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Yasuda v 15 East v Ichimura

Trying to decide on a good sushi meal in the next month.
We have narrowed it down to Yasuda, 15 East, and Ichimura.
We have visited Yasuda twice, we loved it both times but felt our second visit (after Yasuda left) wasn't quite as good (a little heavy handed with the wasabi). Though still amazing sushi.
15 East was also excellent. The downside there was that we went at lunch and it felt a little overly formal (we were alone at the corner of the bar) and we did not get to meet Masa because he didn't work that day.
We have never been to Ichimura but of course have heard all the great feedback. The only downside there is that it is only open for dinner and we were thinking of doing a lunch. Also, we do enjoy talking to the sushi chef but hear Ichimura is very soft spoken.

So now we are trying to decide between a lunch at Yasuda, a lunch I dinner at 15 East with Masa, or a Ichimura dinner.

What do you recommend?

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  1. If you had lunch at Yasuda and enjoyed it, I would stick with Yasuda. 15 East is my favorite sushi restaurant, but lunch is not even close to the same experience as dinner. Even the assortment of fish is much limited durning lunch.
    Ichimura is soft spoken but he is a nice guy and will certainly speak to you. Don't expect a long heavy conversation, the guy concentrates on making the sushi.
    15 East for dinner would be my choice.

    4 Replies
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      So how about just from a purely sushi perspective? Still 15 East at dinner?
      Or ichimura or Yasuda?

      1. re: Heeney

        Purely sushi perspective: 15E, dinner at the sushi bar, but must be with Masa. Ichimura second. Yasuda without Yasuda distant third. Would probably put Nakazawa in there as tied for second, but in my experience, not as good as 15E with Masa.

        1. re: strangemd

          Yes. We would have to be with Masa at 15E.
          We have also thought about Nakazawa but are planning for a backup since it's hot right now.

      2. I'd say 15 East with Masa for sure.

        12 Replies
        1. re: lexismore

          Ok. So if we did lunch at 15E with Masa instead of dinner, how much are we sacrificing for that?

          1. re: Heeney

            I'm not sure exactly which menu items foodwhisperer is referring to with lunch vs dinner.

            I've had lunch with Masa many times. I tend to just go for sushi, and I haven't found it lacking at all - usually have 15-20 different pieces, with an offer to continue, so there's certainly a decent amount of variety at lunch. I have seen people do a full omakase at lunch as well, with kitchen dishes and sashimi.

            There was one time where Masa was marinating some Ikura from Japan that he said wouldn't be ready until dinner time. I suppose there could be other things like that.

            1. re: lexismore

              I dont even think he works lunch much recently. A few times I have walked by and seen his assistants serving customers.

              1. re: Shirang

                He's off Mondays, and there are some other days (it varies which) that he doesn't work lunch.

                But I have lunch with him next Friday, so I sure hope he's working.

                Just request Masa when you make the reservation.

            2. re: Heeney

              Lunch with Masa is OK. Not even close to dinner. Less variety, more rushed. Masa may not even serve you. He is busy thinking about dinner and preparation. Dinner is his main "act"

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Interesting, that hasn't been my experience at all. I've had lunch with Masa many times. He served me. It wasn't rushed. There was a lot of variety. It was great.

                I'm not saying dinner isn't also great, but lunch with Masa is one of my all-time favorite sushi experiences.

                1. re: lexismore

                  Even Masa apologized to me for lack of assortment and lack of normal attention during lunch. That being said, I've only gone there once for lunch, so maybe it was that day. But he did kinda say lunch isn't the same as dinner.

            3. re: lexismore

              As an update - had a great lunch with Masa today. He had a number of less-common things, like mantis shrimp and baby sea eels.

              He did say he is now only doing lunch service on Fridays. It's a recent change, and he seemed very happy about it.

              1. re: lexismore

                Only on Fridays.
                Ok. That is very helpful. Thanks so much!

                1. re: lexismore

                  Is Masa still only doing lunch service on Fridays?

                  1. re: Heeney

                    I believe so. Haven't been for about a month. I think he is/was on vacation around now, probably worth a call.

