Here’s Lookin’ at You: Zenkichi

ginban_banshu.jpgThe first review I read about the new Williamsburg restaurant Zenkichi called it a “funhouse”. I was a little bit puzzled bu this until I went my self and Scott and I were shown to our table.

It seems the designer thought that it would be a good idea in this darkly light space to put a full length floor to ceiling mirror at the end of every hall and around every corner. It made navigating my way to the bathroom after 2+ glasses of sake a bit… challenging.

This is not to say of course, that I didn’t have a good time. Zenkichi really puts the FUN in funhouse. The design of this mirrored space seems to emphasize privacy. All the tables are in there own little room, or walled off from one another. each little cubby also had a bamboo shade that could be rolled down.

ring_my_bell.jpgThe funnest thing was the call button on the table! The hostess who showed us to our table explained that we should push the button whenever we want a waitress to come to our table – she went on to explain that the waitresses didn’t mind because the button played lovely music back in the service area.

Well, faster than you can say arigato, I was pushing that button to order some sake! The sake menu at Zenkichi was concise and interesting, for example: Shimehari Tsuru Jun, Yomeiri Buni, Tedorigawa Yamahai Junmai, Suishin, Dassai Nigori, Suigei, Wakatake Daiginjo. Some old friends but several selections that were new to me.

Banshu_bottle.jpgI started with the Ginban Banshu Junmai Daiginjo (SMV +6, ALC 15.5%, Acidity 1.2, Seimaibuai 50%, Toyama Prefecture). I found this selection to be a a little “ricey” for my taste, both in the nose and on the palate. It was however, quite rich in flavor and thick in consistency. Enjoyable but not quite there for me.

The Second Sake I had was Shin Junmai Ginjo (Anyone out there know the Brewery?). The sake menu billed this sake as “Extremely Smooth and Clean; Does not interfere with any dish”. well, that really about sums it up! After an intro like that I really wanted to give this one a try. They were right! It is the Switzerland of sakes. totally neutral and I really, really enjoyed it. Sometimes you just want something smooth and easy and not all up in your face. Shin did this quite well.

The food menu at Zenkichi was small and concise and everything we had to eat was lovely and went well with our sakes. This is the perfect little place to hide away with that special someone for a romantic sake escape, clandestine rendezvous or secret business meeting. Give it a try – And when you toast your first sake, be sure to say “Here’s looking at you!” – changes are you will be.