10 Great Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig, New York Observer contributor, 02/27/2009
4. Sake Hana
265 E. 78th St. • 212-327-0582
For romantic sake-swilling, few spots can beat the Upper East Side's Sake Hana. The mood is immediately set by flickering tea lights ensconced in niches in exposed brick walls. Billowing silky red fabrics undulate across the ceiling, suspended by bamboo poles. Rows of backlit sake bottles add radiance. Even the bar, which seats 10, is aglow, with subtle neon lighting embedded in its Lucite top. The tasteful canoodling takes place on the nearby velvet couches and love seats. To arrive at that happy state of affairs, there are 40 sakes, organized by type. (As an offshoot of nearby Sushi Hana, snacking here is well above average as well.) For savvy recommendations, turn to Toshi Koizumi, the affable sake adviser. He might offer the Dassai 50, a crowd-pleasing junmai ginjo from Yamaguchi. With notes of strawberry and lychee, it’s perfect with the house’s fluke carpaccio. Ply Koizumi with smiles and he might share the "secret" sake menu. Opt for the Kagatobi there, an earthy junmai made with natural, airborne yeast. Its yogurt-like nose and lactic taste take the edge off an impressively spicy stir-fried squid.
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