At 240 East 9th Street (between Stuyvesant St and Second Ave) down a nearly anonymous staircase, Decibel is a gritty gem of a hole-in-the-wall. The exhaustive menu of around 100 sakes coupled with the secretive vibe and the many Japanese patrons makes you feel like you could be in an after-hours Tokyo dive. They have Junmai, Ginjo, Honjozo, and Daiginjo varieties along with unfiltered and “unique” sakes, such as hot yuzu sake, and they also serve Japanese shochu. It’s a great place to go to after dinner with friends if the evening demands more drink and conversation. If you get hungry, they also serve small dishes, both savoury and sweet, such as edamame, dumplings, okonomiyaki, kasutera, and cheese mushi cake.
Kasutera/Castella is a deliciously dense sponge cake, which the Japanese perfected upon its introduction to their country by the Portuguese. The cake is named for Castile in Spain, whence the various appellations of Pan di Spagna (Italian), Pão de Castela (Portuguese), etc., all meaning bread from Castile or bread from Spain. It is also similar to the French Génoise cake. Neither too sweet nor too dry, this Japanese version of a very common European sweet is worth seeking out, just like Decibel itself.