tuna roll. Think of a teatime finger sandwich but with spicy tuna and crispy onions sandwiched between sticky rice and covered with scallions and tempura flakes, sweet chili mayo on the side. The platinum menu includes tapas like the lamb lollipops and grilled octopus.

The drink menu is almost as lengthy. Sparkling wine, sake and beer are just $4.44 and wine, well drinks and Bellinis are $5.55. When it comes to the Bellini bar, you have a multitude of juices to choose from: mango, passion fruit, strawberry, raspberry, lychee and peach. We chose the lychee for a refreshing afternoon cocktail. Sawa also offers a ton of choices when it comes to mules for $8.88. You can stick with a traditional Moscow Mule, or swap the vodka and lime for tequila and strawberry and it becomes the Mayan Mule. The Kentucky Mule is made with bourbon, ginger beer and blackberries. The London Mule? Gin, ginger beer and blueberries.

Happy Hour in the outside courtyard is Mon. – Fri. from 4 to 7 p.m. But if you sit inside at the bar, these deals are every day of the week from 4 to 8 p.m. Located on the first floor of the Shops at Merrick Park, it’s perfect for late-afternoon snacks and drinks after a session of retail therapy. 

Mayan Mule and Lychee Bellini