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15 East - More Than Just One of the Best Sushi Restaurants in NYC (long review)


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15 East - More Than Just One of the Best Sushi Restaurants in NYC (long review)

fooder | Mar 28, 2011 12:08 PM

As usual, full review with photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

It had been quite a while since my amazing solo dinner at 15 East last year. This time, I went with two friends. The meal was spectacular yet again, but what made the experience special was how accomodative the service was.

This was extremely important to us, especially that evening. One of my friends had been having some serious back pain, and needed to be seated comfortably. The chairs were by far the most comfortable chairs I've ever sat in at a sushi counter. More importantly, One friend was not a fan of raw fish in general. We took three seats at the sushi counter, but they had no problems with our non-sushi eater (NSE) ordering off the kitchen menu. In fact, they were nice enough to bring us the menu from their (same owners) wonderful restaurant next door, Tocqueville. My other friend and I, meanwhile, had the omakase with some soba and tempura added to our menu, as I'd heard very good things about their soba and tempura.

Dinner starts off with edamame in seaweed salt that they give you as soon as you sit down.

WATERCRESS GOMAE Our amuse was a watercress salad with sesame paste. Crunchy, refreshing, and simple. A good start to the evening.

TASTING TRIO Our omakase started off with a trio of slow poached octopus, smoked ankimo with spicy daikon, and a simmered small fish with a sweet and sour sauce. The octopus was remarkably tender, and the pieces were cut much thicker than I remembered, which made it an even better bite texture-wise. Dipped into the seasalt, the flavor was superb. The smoked ankimo (steamed monkfish liver) was also delicious, with a nice sauce that matched well with the smokiness. The small fish had a very light sweet and sour sauce that was quite enjoyable. While we had these, they started our NSE's meal with a house-made miso soup.

DUO OF WILD SALMON AND YELLOWTAIL For our NSE's first course, a beautiful plate of cooked salmon and yellowtail, infused with sweet saikyo miso and accompanied by soy ikura (salmon roe) butter.

ASSORTED SASHIMI Our captain grated fresh wasabi for our sashimi platter, which consisted of mirugai (giant clam), saba (mackerel), cherry salmon cured with red vinegar, hamachi (yellowtail), seared Japanese black bass also known as "chicken fish", botan ebi (sweet shrimp, with head), and otoro. Everything was fresh and lovely. The shrimp was very sweet and the cured salmon was an interesting approach. I thought the seared "chicken fish" was the most interesting piece on the plate, as it was completely cold despite the searing.

BABY ARTICHOKE AND SPRING GARLIC RISOTTO with house made ricotta cheese. Our NSE's second course was a risotto from the Tocqueville menu that wonderfully represented springtime.

CHILLED SOBA Our soba course was delicious. The sauce was light, everything mixed together well, and the soba was very good.

SEASONAL TEMPURA Our tempura course consisted of two fritters made of tiny shrimp, mitsuba, and bamboo shoots. Excellently fried with a terrific texture. For me, this was absolutely amazing in terms of taste. The shrimp taste was so strong it almost felt artificial, like it was some chemically created chip flavor.

We then moved on to the sushi part of the meal. Upon my friend's first bite, she could immediately tell that the sushi rice was superior, especially compared to our trip to Masa.

SEARED KINMEDAI The smokiness from the searing worked really well with the kinmedai (golden eye snapper). Since this was seared, we urged our NSE to have a piece, and the chef was nice enough to sear it a little bit more "well done" for him. He really enjoyed it.
AKAMI Lean tuna which was extremely flavorful. Lots of places have some variation of toro. But to have lean tuna muscle be so tasty was a treat.
CHUTORO Medium fatty tuna is usually my favorite type, being more melt-in-your-mouth than other variations. This was wonderful.
OTORO Sometimes the fattiest tuna can be too fat and become a bit chewy, but this was perfect.
KATSUO Early spring bonito is hard to find and one of my favorite pieces of sushi. I actually asked for an extra piece as I liked this so much.
SMOKED SPANISH MACKEREL This had a smoky flavor that was very interesting with the sushi rice.
SANTA BARBARA UNI This variety of uni (sea urchin) is usually the cleanest-tasting one, and the one most recommended for those new to uni. This was one of the better versions of Santa Barbara uni I've had.
HOKKAIDO UNI This uni from the Northern Japanese island had a much brinier and oceany taste to it, and was my favorite.
MAINE UNI The uni from Maine is of the same type as the one from Hokkaido, just in different waters. I found this one to be too funky, with a weird aftertaste.
ANAGO The final piece of the omakase was the sea eel, covered with a terrific sauce that was not overly sweet.

During our sushi omakase, Our NSE had a nice assortment of palate-cleansing JAPANESE PICKLED VEGETABLES in preparation for his main course. For his main course, he got the CHERRY WOOD SMOKED DUCK served with shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and braised satsuma yam. He enjoyed this very much, even though the smoking meant that the skin wasn't crispy.

We're superhuman eaters so we pushed on beyond the normal omakase.

CHOPPED JACK MACKEREL The chopped jack mackerel was mixed with ginger, scallion, shiso, and miso. It had a delicious and bright flavor and was quite unique.
HOTATE Japanese sea scallop was very fresh-tasting and sweet.
TUNA COLLAR The chef likes to refer to this piece as being from the cheek of the fish, but it doesn't matter where it's from when it's this delicious. Lightly seared (well done sear for NSE), it was a great mix of fat and flesh.
TAMAGO Our final piece from the sushi chef was the egg custard. He explained some of the ingredients that went into this, but I was too busy stuffing my face to remember what he said. This cake-like, slightly sweet piece was a perfect way to end a long meal.

Except that we weren't done, and ordered desserts as well. These were pleasantly comped by the sushi chef when the bill came.

GREEN TEA AND WHITE BEAN CREME BRULEE This was really interesting. The white bean is just slightly sweet, and is a good bridge between the sweet burnt sugar and the slightly bitter green tea. It also added a little grittiness to the custard which I found very enjoyable.
SHIRATAMA PARFAIT Green tea ice cream with red beans was a very tasty combination.
BAKED FUJI APPLE WITH VANILLA ICE CREAM There was a terrific range of textures to the apple dessert.

My friend felt that these were the best desserts she's ever had at a Japanese restaurant.

In addition to the massive amounts of food, we also drank a good amount of wine and sake. The sushi really is amongst the best in NYC, but what really separates 15 East from other sushi restaurants is the quality of the cooked food from the kitchen, and the extremely accomodative service. A truly wonderful experience where both sushi aficionados and their non-sushi eating friends can have a great meal together.

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

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