10 Great Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig, New York Observer contributor, 02/27/2009
77 N. 6th St., Brooklyn • 718-388-8985
Provided you find it (the unmarked wood plank exterior suggests a construction site), Zenkichi serves up a transporting sake experience. This tri-leveled, shadowy fun house in Williamsburg contains a warren of cozy wooden booths, linked by corridors strewn with lacquered river stones. Bamboo-slatted screen doors provide the illusion of privacy. A call button is the only way to summon the attentive waitstaff. Tokyo native Motoko Watanabe created Zenkichi, along with her Jerusalem-born husband, Shaul Margulies. They offer more than three dozen premium sakes, without distractions like wine or cocktails. Omakase dining (chef’s choice) is the key, as are the sake accompaniments. The Taiheizan Tenko, a junmai daiginjo from Akita, has cantaloupe and pear aromas that adroitly complement dishes like tuna carpaccio dressed with sesame oil, white soy sauce and yuzu. The more robust Fu-in Shu, a junmai ginjo, has a decidedly floral note, and an acidity that cuts through richer fare like pork kakuni, belly meat simmered for three days until it’s unspeakably tender and buttery. Although a bit of a schlep for Manhattanites, Zenkichi is well worth the effort of seeking out.
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