NYC Sushi: 15 East (Dec. 2012)
March 13, 2014 Note: We’re going to have a second update on this restaurant soon. We’ve come back at least five times since December, and right now it’s probably Monty’s, Steven’s, and my favorite sushi restaurant in the city. The rice is generally great, and the fish is always fresh.
Authors: Victor and Monty
Restaurant: 15 East
Chef: Masato Shimizu
Date: December 4, 2012
-The fish was great, though it was worse than Sasabune’s, Yasuda’s, or Masa’s.
-Temperature-wise, the rice was about right. Texture-wise, it was lacking at times; the rice would occasionally be too hard, while at other times it was just right. The fluctuation was bizarre.
-In terms of the whole experience, we really enjoyed it. The chef smiles and talks with you a lot, so it’s more enjoyable to eat here than at some other great sushi places.
Monte: The experience is definitely uplifted by the pleasant chef behind the counter who is so friendly to the diners. This place is super unpretentious while still maintaining excellent sushi.
Red bean tofu.
Monte: Tasted more like tofu than red bean, but it’s a fun appetizer.
1. Shima aji (striped jack). (Hard rice!)
2. Madai (snapper) from Japan. (Hard rice!)
Monte: Yummm this snapper just had this great feel in the mouth, almost like the way a good cup of coffee has a full body to it. It kind of just filled my mouth and the flavors were pretty wonderful.
3. Kinmedai (golden eye snapper).
4. Bonito from Japan.
Monte: Slightly salty, sweet, and sour – I think the saltiness came from the nikiri (chef’s sauce) applied to the sushi. It wasn’t unpleasant though, in fact, quite the opposite.
5. Chopped jackfish with ginger, scallion, shiso leaf, and miso.
Monte: The scallion and shiso was a little strong, but I like both flavors so it wasn’t a big deal. The texture was still very creamy despite the pungent leaves mixed into the tartar.
6. Mota ebi. (I’m not quite sure what kind of shrimp this is…)
Monte: I’m not sure if this tasted drastically different from any other amaebi I’ve tried – it was sweet, and slightly more plump (a good thing!) than some other amaebis. I wish I could try the this piece and another amaebi side by side to see if I can tell a real difference.
7. Sea scallop with lemon juice, salt, and yuzu zest.
Monte: The lemon and yuzu were surprisingly strong, and made this piece quite sour and tangy! I actually thought the zest was lime, not yuzu. The sourness provided a good contrast to the sweet sea scallop though.
8. Akami (lean tuna).
Monte: Lean tuna is not to be underestimated. I’ve read that some sushi experts in Japan highly prefer akami, saying that it reveals much more about the quality of the tuna than toro. I think there’s probably some truth to this – although I like toro too. This particular akami was really good though, with intense steak-like flavors.
9. Chūtoro (medium-fatty tuna).
Monte: Whaboom, this melted in the mouth, and is much more similar to toro than akami.
10. Uni from Santa Barbara, CA.
Monte: Sweet and plump, like many other good things in life. (fruit!)
11. Uni from Hokkaido, Japan.
Monte: There’s actually a huge difference between this one and the santa barbara one. The Hokkaido uni tasted much brinier and had a less creamy texture than the Santa Barbara uni. I love getting these “same same, but-different” experiences of comparing different varieties of similar sushi.
12. Tai (red snapper).
13. Mackerel pike. (Hard rice!)
14. King salmon.
Monte: This was much leaner and less creamy than the typical salmon piece – I liked how much cleaner it tasted. It almost has this fresh oceanic quality to it that the very fatty pieces don’t have.
15. Engawa (fluke fin). (Hard rice!)
Monte: I think I remember the texture of this one being pretty meaty – pretty different from other fishes, and really interesting to try.
16. Ika (squid).
Monte: Ever since I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, whenever I eat very tender Tako and Ika, I wonder how long it is massaged for.
17. Marinated tuna.
18. Ōtoro (fatty tuna).
Monte: This was extremely fatty and creamy. It’s like seafood butter.
19. Saba (mackerel).
Monte: The saltiness of mackeral is so awesome. It’s one of my favorites.
20. Anago (saltwater eel).
Monte: I’ve become a big fan of anago in the past couple years. It just tastes meatier and fishier than uangi, with meat that flakes much more.
21. Toro hand roll.
Monte: I tend to judge handrolls by the quality of the seaweed, and this one was pretty good. Salty and crispy, which makes for a great bite in the handroll.
22. Giant clam.
23. Uni from Maine.
Monte: This uni was a mixture of the previous two – not as briny as Hokkaido uni, and not as sweet as the Santa Barbara one. I actually prefer the other two, since they provided great contrasts, whereas this one felt more like middle of the road compromise that didn’t provide an especially strong flavor either way.
24. Tamago (egg custard).
Monte: This was the first time I’ve had tamago like this, and it’s great! The texture was extremely cake-like, and was very different from the normal slippery texture of the tamagos I’ve had in the past. This already felt like a dessert!
Kabocha Crème Caramel
with matcha ice cream
For some reason, the collection of books behind the chefs at the sushi counter included Steve-O’s memoir, “Professional Idiot”…
Monte: I don’t know why Steve-O’s book is on that shelf, but it provided for humorous speculation. Overall, the meal was wonderfully fun, relaxing, and delicious. 15 East is one of my new favorites for sure.