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240 E. 9th St., nr. Second Ave. (East Village)
New York, NY
(1) 212-979-2733 | www.sakebardecibel.com
AMBIANCEJapanese Sake Bar
HOURSMon.-Sat.: 6:00pm-2:50am; Sun.: 6:00pm-12:50am
PRICE (CARAFE OF SAKE)USD 10-15
SIGNATURE DRINKAny of the sakes; Lychee Martini
BARYes - full bar of beer, wine, sake, shochu, cocktails, and spirits
FOOD SERVED?Yes - starters, small plates, sashimi, and desserts
PRIVATE ROOM AVAILABLE?No
SUBWAYAstor Pl. (6)
It may be hailed as the original and perhaps finest Japanese sake bar in the city, but Decibel is no show off. It sits below Ninth Street in a dark, dank, and faintly musty-smelling basement, serving a straightforward selection of warmed or chilled sake and Asian nibbles to Japanese expats and hip East Village regulars. Though the space is littered with Asian-abilia like paper lanterns, character-splashed posters, and kitschy Japanese trinkets, it’s not an attention-seeking display–given the bar’s hidden, subterranean, speakeasy-esque local you can count yourself lucky if you ever manage to see them at all. If you do ever find the place, it will be worth the hunt: you’ll be treated to the pinnacle of sake culture in New York–though small in stature, this low-lit bar stocks over 100 varieties of Japan’s finest sakes and shochu.
WHAT WE WOULD WEAR
It’s a pretty casual crowd here, so you’d fit in with a nice top, jeans, and fun flats. Later in the night, the place fills up with more hipster East Village types, so we might replace that low key top with a more something more flashy.
GO HERE WITH
A few friends; sake lovers
Japanese expats, post-work suits, groups of hip young things, and East Village scenesters.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Imbibing here is one of the truest ways to experience Japanese sake culture in New York. That, and its underground locale keeps it feeling like a well-hidden secret, even if the late-night crowds rid any disillusions of such.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
Waitstaff speak little to no English here, and, though it was fine when we visited, service has been said to be notoriously inattentive and even rude at times.
GOOD TO KNOW
The menu’s traditional snacks and soups pair well with the sakes.
Sakagura (New York)
Read more about Sake Bar Decibel in The Diary
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