15 East Review
Well I wen't at about 5:50 on Tuesday afternoon to 15 East. I didn't realize they opened at 6, but I walked in and inquired if I could sit at the sushio bar. They checked and said it was ok. I ordered the Sushi Omakase (10 pieces of sushi chef's choice), and a bottle of sparkling water (Pellegrino).
I knew nothing at all about the restaurant going in, for what its worth. The chef came over and said hello. I would later learn that this was the greatest sushi chef I have ever been seated in front of. He served things one piece at a time, and explained in detail exactly what he was giving me. I was the only diner in the restaurant. He asked questions about me, I'm sure judging my sushi interest. I don't remember all 10 pieces, but there were some standouts. The lean tuna was ridiculous. It looked like maguro but was so soft and lean. Almost every piece was served with wasabi, which was most certainly freshly grated, although the only time I saw him grate it was for the Uni tasting which I'll describe now.
WOW! He told me he was glad I liked everything and that he was going to give me some uni. He served me a small bowl filled with rice and two kinds of uni side by side. He said one was from California and one was from Japan. The Californian was what you can get at any high end sushi bar. Creamy and magical. The japanese amazing as well, much deeper flavors, and more of a sea taste.
The torched baracuda with skin was also a highlight. This was one of the pieces that he took down a book from behind the bar to show me what he was serving.
After my 10 pieces, I asked him to give me 3-4 more pieces of his choice. The highlight of which was the torched oh-toro. He seasoned it with coarse salt and pepper and torched it then handed it over. It melted in my mouth, and the fat completely coated it. It was amazing. Second favorite behind the Uni tasting,
I also was served the massaged octopus that Bruni mentioned in his review. It was amazing, and the chef dedicated some of his banter to how he did it.
I loved his use of various japanes citrus, and his explanation of each. He is so talented. Everything was truly magical.
Throughout the meal I became much more comfortable with the chef, his stories were great, and he showed so much of an interest in me. I can't wait to dine with him again.
There is so much more I haven't mentioned, go and learn on your own.
Dinner for 1, Sushi Omakase plus 4 additional pieces and a bottle of Pellegrino came out to $115 w/ tax and tip. Worth it...for the fish and service...almost worth it. It couldve been maybe $15-$25 less. I'd do it again though.
NOW...of course comparing it to Yasuda...I enjoyed it more...for the service and quality. However, each piece of fish I had at Yasuda was more individually memorable, while the meal at 15 East was more memorable overall. Tough call, however, Chef Yasuda definetely has to watch out for chef Masato Shimizu soon. Can't make a decision.
Great meal though, I reccomend it.
I just read about this place this morning in the 8/13 issue of The New Yorker (Tables for Two). If you haven't read this review by Ligaya Mishan here's a quote: "...at the sushi bar on a recent night, surprises were legion. The slow-poached octopus was almost absurdly tender, having arrived live at the restaurant that morning and apparently massaged to death."
Fantastic sushi, though I can't say I had the same one on one experience as you. I went last Thursday night, it was VERY busy, had the ten piece Tuna Flight, squid ink risotto to start, rice pudding tempura for dessert, and some tasty imported beer. Total was around $160 inc tip but definitely worth it.
The torched oh-toro really is fantastic, it's crisp the first time you bite and then melts into salt and pepper flesh, it's like the yin and yang of fine sushi, all push and pull and contrast.
All this talk of rice and fish makes me wanna go to Yasuda for lunch, hmmm.....
OK just got back from Yasuda and.......... Wow. 15 East doesn't even compare. Maybe I need to sit at the bar at 15 and have the chef serve sushi straight, but the king salmon at Yasuda may well have been the finest sushi I've had in the western world. They get the warm rice and cold fish concept perfectly, unlike most restaurants which have luke-warm fish and cold, hard rice.
I'm not saying 15 east isn't good, it's great, far better than most of the sushi places in the city, but Yasuda is in another league entirely.
Also, what's the $350 a head sushi restaurant in the city?