Sea Change

Oysters with the spirit of Japan

When husband-and-wife team Shaul Margulies and Motoko Wantanabe opened Zenkichi near the Williamsburg waterfront in 2006, it signaled Brooklyn's newfound seriousness about Japanese food.

But now the couple has decided to have some fun: They've converted Zenkichi's 40-seat garden space into Akariba, a sake-and-oyster snack bar that's a playful cousin to their more staid first restaurant. With its glassed-in ceiling and polished-wood detailing, the setting works for either a pre-night-out cocktail or a romantic nightcap–with a menu to match.

The rotating oyster selection (starting at $2.50 each) might include smoky-sweet Shibumis or firm, taste-the-ocean Widow's Holes. Match your oysters with one of 40-odd sakes (and sake-based cocktails) on offer; the crisp, complex rice wine pairs flawlessly with briny bivalves. We're partial to the supple Urakasumi Junmai sake ($13), but those with a sweet tooth may prefer the Bee's Devotion ($10), a shochu-based cocktail made with yuzu juice and honey.

If your date doesn't like the raw stuff, opt for small plates like grilled tuna belly ($9), or really impress by requesting the off-menu fried potato-mochi balls ($8)–puffy little treats you should eat with your fingers. Never mind your table manners: It's all in good fun.

Akariba, 77 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn; 718-388-6160 or akariba.com