We had been meaning to visit Hi-Collar for years but never quite made it there. That ended on a very hot July afternoon when we found ourselves nearby and went in to cool down with a coffee and, we hoped, strong air conditioning.
On its website, Hi-Collar explains that the name is a “Fashion-alluding term popularized during the Japanese Jazz Age” that symbolized “Japan’s flirtation with the West.” By day, Hi-Collar is “a Western-inspired Japanese cafe -popularly known as kissaten – specializing in siphon coffee & Kissaten menu,” but at night it becomes a sake bar.
We were in luck that hot day. What an interesting place, and comfortable too (the air conditioning was more than sufficient for the heat wave that we had been experiencing). Hi-Collar was full of Japanese expats enjoying a coffee and a nosh, and everyone was talking softly.
The space is small, just one long counter offering coffee many ways–pour over, aero press, and siphon–and a selection of snacks, including spongy Japanese pancakes that we will definitely try next time as the smell was lovely. When we entered Hi-Collar, we thought the background music was Sinatra singing his classics. Well, no. As we listened carefully it became apparent that what we were hearing was a cut-rate Sinatra–we didn’t know who–and somehow that added to Hi-Collar’s charm. It just seemed right that they went with fake Sinatra instead of the real thing.
After wandering around the hot New York City streets, Hi-Collar’s cold brew coffee with a scoop of dense vanilla gelato hit the spot–it was just perfect. Refreshed, we were ready to brave the sweltering city streets.
Hi-Collar is absolutely delightful– we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Yes, it could have been quieter if the music were lowered or turned off, but, frankly, the music added to its charm. Food is available all day and night, but the kitchen closes one hour before the place does. And don’t miss a visit to the bathroom at the end of the room. It’s pretty and offers a dazzling (if obsessive) array of toilet options.
Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Note: Kitchen last call at is an hour before the closing time.
Street (betw. 1st and 2nd Avenues), New York, NY 10003