eat. shop. love. nyc.


Sake Bar Decibel
March 7, 2011, 10:00 am
Filed under: Drink | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Outside Sake Bar Decibel, an ON AIR sign surreptitiously marks the entrance down the stairs to this graffiti-covered izakaya on a quiet strip of E. 9th St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves. in the East Village. This sake and small plates joint is better suited for a date or intimate outing with a couple of of friends. It’s certainly not quiet, but it’s a cool place to go when you actually want to be able to hear the people you’re with. If Yakitori Taisho & Oh Taisho on St. Marks are izakayas for rowdy college kids and Village Yokocho is a step up from that, then Decibel is the hipper, tattooed cousin of Village Yokocho.

Once inside, you might notice the black wood, the graffiti-covered walls, and servers that look like they may have stepped off the pages of some Japanese manga – one of the servers when I went had half of his head shaved with the remaining long, straight hair pulled into a ponytail and looked like some punk rock samurai from the future. The dining area in the back is outfitted with the requisite red izakaya lantern and cat figurine but is otherwise dark, save for the light reflecting off of sake bottles from a few tea light candles.

The food itself is not exceptional, but it’s solid and makes for good snacking. The okonomiyaki with its billowing bonito flakes makes for a good stomach liner (even if the one at the takeout place Otafuku a block away is better). The raw squid was very wasabi-y and a little crunchier than I had expected – I would have gone with a thinner cute rather than little chunks, but it was still pretty good. The broiled dried sting ray is served in strips and tastes like a sweeter, slightly fishier version of the dried squid served in Korean drinking establishments, and it is served with a generous dollop of mayo for dipping – this was my favorite dish of the evening. We also tried the hamachi, which I didn’t care for as I felt the fish wasn’t terribly fresh. The Decibel tofu was nice, though fairly standard. I tried the sesame chicken and it was so gamey that I actually spit it out.

Still, I’d say it’s a good place to go and have some sake or shochu or beer while chatting with friends, but the strongest draw here is the atmosphere and the booze, and not so much the food. As long as you remember that, you’ll have an awesome time.

Drink: Sake Bar Decibel (East Village) 240 E. 9th St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves. (212) 979-2733. Open Monday – Saturday 6:00 pm – 2:50 am, Sunday 6:00pm-12:50 am.

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