Its not hard to find "good sushi" in a city saturated with sushi dens; but its always a treat when you find "great sushi." You could find great sushi at 15 East right outside of Union Square. Masato Shimizu runs the kitchen and takes more of a traditional approach to 15 East's menu. The menu is broken down into two main portions "from our sushi bar" and "from our kitchen". Under the sushi bar portion you could find a list of tempting appetizers like slow-poached octopus, firefly squid in a sweet miso vinaigrette, oysters, or yellowtail sashimi three ways. It then goes into main courses: sushi omakase, sashimi omakase, tuna flight, or sushi & sashimi omakase. The appetizers from the kitchen consist of a degustation of sea lettuces (11 varieties of Japanese seaweed), crab croquettes, grilled swordfish, and Kuruma prawn tempura. Their were 4 main courses--Awabi risotto, seared scallops, ribeye kobe beef, and a duo of wild salmon and yellowtail. 15 East also offers handmade soba noodles--both hot and cold. Try the cold noodles with sea urchin, salmon roe, or caviar while the hot noodles work well with duck or prawns. Though 15 east lacks the maki section of crazy sushi rolls (thank God) it doesn't lack an awesome lineup of fish to pick from. The list consist of fish that me and Stef never heard of and that to me is exciting.
What didn't excite me was the service or the wine list. Not saying the service wasn't good; but when you pay $70 for wine and you're one of four tables in the whole restaurant, you don't want to pour you're own wine. The server who looked more like a maitre d' seemed to be well informed of the food and wine list; but he wasn't overly helpful (but thats fine). The only thing that annoyed me more than him not pouring our wine was his "my pleasure" response to everything i said--"hey have a good one" was responded with "My pleasure". But he did a good job, so lets leave it at that. Back to the wine list! It was frustrating looking over the wine menu; because they only had 3 bottles under $50. That $70 albarino that we picked was delicious and paired very well with our food; but I think 15 East would be more of a regular spot if they had wines with more reasonable price tags. The food is pricey so you could expect the wine list to sync up; but it was such a buzz-kill knowing that we didn't have very many options.
Once we tasted the wine and started eating, all was well and I couldn't complain. The chef started us with a soft shell crab than progressed to the sushi & sashimi omakase, and ended with cold soba noodles with sea urchin. Everything was delicious and I'd definitely return. What stood out about the sashimi and sushi omakase was the variety of fish they gave us. So often, even at "good sushi" spots they chef prepares fish that you eat all the time--tuna, salmon,shrimp, etc. At 15 East they gave us a variety of fish that made me think it was really today's best fish. The fish included were all delicious and ridiculously fresh. The raw pieces of sashimi melted in your mouth like butter while the sushi had a similar effect. Soy sauce and wasabi were not needed; but there for just like salt and pepper at an American restaurant.
15 East has received much attention from critics all around the country including Alan Richman (from GQ) who awarded 15 East his tenth spot when asked his top 10 favorite NYC restaurants. 15 East is definitely among the best sushi I've ever had-only to compare with sushi staples like Sushi Yasuda. Check it out!