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15 East @ the bar; advice?

I've seen a few figures bandied about here, and wondered if the $140 omakase was "standard" at 15 East's sushi bar. Or, might it be best to just tell the chef what I wanted to spend (the way I would've done it at my old Boston fave, Tatsukichi)? I would enjoy trying some, or at least a couple, of the kitchen's cooked/prepared dishes but am unsure if any would come as part of the "$140 omakase" that I'm not even sure exists (it doesn't appear on the website's pdf menu, but...). Any leads/guidance would be appreciated.

(My initial plan to have dinner @ The Modern was 86'd, if anyone's confused by the "double dip posting" - my apologies)

Cheers! -b.

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15 East
15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

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  1. Oh, and I'd like to keep the tab in that general vicinity ($140-$160 pre-tax, tip). Tx, B.

    1. The $140 Chef's Omakase includes cooked dishes. Fooder's review on his solo dinner there should give you a very good idea of what to expect: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

      5 Replies
      1. re: Cheeryvisage

        Any idea if that was the $140 set, based on your experience? It looks amazing!

        1. re: BrettLove

          Yes, that should have been the $140 omakase. Basically, ask for some cooked dishes as well and you'll get something similar to that.

          The meal I had in December (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829717) was the $140 omakase plus the Ise Ebi lobster sashimi.

          1. re: Cheeryvisage

            Oh, I'd seen that review, but didn't mentally associate it with you. Sorry, I'm usually better at noticing/remembering stuff like that!

            1. re: BrettLove

              Heh, yeah, I joined Fooder for that meal too. He did the write-up, I took the photos. :)

        2. My experience is based on lunch but I think you can just ask them to customize it for you. I did the $140 omakase twice for lunch recently. The first time it was about 30 pieces of sushi and a negitoro roll. There was also a half portion of the tako appetizer and a radish soup with bean curd sheets in it. The second time it was just the sushi and the roll. There would have been more sushi but he ran out of fish to let me try.

          5 Replies
          1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

            Wow! It's been a long time since I've had "high grade" sushi, and I'm really psyched about this.

              1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                I agree with SRI.

                Most places will allow you to customize as long as your price range is at or above the base omakase price. At some places, such as sushi seki, they have their standard progression, and your additional $$ will go toward some extra pieces at the end.

                1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                  Ha! I saw that mentioned somewhere, and was like "I've GOT to try that!" - I'm very much NOT a pix-taker, but I will try to whip out the cell-cam & "bust a flick" of that for you, UHockey!

                  Despite my better efforts, my posts/replies don't fall into order as I intend them to - that was a reply to "Rice Pudding Tempura" from UHockey, and the confusion over Fooder's/Cheery's identities "had me twisted"!

                2. Order the rice pudding tempura a la mode, please. Then take a picture. This dish alone makes me very curious about 15 East. :-)

                  http://endoedibles.com

                  1. And, in retrospect, [at "my old sushi place"] a waitress would discuss the higher-end sushi offerings du jour, along with prices & items from the "Japanese language specials list" (and their prices) that they kept on a handwritten list with regulars/Japanese diners; I/we'd never discuss money directly with the chef (or at least as best I can recall). -b.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: BrettLove

                      I've had some amazing sushi dinners here. If you don't mind spending a decent bit of money (e.g. $150-250 pp without alcohol), just tell the sushi chef you want to do a sushi/sashimi omakase and go from there. Throw in the cooked octopus and the fresh tofu at the beginning, they're both excellent. Always make sure to sample the different kind of Uni's, as well as the selection of more obscure fish if you like....however, the sushi chef will pretty much follow your lead.
                      When the sushi chef starts to ask if you're still hungry (it might be a while), that's pretty much when it starts being charged a la carte above the omakase price. I assume that's normal, but just be aware in case you are really hungry, and decide to do a couple of tastings of the three kinds of tuna or uni or similar, haha.

