One of the highlights of my trip was seeing my friend Julie, whom I’ve known for almost two decades now, and every single time we get together, whether in NYC or California, we’ve always eaten sushi. Therefore, it wasn’t unusual that our first meal together this trip was — SUSHI!
Jules made reservations at 15 East, an upscale sushi place next door to another Japanese place she often frequents. When we arrived at 8pm, the restaurant was packed but we were seated a few minutes upon arrival — reservations are a MUST in NYC! — and got right down to it. An amuse bouche of marinated tofu starts off our meal.
It wasn’t difficult to choose our menu for the night. We began with some specialty beers from Japan. Hitachino Nest Ale ($9) either a white or red rice ale. We chose the latter. This had an interesting taste, although, nothing that blew our minds.
We also selected the Echigo Koshihikari Rice Beer ($16) to try. It was just like any other beers we’ve tasted so I don’t suggest you waste the added dollars to get this one.
Yellowtail Sashimi Three Ways ($29) hamachi, kampachi, shimaaji was definitely fresh and filled with umami — not difficult to acquire in OC — but what set this apart from my experiences with sashimi was that they served a different dipping sauce with each of the fish. With the kanpachi, a yuzu daikon soy, the shimaaji came with a sudachi (a citrus used in ponzu) soy and the hamachi was accompanied by a grilled scallion soy. Our only complaints were that the soy sauce was too heavy and the infused flavors too subtle.
Since we wanted to take into account dessert elsewhere later on in the evening, we selected several sushi from the a la carte menu. Definite stand-outs included the zuwaigani, or snow crab, so sweet and succulent.
Two types of uni — one from Santa Barbara and the other, from Kyushi, Japan was also creamy and decadent.
The aoyagi, or orange clam and hotate, live scallop were also incredible.
The 15 East Handmade Noodles and Handcut Soba Noodles sounded great on paper but our choice, the Matsutake Mushroom Soba ($16), a bowl of fragrant hot broth with sliced matsutake and hand-made soba was mediocre.
The accompanying grated daikon and fresh lime added flavor to the broth — which was the star of the show. The soba was a huge disappointment being overcooked and on the mushy side.
Yes I love Japanese food, and yes I’ve always thought Japanese food in NYC was better than elsewhere, but this time around I’ve come to realize, sushi and sashimi is equally good in southern California if not better at the higher end establishments. Although we had a delicious meal, it wasn’t anything I’d make an extra effort to frequent the next time I’m in town.
15 E 15th Street
New York, NY 10003