10 Great Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig, New York Observer contributor, 02/27/2009
8. Izakaya Ten
207 Tenth Ave. • 212-627-7777
With Izakaya Ten, Chelsea’s gallery goers and art moguls have a sake-fueled local hangout. It’s the brainchild of Lannie Ahn, who previously ran Korean-French-fusion spot The D’Or Ahn and the sushi-driven Anzu in the same space. She’s now hit her stride with this cozy gastropub that serves up more than 40 kinds of sake, 15 shochus, a smattering of beers and wine, and homey fare. The bar, which seats eight, is monumental, made of ultra-smooth black concrete. There are also stubby wood tables and a hilarious Manga-style poster of a giant octopus attacking a seaside village. The menu lists three-dozen sakes with descriptors like “mild and complex,” as well as dots to denote smoothness. For better targeted advice, ask the bartender instead. She might recommend the Tamano Hikari “Yamahai,” a junmai ginjo made with pre-modern methods. Its pleasing tang goes well with monkfish liver and ponzu sauce, or chicken meatball skewers. For pairing with green tea flan, try the Funaguchi Kikusui, a nama (unpasteurized) sake that comes in a cheeky 200 ml can. It’s rich, sweet, lively and, at 19% ABV, packs a serious wallop.
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