Curious wanderers may not-so-easily stumble upon the latest speakeasy concept to populate Flushing’s Murray Hill neighborhood: Below Shaku, a covert, 25-seat bar inspired by Shanghai’s Golden Age of the 1930s.
Decor-wise, the space feels clandestine yet luxurious, with dim lighting, red accents all around and unpolished nero maquina walls.
In addition to its hard-to-find location (the joint is inside a mall that’s also home to an H Mart, manicure salons, a decades-old pho shop and Shaku Ramen, an unassuming full-service ramen restaurant that sits atop the speakeasy and is operated by the same management), the venue hopes to stand out through its drink menu, which focuses on DIY fresh fruit soju drinks that patrons will be able to mix for themselves.
Expect the clear Korean liquor to be served in a teapot filled with your choice of fresh fruits (think lemon and strawberry, for example). More traditional cocktails will also be on offer alongside premium bottles of sake and champagne.
There are two ways to enter the premises: either through a nondescript black door right by the entrance to Shaku Ramen or through the restaurant itself (you’ll have to walk through the kitchen and find a flight of stairs to take you down if choosing the latter option).
Upstairs at Shaku Ramen, patrons can delight in a variety of dishes anchored by a pretty solid ramen menu, which features hearty pork and meat-based options alongside vegetarian ones.
Standout dishes include grilled skewers of leeks and scallions (trust us, try them), Szechuan smashed cucumbers marinated in a blend of spices and oils, bao buns, a braised pork belly taco with pico de gallo drizzled with spicy mayo and served on a warm tortilla, fried enuoki mushrooms powdered with black truffed and served alongside a house-made truffle aioli and the butadon bouquet, made with thin petals of smoky-sweet pork belly atop a bed of rice.
There’s a whole rice bowl menu to browse through as well (the veggie curry is particularly flavorful).
Although Below Shaku comes after the likes of Attaboy, Bathtub Gin and Joyface in Manhattan, the pairing of ramen and soju certainly strikes a chord—especially considering the fact that Murray Hill is pretty much devoid of exciting cocktail destinations.
Find it at 156-30 Northern Boulevard in Flushing’s Murray Hill.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.