                    1. re: lexismore

                      I think he leaves for Japan/Thailand this week

              2. So just a quick update:
                We scored a reservation at Nakazawa so given how hard that was it trumped all the others for a dinner.

                However, we still want to do a lunch at either 15 East or Yasuda earlier that week.
                The downside is that we can't do it on Friday. And I guess that is the only lunch that Masa works now?

                So I guess its either lunch at 15E without Masa or lunch at Yasuda with Mitsu.

                What would you suggest?

                18 Replies
                1. re: Heeney

                  I'd definitely do Yasuda over 15 East without Masa.

                  I see in your original post you said you found Yasuda too heavy-handed with the wasabi. Was that with Mitsu? I don't know him, so can't comment. I will say, I've had very good experiences with Tatsu at Yasuda.

                  1. re: lexismore

                    It was neither actually. They sat us down at the far left which I think is where the chef with least tenure is traditionally set up. Our time with Yasuda himself was wonderful.
                    This may be why. I made a lunch res with Mitsu.

                    1. re: lexismore

                      Quick update:
                      Had sushi at Yasuda today with Mitsu and it was great. That last time must have been a fluke due to the sushi chef. But Mitsu's was excellent. Every bit as good as Yasudas if not better.
                      It was actually a great experience because Yasuda never seemed into "omakase". It was always a set from the menu and then every time asking "how about...?" And us always saying yes.
                      with mitsu we just asked for omakase and he asked what we don't like. After we said nothing he just went to town with a pageant of good stuff. We lost count but it felt close to 20. After the toro roll I wasn't sure if he was just going till we said uncle but we said we were ready to wrap up.
                      Superb sushi as we always remembered.
                      Wonder if he actually does have a pre-planned stopping point and we jumped the gun?
                      Oh well.

                      1. re: Heeney

                        I had heard that Sushi Yasuda serves it's omakase all at once or maybe in a two course meal with each course having 8-10 pieces. Is that true?

                        At Nakazawa, it is a different course for each piece is also what I've heard. I'm planning for my first omakase, would you tell us about your update?

                        1. re: HighHanded

                          Every time I've been to Yasuda and eaten at the bar the omakase is piece by piece served by hand.
                          Of course, now and then they'll serve two or three together like flights.

                          1. re: HighHanded

                            Many places will give you sashimi all at once. But sushi omakase at the sushi bar is always one at a time, except for a place like Blue Riboon where a waiter will take your order and give it all at once ( unless you say I want one at a time omakase). At a table it is different. At Nakazawa you get 3 pieces at a time. Yasuda is one piece at a time for sushi at the bar. 15 East is also.
                            I am not sure of your sushi experience and what fish you like. If you don't like "fishy fish" or uni or guts. Then maybe I'd recommend Sushi Gari for your first omakase., of modern style ( creative and good quality fish). If you want more traditional then I'd recommend 15 east, Ichimura, Jewel Bako, Kura, Sushi Dojo , Sushi Ko, Soto.
                            I wouldn't recommend Blue Ribbon Izakaya , even though i love the place. The Omakase experience will be lacking because the chef gets too busy with the table orders. It takes away from the attention you will get at the others listed.
                            I don't recommend yasuda for personal reasons.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              'I don't recommend yasuda for personal reasons.'

                              I'd love to know..
                              Last time I had lunch there, sushi quality was so bad that I was embarrassed I recommended the place to my friend visiting NYC. The service was very cold too. Much different than what I had experienced before.
                              Of course the huge guy who sat next to us chomping down 248 pieces of sushi didn't really help the experience either. ha

                              1. re: Monica

                                My reasons are, I have gotten inferior food there. My complaint was pretty much ignored. When I got up to show Yasuda what my problem was, the manager stopped me and said I am insulting the chef. That he would take care of it. He didn't take care of it. Also, I knew Yasuda from previous visits, so I surely wouldn't have been insulting him. The management were complete dh's. I had good meals there directly from Yasuda at the sushi bar with no problem and the different eels were great. After those visits I had major issues with those folks and never returned.