                      -----
                      15 East
                      15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

                      1. re: streamwise

                        Streamwise, that's great advice! Alas, when all was said and done, I imagined my dinner at the sushi bar (at least the way I eat sushi) would ultimately run me in that $250 range you mentioned, and I (due to budget constraints) was "forced" into changing my dining plans in order to facilitate the rest of my excursion. I will do 15 East when I'm able to order with relatively wreckless abandon - I absolutely adore sushi, and I'd rather wait another couple of months (about the time it takes me to save up the $$$, unfortunately) & be able to get seconds of things I enjoy, as well as not have to "worry" so much about the tab. I ended up having lunch at Bouley, and did dinner at Aldea (due to exceptional, and fair, values respectively). I hope to write a (hopefully) brief post extolling the virtues of Bouley's luncheon "tasting" (with 3 choices for all but 1 course - the sorbet/intermezzo - it's more a prix-fixe, if you ask me) which blew me away, despite some minor execution issues (which, of course, I hope to detail in my post). Aldea would've also qualified in the "exceptional" value category, had I selected their dinner tasting, which apparently has been lowered to $80 for 5 courses (+ amuse). I went รก la carte, as the short rib entree (Sat.'s entree du jour) sort of annoys me on a tasting menu... I'll try to elaborate on that at some point as well!

                        UHockey: So sorry about no "rice pudding tempura" pics, I hope to "next time" (but also hope you get a chance to see it with your own eyes before then!).

                        Peace & warm regards!
                        B.

                    2. I'm curious about this too, as we're going for our post-Valentine's Day meal. I don't see a specifically $140 omakase option on the menu, http://15eastrestaurant.com/wp-conten..., but there's a $95 sushi and sashimi omakase?

                      Also, I'm assuming it's much better to sit at the bar than at a table, particularly if sushi is the primary component of the meal? I already made the reservation on Opentable, so can't really edit it, but can we request bar seats when we get there?

                      Man, that Matsutake & Uni Risotto sounds amazing.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: janethepain

                        I would call in advance and request a seat the bar, and yes it's definitely much better to sit at the bar.

                        1. re: janethepain

                          The $140 omakase isn't listed online. But if you request for "Chef's Omakase", that's the $140 one. It starts you off with some cooked dishes, then moves on to sashimi, then sushi.

                          1. re: Cheeryvisage

                            Lucyj and Cheery, thanks! Can't wait.

                            1. re: janethepain

                              jane, i agree w/ what was said above: definitely sit at the bar...i'd call the restaurant and say you want to make a reservation for the bar...i suppose you could either explain about the Opentable reservation and say you want to sit at the bar...or, just ask if they have space at the bar, make separate res over the phone if they do (under a diff name than Opentable to avoid confusion) and then cancel your Opentable res...

                              1. re: janethepain

                                Had another lunch there and the "chef's omakase" was 170 not 140 as it had been the prior two weeks. I enjoyed it immensely but if you are looking to pay 140 pretax it probably would be best to make it clear prior to dining.

                                1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                  Whoa, what the... Anyone know how the $140/$170 omakase is different than the $120 chef's tasting menu? Yikes, I hope it's not $170!

                                  1. re: janethepain

                                    oh, also, if you like red and white wines w/ sushi, the sommelier does some great pairings...when i went back in November, i told him to go all out and he gave us a great assortment of glasses, half-glasses, and tasting portions...but that can add to the bill considerably...

                                  2. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                    Whoa, did they raise the price? Or was there something special about your meal (add-on's, etc.) that it ended up being $170?

                                    @Jane: Maybe the best thing to do is to simply call the restaurant and inquire about the pricing.

                                    1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                      I tried requesting the counter via opentable once, didnt work. I think the pricing depends on how much you eat, and Masato san has sliding scale which I think is pretty fair based on the number of times I have eaten there.

