izakaya_ten_facade.jpgI recently had an opportunity to return to our only local Izakaya outpost here in Chelsea. Newly re-named “Izakaya Ten” (207 10th Ave, 212-627-7777, formerly “Anzu”), this place has undergone thoughtful updates both inside and out.

The first changes I noticed was the striking mural enveloping the facade. The giant Kanji character above the door is “ten” which means heaven. Much of the interior has remained unchanged, which is fine as the design was always great with cool concrete bar at the entrance and soft lighting throughout.

Funaguchi_Kisusui In addition to changes to the outside, Ten has a re-tooled sake list and an updated food menu. The changes in these areas really add to the Izakaya-style dining experience. A few items in particular caught my attention and are really worth mentioning.

As usual, I’ll start with the sake! The sake list at Izakaya Ten was a pleasant surprise: prices are a bit lower than before, servings are larger and the sake brands featured are really solid contenders: Wakatake, Harushika, Nanbu Bijin and others. However, the real standout for me was far and away the Funaguchi Kikusui in a can. yes… a can!

friendly_staff.jpgI’ve never had sake in a can before, but most agree that canned sake doesn’t exactly have an upscale image in japan. However, what may be a humdrum drink in Tokyo is NYC’s fun and quirky speciality import! To top it off Funaguchi Kikusui (Honjozo, ALC 19%, SMV -2, Seimaibuai 70%, Niigata Prefecture) tastes really good. This sake has a bold flavor profile and a strong impact along with a slightly lingering finish. It’s a honjozo and an excellent example of what brewers can achieve when they add a bit of distilled alcohol at the end of the brewing process to enhance and expand flavor profiles.

pot_au_feu.jpgThe can opens with a pull tab like you’d see on a can of Pringles. There is a plastic cap in case you want to re-seal the can and drink the rest later. (yeah – like that would happen!) Once inside, this flavorful and smooth drinking brew hits you quickly – note the 19% ALC content! My first foray into ‘sake in a can’ was a great one and I’ll be back to Izakaya Ten for another soon enough!

For me the highlight of the food menu was a delicious chicken meatball and veggie Pot-au-Feu stew made with bonito broth that was just amazing. This dish was also served in the cutest little serious_sake_display.jpgmini casserole pan you’ve ever seen. Presentation earns big points with me.

My evening at Ten was a lot of fun. The staff was delightful and I could tell they were serious about providing a good izakaya experience.

With all the yummy things I tasted, my standouts remain. The hearty Pot-au-Feu stew and the robust Honjozo went together so perfectly… you could say it was a match made in, well, Izakaya “Heaven”.