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  LOL,for me Yasuda is not even in the top flight of sushi restaurants in the City even when Yasuda was still there. I too had a bad experience there with Yasuda being a dh. And I know him since he first landed in America. But bottom line is that the sashimi sucks and they rush you through dinner and they serve the smallest nigiri in town. Cut every fish the same way.

                                  I also think that Nakazawa is over-rated and is benefiting from fan boy blindness. It is good, but not that good. I do not care if I ever go again.

                                  15 East and Ichimura are two of the best and not comparable styles. Different but both great.

                                  I would throw Ushiwakamaru in there with Hide as third.

                                  And I still love Seki. He does traditonal sushi for me and there are certain things like jellyfish that he does better than everyone else.

                                  1. re: sushiman

                                    It's nice to see when someone has similar thoughts on places. Nakazawa is way overrated. I think it is ridiculous that he doesn't cut a fish also. The head chef at Blue Ribbon Izakaya works at sushi Seki in the day time. He is really very good. The fish is good, the non fresh wasabi is a let down. A very good deal, but not on same level as 15 East, Ichimura or Ushi

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      ... and, sadly, looks like Ushi is closing at the end of the year.

                                  2. re: foodwhisperer

                                    +1 I will never go back to Yasuda, I was so embarrassed that I brought my friend to an awful and rude dinner there that left her flabbergasted.

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8752...

                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                      i hear ya...... if Yasuda is Yin 15 East is Yang.

                                2. re: foodwhisperer

                                  A thank you to everyone who replied.

                                  I have not tried omakase before and I really don't know my sushi besides the occasional sushi restaurants in manhattan. I do however like what I am eating and my cousin recommended me to try my first omakase.

                                  I have not tried uni or "guts." or anything out of the ordinary besides salmon, tuna, white tuna, yellow tail, masago, tomago, iku, ikura, king salmon.

                                  What do you guys suggest in preparation for my first omakase? Try all the sushi in a sushi restaurant?

                                  1. re: HighHanded

                                    Although I love Ichimura, I don't suggest that place for a first omakase. I think you will appreciate it more once you have a few other omakase meals experienced.
                                    I think you would enjoy Omakase at Kanoyama ( in the back with Nobu-san)
                                    Jewel Bako would be a nice experience
                                    Sushi Gari or Sushi Seki ( for modern style creative omakase)
                                    Sushi Dojo
                                    All of the above, only sit at sushi bar , not at a table.
                                    No need to prepare for the meal. Just be hungry. The chef will give you what he thinks would be good. Just go for it. If there is something you think you hate , tell the chef when they say "any allergies" and you hate raw egg for example, just say no raw quail egg please.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      Thank you. Is there any reason you don't suggest Ichimura first?

                                      1. re: HighHanded

                                        Too many exotic, strong tasting , if not fishy things.
                                        As far as the sushi goes, you will get a piece of fish on sushi rice , that's it. Clean and simple. For a kind of sushi beginner, the other places mentioned tend to get creative with the fish.
                                        Seki and Gari being extremely so. Like foie gras sushi.
                                        Kanoyama very artful dishes. The chef is very friendly. He will tell you about the fish. If you like something tell him it is good. They like hearing it. Not all the courses are sushi, some sashimi. Some seared.
                                        You might be disappointed with the clean, simplicity of Ichimura. Maybe expecting something gourmet , yet it is that simplicity that makes it special. But first experience other places , that's my opinion. Also, Ichimura , a very nice guy, but speaks very softly, his English isn't great. There will be more interaction with chef in other places.
                                        Hopefully, other Ch'ers won't misinterpret what I'm saying here. But i find the sushi experience , builds over the years. Start in shallow water before going to the deep water.

                                    2. re: HighHanded

                                      For a first omakase I would do Sushi Dojo for more casual or 15 East for more fancy.

                                      Very accessible, but still great and traditional.

                                      Gari and Seki are fun too, but since they're essentially creative twists on traditional sushi, I feel like it's better to experience the original first. But that's just me.

                                      And yes - make sure you're at the bar.

                                      At Dojo, I like David, although others on this board have had good experiences with other chefs there.

                                      At 15 East, definitely reserve with Masa.