                                      1. re: Ricky

                                        The last time I ate there, at one point Masa said, your omakase has ended, if you want more it is a la carte. That is the first time he ever said that to me. I guess I ate an extraordinary amount of food. The sushi and sashimi were amazing , as usual. But it was weird hearing that from him. I've eaten there at least 30 times. I also drank a lot of sake, different types , and some shochu

                                      2. re: Cheeryvisage

                                        I ate alot as usual. I don't think I ate significantly more (somewhere in the range of 30 pieces) than the other two times I was there but I did try a couple of the appetizers. I didn't order them specifically, they were being prepared in front of me so I asked about them and were given a couple of the items to try. I also tried the uni/ikura soba. I don't mind the price at all as I think its a great value. I just wanted to let janethepain know that the price might change.

                              2. Regardless of what menu it is on, make sure to get the anago,

                                32 Replies
                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                  The wine or sake pairings make for a truly sublime experience.

                                  The sommelier is great and he did a combination of wine and sake pairings for us the last time. It was spectacular but literally double the price of the meal.

                                  1. re: Yaxpac

                                    This "epilogue" validates my feelings; maybe it's just me, but I find it detracts from my experience if I have to keep a rolling count of the sushi tab (or, really, have to worry about the $$$ at all)... I made my initial 15 East res. on Opentable, then called on the phone to confirm, and the res. agent offered me sushi bar seating before I could even ask. If you plan on going regardless, I'd do it like I did (minus cancelling a week before!). If it's "sushi bar or bust", you'll have to call (or drop in), but I didn't get the impression that this was as hard a seat to score as other hotspots in town (I believe I called 10, or so, days in adv.). They'll just edit your Opentable res., and you can still get your Opentable points (if that matters to you).

                                    1. re: BrettLove

                                      Sigh, just called to confirm my Sat night reservation and request seats at the sushi bar, but the hostess said it was full :(

                                      And she had no idea what I was talking about when I asked about the Chef's Omakase. She kept saying it was the Tasting Menu (which is on the menu as well, for $120), and when pressed, said flatly, "Well, that's what the [manager] of 15 East just told me."

                                      -____-

                                      1. re: janethepain

                                        The sushi bar at 15 East fills up quickly as it is small (I think it it 8 or 10 seats).

                                        I think that you are getting into semantics with the person who answered the phone.

                                        when I have been to 15 East the waitress always asks if we would like to leave things in the hands of the chef. she doesn't call it omakase, tasting menu or whatever. it was 140 the last time i was there...i think that it says 120 on the menu, not sure. it is one in the same.

                                        1. re: Yaxpac

                                          So the "tasting" and "omakase" are the same thing? I thought the omakase was sushi/sashimi only and the tasting seemed composed plates as well?

                                          http://endoedibles.com

                                          1. re: uhockey

                                            the omakase includes some small plates. If you don't want the small plates you can request only sushi and and sashimi. If you only want sashimi and no sushi you can request that too. They will accomodate you . Basically, omakase means "up to the chef" but the chef first asks you about allergies, likes and dislikes. So it's up to chef but you can customize it.

                                            1. re: uhockey

                                              I think the sashimi-sushi only "omakase" is what, $100? I guess the composed dishes add the extra $40 to the check.

                                              Basically, if you want some composed dishes, sashimi, and sushi, ask for the "omakase with some cooked dishes". In December 2011, this was $140.

                                              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                                I saw your pictures. Looks like a steal at that price considering all you got.

                                                http://endoedibles.com

                                                1. re: uhockey

                                                  haha, it's never a steal, it's a very expensive meal. But it is always delicious

                                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                    $140 for the number of quality fishes she got is an insane deal compared to what you're paying at top tier sushi spots out west.

                                                    Out of curiosity to those who've been, does the quality suffer if you take a dining room table vs. the sushi bar?

                                                    http://endoedibles.com

                                              2. re: uhockey

                                                When I've requested omakase at 15 East, we had just sushi and sashimi, and we ordered "extra" soba. Also, the price each time varied depending on how much we ate.

                                                1. re: Nancy S.

                                                  This was sort of what I assumed to be the case,

                                                  Tasting = maybe a sushi/sashimi course with plates, Omakase = sushi/sashimi only.

                                                  Their website address does not work (firewalled for me) and the hostess didn't seem to know when I called.

