10 Great Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig, New York Observer contributor, 02/27/2009
7. Chibi's Bar
238 Mott St. • 212-274-0054
For a sake hideaway that makes a personal statement, Chibi’s Bar has no equal. It’s named after a pudgy French bulldog, whose likeness in innumerous portraits provides the decorative accents. The owner of both the bar and the pooch is Marja Samson, an eccentric Dutch performance artist/photographer/filmmaker who is also the force behind adjacent Kitchen Club. The place has a romantic European feel, with orange-painted walls and brown-painted wainscoting all lit by an imposing brass chandelier. The bar, topped with salmon-colored marble, seats only four and is more for show; the flirty 30-something clientele favors the intimate tables. There’s no discernible order to the 17-bottle sake menu, aside from being Marja’s favorites. Fortunately, her palate is spot on. The Wakatake junmai daiginjo from Shizuoka pairs nicely with addictive mushroom dumplings. The Kaori junmai ginjo has a faint aroma of flowers and cucumber, as well as a refreshing citrus note, and goes surprisingly well with a cheese plate wrangled from nearby DiPalo Dairy. In business since 1997, Chibi’s Bar has the tenacity of a bulldog, as well as its offbeat charm.
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