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Oct 25, 2012 01:46 PM

15 East @ table or Starve

Right now I unfortunately dont get to New York very frequently and I foolishly didnt make my 15 East dinner reservations far enough in advance. I was unable to get a sushi bar spot this weekend, but I do have a table reservation. I know the sushi bar is ideal for the best experience, but is a table seat worth the price? I dont want to waste my money and get a subpar experience, but Im also not sure when I would realistically be able to come back and sit at the sushi bar.

Any thoughts?

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    1. re: Cheeryvisage

      I agree with Cheeryvisage and disagree with the other posters. The quality of sushi at 15 East is far different at a table than at the sushi bar. Besides that it is prepared by a sushi master at the sushi bar and by the 2nd or 3rd chef at the table, the experience at the sushi bar is quite an important factor. Also, this argument of eating at your own pace is one I also disagree with. At the sushi bar, you get enough time between pieces to savor the taste. At at table, you get all of your sushi at once. It sits, it doesn't maintain the same quality as from the chefs hands right to your hand to your mouth. Also, with all the sushi in front of you , you tend to eat it much quicker than getting one piece at a time.
      That being said, try to get a sushi bar reservation at Brushstroke (with chimera-san), or Ushiwakamaru, or Sushi Azabu or Kanoyama or Yasuda, or Izakaya Blue Ribbon or Jewel Bako,,,,,, so many good options for sushi and all way better than being at a table at 15 East.

      1. re: foodwhisperer

        Thanks for the reply. I actually already tried calling Ushiwakamaru and was unable to get a sushi bar spot. Ive eaten at both Yasuda and Kanoyama already, so I didnt want to repeat those experiences. Perhaps Ill call Sushi Azabu tomorrow to see if I can get a spot at the bar.

        1. re: vnair2

          You will enjoy it. If you get in, get the ankimo and the shirako, sushi chef Hirado-san makes them better than anywhere I have ever had those. The sign outside says Greenwich Grill, sushi azabo is like a secret location downstairs . A backup plan, Brushstroke's Ichimura-san is a very good experience and they were not fully booked last night. There are no tables there, and only 7 seats.

        2. re: foodwhisperer

          Respectfully, may I suggest that you are known to the house, meaning the chef has come to know your likes and dislikes better, and so a table experience would indeed be substantially sub-par.

          The thing is, I've had a couple of occasions to compare 15 East with Sushi Yasuda, and based on my records, both times 15 East at-the-table (July & Oct) was better than Sushi Yasuda counter omakase (July & Sept), purely looking at the quality of the sushi.

      2. I know there's going to be a camp that holds that the sushi counter is the only way to enjoy sushi, but it simply isn't. (Yeah! take that!)

        The best thing about the table is that you can eat at your own pace, and really focus on the food. This is different from being at the counter, where you'll be engaging in a "dialog" with the chef. In other words, a table setting is more meditative and introspective. It's just you and the plate of food, and it is actually possible to experience "food highs" that way. I seriously recommend trying this if you haven't already.

        I have done table eating twice at 15 East, and both times were lovely. Get one of the omakase sets, and ask if the bar could help pick X additional pieces, whatever's great that day. The a la carte menu on the back page was great for dinner, but somewhat hit-or-miss for lunch. As for non-sushi items, I would say strong dishes would include: soba, tako, risotto, tofu, whereas weak dishes: sea lettuces, dobinmushi, duck, all desserts.

        4 Replies
        1. re: calf

          Agreed. The quality of the sushi isn't any different at a table. If this is the only reservation that you could get by all means keep it.

          1. re: H Manning

            I agree that the quality of the sushi is the same at the counter or a table, but if the pieces are all served at once, the initial perfection deteriorates as the pieces wait to be eaten. I wonder if it's possible to have the selection prepared and deliver to the table serially, in the "counter" fashion. This would avoid the problem.

          2. re: calf

            I think their Japanese style desserts(anmitsu, soba tofu, kuromitsu ice cream, warabi mochi) and their seasonal ice creams\sorbets are excellent. The composed western style ones(tempura rice pudding, panna cota) are kind of underwhelming

            1. re: Shirang

              Actually yes, the ice creams are good. One of the tofu desserts is good; the other one my mom and dad tried and it wasn't anything to write home about (they eat a ton of tofu so I trust their judgment on this). I didn't like the an-mitsu, because Kyo-Ya's is way better. And everything is so expensive! At that price, I'm thinking Acme or Tocqueville for great desserts.

          3. I celebrated a birthday with lunch at 15 East. I sat at a table. I was very happy with every aspect of the meal. That probably makes me ineligible for the omakase-super-expert-itame-bff club (Manhattan chapter), but I can't afford the membership fees anyway.

            1 Reply
            1. re: small h

              Ha, I went there last month for my birthday too! I sat at the table also. Not sure if sitting at the bar would have been better but I think my meal at Sushi Yasuda was better. I didnt order the Omakase dinner either so that could have been another reason. Or I was there on a day things were off.

            2. It really depends on what you are looking for. If you would like sushi, you should definitely sit at the sushi bar. For non-sushi dishes however, I find table seats are more comfortable. 15 East has quite interesting non-sushi dishes such as caviar soba, smoked ayu fish, or abalone risotto.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kosmose7

                I agree the non-sushi menu at 15 East is interesting, but it sounded like the OP wanted sushi. If the OP wants non-sushi there are many that would be a good choice ( including 15 East) but Kyo Ya would be at top of my list.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  With few exceptions, I would say Kyo Ya in general is closer to traditional Japanese kaiseki, whereas 15 East's non-sushi dishes are more like contemporary modern Japanese. So they are quite different in style. I like both places. :)

              2. it really depends on what the OP wants...personally, i would never sit at table at 15 East (unless there was some odd circumstance that warranted it -- e.g. an invitation from a friend who'd made a table res there, a dinner w/ someone who specifically wanted to try their cooked food, etc), because for me, the point of going there is sitting in front of Masato-san and having him make the nigiri which is a stellar experience...

                So if the OP wants a pure sushi omakase experience and the sushi bar is unavailable, then go elsewhere...(and for the posters who say the table sushi is the same as Masato-san's sushi at the counter: they have no idea what they are talking about: it is not the same, period) personal favs for other omakase options would be either Ushiwakamaru or Ichimura at Brushstroke...and with all do respect to foodwhisperer (whom i am extremely grateful to for steering me to Ichimura initially), i absolutely despise Sushi Azabu (3 horrible visits and never again)...

                But if the OP wants some very good sushi and modern-style cooked Japanese food, i'm sure the table would be pleasant, and one of the better overall Japanese options in town...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Simon

                  To be absolutely clear, I for one never asserted that the two experiences are the same. They *are* different, and again, I have been suggesting that it's in how one approaches each situation that matters.