10 Great Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig, New York Observer contributor, 02/27/2009
6. Sake Bar Decibel
240 E. 9th St. • 212-979-2733
Founded in 1993, Decibel is New York City’s first sake bar, although this East Village institution is easy to overlook. Its descending stairs are marked only by an inconspicuous sign and a telltale sugiyama, a hanging cedar-leaf ball—the traditional symbol of a sake brewery. Once inside, don’t be put off by the divey, lived-in look. The walls are scrawled with graffiti and the folksy Japanese knickknacks could stand a freshening up, but the exuberant 20-somethings who come to carouse don’t care a whit. The main room has a 10-seat wooden bar, adorned with enormous red paper lanterns, as well as little tables offering cheek-to-jowl seating. The sake offerings are expansive, though, with nearly 80 in all on top of beer and 16 shochu choices. Mu is a reliable sake for pure, delicate dishes like sashimi. This junmai daiginjo has a hint of honeydew melon on the nose and a smooth mouthfeel. Kamoizumi, a creamy "nigori" (unfiltered) sake, will enchant the sweet-toothed. The menu also has a fine medley of Japanese pub grub, like pickled vegetables and noodle dishes. Despite its dusty decor, Decibel still shines.
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