City Pulse

By Jennifer Witt

Gwen Stefani might call herself a Hirojuki Girl with her Love.Angel.Music.Baby, but I am the real deal – having spent my last Saturday night at underground Sake bar sensation Decibel. I’ve been there only a few times. It’s one of those places I remember but for a fleeting moment, only to have an instantaneous amnesia spell when someone asks where we should go for drinks.

With an exterior that’s purposely conspicuous, Decibel is certainly a destination spot for those in-the-know with a hankering for some seriously delicious rice wine. Served in a setting that’s part authentic Japanese (the waitresses are dressed in Kimonos, providing me with some real-life “Memoirs of a Geisha”) and part NYC (DJ’s spin house music to an eclectic mix of patrons as chilled out as the Sake is), Decibel has a loyal downtown fan base, and without a neon Bud Light sign looming outside, the out-of-town crowd is kept pleasantly at bay.

Decibel is not basketball player-friendly, so I would advise those same giants that like to sit directly in front of me in the movie theater not to venture into the subterranean lounge lest they want to do some serious head-banging a la AC/DC. I was glad my dinner date knew the correct pronunciations of the seven syllable-long variations of foreign drink, ordering with ease, while I was still trying to convert from saying SAH-Kee (wrong) to Sah-KEH (right).

It’s easy to go through myriad rounds because they’re served in small pitchers, and served further into little shot glasses, which I tend to throw back like a freshman at her first fraternity party. Speaking of rowdy college students, this is not the place to Sake bomb. Go to the cheap Sushi place down the street for that, you wild child.

By the time you’re ready to leave, the ambiance feels like an opium den (not that I’ve been, but I’ve seen how they are portrayed in movies like “The Doors”) – a little surreal and heady. Weaving through the maze of tables, your level of intoxication is determined by how deftly you can navigate yourself to the front door without overturning any people/drinks or tables along the way.

Emerging from the dimly-lit cave, I immediately awoke to the bright lights of the big city and noticed how the cherry blossoms of Ninth Street seemed to glow. Maybe it was the drinks. Or maybe it was just one of those perfect New York Moments.

Decibel
240 East 9th Street
Between 2nd and 3rd

Originally published May 2005
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