                                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                                  1. re: uhockey

                                                    I wouldn't eat at a table. You're getting end pieces and you might also be getting fish that was pre-sliced.

                                            2. re: janethepain

                                              I'm sure you'll have at least a decent meal at the tables...but if it was me, i'd cancel (and ask them to put on a waiting list in case any sushi bar reservations cancel), and go there another night when you can sit at the sushi bar...

                                              1. re: Simon

                                                I am a big fan and good customer of 15 East, the sushi at the table ,is not prepared by Masa the #1 chef. They give you all the sushi at once, so it sits there and sits on the sushi bar until they bring it. The progression of the tastes, the pause between each piece, etc etc,, it really is not good at the tables. I had 2 bad dinners at the tables there. They should take a 5 minute ride to Kanoyama and sit at the omakase sushi bar, then go back to 15 East another time.

                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                  Agree, and also note that when making a reservation at 15 East, it's best to arrange by telephone (and not Opentable) in order to secure a seat at the bar.

                                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                    Wow, you'd never think making a reservation could be this complicated. THis was supposed to be our V-Day dinner, but I'm thinking about canceling it now - if we're paying this much for food, it better be the best the restaurant has to offer. I'm not content with getting not-as-good sushi because I'm sitting at a table.

                                                    1. re: janethepain

                                                      At all top end sushi places there is a big difference between the sushi bar and a table. Masa is probably the only restaurant that delivers the most similar experience at the tables as at the bar.

                                                      Sushi at the sushi bar tends to be a very personal experience. The whole point of "omakase = chef's choice" is that the chef makes decisions and does not go by the numbers. eg. when we were having the anago at 15 East, the chef emphasized that it was to be eaten in one bite, and made a smaller piece for my friend versus mine to accommodate that. I'm personally against Opentable because it makes the reservation process so impersonal, and that is even more evident in this situation.

                                                      As for "Wow, you'd never think making a reservation could be this complicated." Have a look at this list: http://eater.com/archives/2012/01/25/...
                                                      This is the food world we live in now, especially on the high end.

                                                      1. re: fooder

                                                        Yeah, f this. There's a prime Sat 8pm reservation up for grabs now if you don't mind the cheap seats.

                                                        1. re: janethepain

                                                          This thread has been about eating at the bar and specifically eating sushi. I don't think eating at a table at 15 East is equivalent to "the cheap seats" because I think 15 East excels at many non-sushi items too.

                                                          From this review http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775009
                                                          My non sushi eating friend had a wonderful meal.

                                                          If you're really a sushi connoisseur looking for the best sushi, then yes it's important to sit at the bar, at any sushi place. But if you're just looking to have a good time with good food, I think a tasting menu at 15 East without focusing only on the sushi progression of a sushi bar omakase is still top notch.

                                                        2. re: fooder

                                                          I never have a problem with reservations. If i can't get one when I want I find a place that will get me in. It helps to be a regular diner at a place. But I've eaten in most of the really good restaurants, the first time i go at an easier hour like 6 PM or 10pm, but the 2nd time, i'm in at the better times. Sometimes it helps if you know someone and have the special phone numbers. Most "hot" restaurants have "special phone numbers"

                                                      2. re: foodwhisperer

                                                        Do you find this to be as significant if ordering plates as well?

                                                        The plan at this point is to order two of the sushi or sashimi 10-piece omakase (one for each of us) plus a number of the plates which we'll share.

                                                        http://endoedibles.com

                                                        1. re: uhockey

                                                          In my experience, there is difference if you order the 10 piece sushi "omakase" vs. if you order "omakase" without that restriction (and even if you stop after 10 pieces). The latter, again, in my experience, includes more interesting fish (ie no boring boiled shrimp) but, understandably, will cost more than the "standard" $55 price tag.

                                                          1. re: Nancy S.

                                                            I agree with Nancy, unrestricted is best

                                                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                              I don't doubt that, but the goal is to sample from the non-sushi half of the menu as well.

                                                              I wish the restaurant had an e-mail that worked or phone operators that were more knowledgable.

