Japanese Restaurant / Sake Bar
Party Earth Review The name of this sake bar is louder than its appearance as a flashing “ON AIR” sign beckons visitors to venture down the narrow marble staircase at Decibel, a tightly packed and very dark space highlighted by a single bar eerily lit with rope lights and decked out in a mix of old Japan and downtown Manhattan. With its graffiti-scrawled surfaces, waving good luck cat, miniature Gundam, and endless sake bottles, the décor seems straight out of Blade Runner, forming an obscure backdrop for the hip Asian post-grads and American students reliving their Japanese semester abroad as they lounge in branch-adorned booths or squint at the extensive sake ... more
240 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003-7530
While the Big Apple has plenty of traditional wine bars, sake bars in New York are a bit more of a rarity. The city has many Japanese restaurants with fine sake selections, but only a few spots specializing in rice wine for its own sake.
Easily the best New York sake bar is Decibel, the subterranean grotto on the Lower East Side. Its shadowy décor, complete with glowing backlit bottles, endless graffiti, screens depicting ancient Japanese legends, and the occasional foot-tall Gundam action figure give this hangout a charming Fashion Week-cum-Blade Runner vibe. Even better, though, is its sake selection, featuring everything from your most basic rice wine to tangy far-out selections sure to please sake connoisseurs. The bar’s barbecue bar food rounds out the picture, making it easy to lose oneself for hours in this over-stimulated basement bar.
Often, the best sake places to hit are the ramen and Japanese joints downtown and in Chelsea, which all pride themselves on their extensive collections of hot and cold sake. But while NYC sake bars are few and far between, they’re a necessary pit-stop for city-bound Japanophiles who want to please their pallets without committing hari-kari on their wallets.