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traditional omakase — yasuda or elsewhere?

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Looking for an omakase (mostly sashimi/sushi, not kaiseki) that is <$250 per person for a birthday dinner. The birthday guy prefers more traditional/simple preparations where the raw ingredients shine the most. We won't be drinking much, so alcohol costs aren't really a factor. There will be 4 of us, but we prefer sitting at the bar; we spend a lot of time together so not having the best set-up for conversation is fine!

Of all the favorite restaurants mentioned on CH for omakase (specifically in this recent thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/885504), I've only been to Sushi Yasuda. I sat with Yasuda, who I know has since left, and it was wonderful. I would definitely go back, but just wanted to make sure there weren't other places we should choose instead (15 East?).

If we do go to Yasuda, is there a specific chef we should request?

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  1. At $250pp you're essentially at the top tier of sushi places in NYC not including Masa and Kurumazushi, so this thread might be useful too: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/822153

    My recommendation would be for 15 East. Not only because the sushi is excellent, but because chef Shimizu had actual traditional training (7 yrs in Japan), and his wonderful demeanor and interaction with diners. Considering that you enjoyed dining with Yasuda (who was very talkative), I think you'll enjoy it and it'll add to the experience tremendously.

    The following thread was from an omakase meal I had there in January: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/887375

    8 Replies
    1. re: fooder

      15 East only allows max party of 3 at the sushi counter.

      1. re: Shirang

        Sad! But helpful.

        1. re: Shirang

          Really?

          I'm not doubting you, cuz I've only been there by myself at the bar, but from what I recall, it's dog-leg shaped, and the long end can seat 6 (maybe 7?) and the short end 2.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Per reservation I meant

            1. re: ipsedixit

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8826...

              "I called 15 East to ask for a reservation - they generally don't take more than 3 at the sushi bar, but I explained the situation, and they said it could likely be arranged (to have the corner 4 seats at the sushi bar which will hopefully still mean some reasonable conversation can be had). Unfortunately they only take resos 30 days out, so I'm going to have to make sure to call exactly 30 days before."

              1. re: kathryn

                Good to know, thanks kathryn (and Shirang).

          2. re: fooder

            Do you think we will be able to request 4 bar seats with chef Shimizu?

            By the looks of your photos (which are amazing), it looks like the kaiseki tasting menu, rather than the raw omakase. I would definitely consider it now that I've seen these pictures.. How much did it come to per person?

            1. re: shipshape

              You could probably go by what kathryn wrote above, or you could try to go around it by making two separate reservations for 2, just make sure your reservations specify that you want what will be the four seats around the "L" part (corner) of the counter where chef Shimizu works. I've never done this so can't say for sure how it'll be received.

              What I order every time is purely "omakase", in that it's chef's choice. The omakase at 15 East generally will have the octopus (must-try signature and other starters), sashimi plate, and sushi. I will sometimes ask for noodles/tempura and they'll add it into the mix, but you can also tell them you want just sushi/sashimi as well.

              The omakase usually comes out to around 140-160 per person for me foodwise in my experience depending on what's available and if I wanted any repeat pieces (I eat a lot!). On the occasion featured in that thread, we had the spiny lobster, which was an additional $120 split among the entire party. In all, the meal should fit within your stated budget.

          3. My vote would be 15 East.

            1. Seems like everyone is hands-down for 15 East, though that's not necessarily what I saw in other threads. Now I'm confused!

              2 Replies
              1. re: shipshape

                Which threads are you referring to? Sushi, especially omakase at the sushi bar, is often a very personal experience between the diner and the sushi chef. Everybody is going to have their own favorite sushi chef. One of the great things about 15 East is that he treats new customers as well as he does his regulars.

                The following are probably gross generalizations, so take it a with a grain of salt. I don't think I've seen a single post complaining about the omakase at 15 East. When I say this I'm referring specifically to dinner at the bar. There have definitely been complaints about eating omakase in the dining room. I also believe that most of the posters who advocate 15 East on CH have actually been to most of the other comparable places (Masa, Kuruma, Yasuda, Kanoyama, etc.). 4 years ago, before I'd been to 15 East or Masa, I would've suggested Yasuda as well.

                1. re: shipshape

                  Not everyone. Overall, I prefer the sushi at Yasuda to 15 East, but not by a lot.

                  You've eliminated a lot of the advantages 15 East has.

                  15 East has a better drink list, but you said you're not drinking much. They have better cooked dishes, but you just want sashimi and sushi. They're slightly more expensive, but nowhere near your $250 limit.

                  Yasuda does have a time limit (90 minutes), while 15 East is more relaxed. 15 East has a much smaller sushi bar, so it may be harder to get the reservation you want.

                  I find Yasuda to have a greater variety of fish within the same family (with the exception of uni).

                  You would most likely have a great meal at either place.

                  You asked about specific chefs - If you do go to Yasuda, I've found Tatsu to be friendly and accommodating.