                                                              http://endoedibles.com

                                                              1. re: uhockey

                                                                You dont go to 15 East for the food parts of the menu. If you want some Japanese good food, go to Kyo Ya. Or try Kanoyama, and get both , including a great oyster selection

                                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                  ...then they shouldn't have that part of the menu. Just like they don't have a knowledgable hostess. Just like they don't have a functional e-mail. Kinda tells me something about their attention to detail.

                                                                  http://endoedibles.com

                                                                  1. re: uhockey

                                                                    My advice, have soba and then ask the sushi chef to seve you serially his 10 best pieces of sushi, ending with eel.

                                                                    1. re: uhockey

                                                                      I never had a problem with the hostess. They do make some kitchen dishes, but it's not what they are noted for. Katz's has turkey on the menu but they are more noted for pastrami and corned beef. If they have uni soba, that one is a good one. But they do not always have that. The chawanmushi is good too. But it is the sushi that is key and as another poster ( Nancy) says ask for their best 10 pieces and end with anago. They have fantastic anago.

                                                                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                        I think their uni soba is certainly worth getting (and any non-sushi dishes I've had) and for what it's worth, I've found the service once there to be impeccable, although I've tried to deal with them over the phone.

                                                                      2. re: uhockey

                                                                        The cooked food is actually very good to excellent. Comparing Kyo Ya's food to 15 East is kind of unfair. They're not exactly the same style, they're not even in the same regional style of Japan.

                                                2. I was there last night, at the sushi bar. I think I understand now where the confusion comes in.

                                                  I looked at the website before I went. It appears the printed menu lists a few "omakase" options: sushi for $55, sashimi for $60, sushi & sashimi for $95. They also list a "tasting menu" option, which, according to the website, STARTS at $120 - they compare this to a kaiseki. It includes a variety of cooked dishes, as well as sashimi and sushi.

                                                  However, when sitting at the sushi bar, after ordering drinks we were asked "would you like to see a menu, or would you like to let the chef choose?" We declined the menu, and requested that the chef choose a little sashimi and mostly sushi for us.

                                                  We were then served:
                                                  -Amuse: bamboo shoot braised in bonito broth
                                                  -Amuse: small portion of slow poached octopus
                                                  -Sashimi: A plate with 4 varieties of sashimi (toro, sweet shrimp, snapper, and I forget the 4th)
                                                  -Sushi: about 10 pieces of sushi (I know I'm forgetting one or two, but included were wild yellowtail, sea perch, big eye snapper, two types of toro, two types of uni, baby sweet shrimp, and anago)

                                                  As the chef (who was extremely friendly and informative about what he was serving) placed down the anago, he said that this was the end of his meal, but he would keep going if we'd like. We requested that he choose 3 more pieces of sushi and a tamago.

                                                  EDIT: following the tamago, there was also complimentary tea and mignardises - two mini macarons and two mini chocolate truffles.

                                                  When the bill came, dinner was listed as "Chef's Omakase @ $140." Hopefully that helps clarify more than confuse.

                                                  As for the food everything ranged from very good to phenomenal. This is in contrast to the time I had dined their previously, when sitting at a table and ordering the $55 sushi "omakase" where everything was fine, but nothing special.

                                                  -----
                                                  15 East
                                                  15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: lexismore

                                                    Good report Lexismore. It even clarifies some things for me, and i've been there 100 times. I will say i've never seen a menu, so I have no idea about the choices. I sit down and the chef gives me what he wants, and theres always a kitchen dish. When this chef was at Jewel Bako, there was no Kitchen dishes, so i'd start with sashimi and go to sushi. What is interesting is that you confirmed what happened to me last time at 15 East. The chef said the omakase is over and if you want you can continue , but you will pay going forward. I was never told that before , i believe i used to get as much as I wanted, and the chef would say "are you full yet?". But I think with the crowds waiting to sit at the sushi bar,, and it is already past their reservation time, he has to try to move it along. Some of us would probably sit there all night if the food kept coming.
                                                    In any case, I agree that the service is impeccable once you are there. And the Chef is the best.