15 East- Oh Baby I like it Raw

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Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Casually elegant dining room that can be a little noisy; brighter sushi bar area that fills up
  • sip: only sake beer and wine are available; I like 3 out of 2
  • savor: for real, everything is amazing; the bluefin tuna tartar appetizer is a Pants favorite; in the summer months, the Copper River Salmon is not to be missed, I think we have single handedly lead to their extinction
  • sit: this is not for the California roll and sake bombing crowd, take them to Mizu; although we treat 15 East as our weekly sushi destination, it is actually rather elegant and pricey, so company should be the same
  • spend: $
  • address: 15 East 15th Street (Between Union Square and 5th)
  • phone number: 212-647-0015
  • website: www.15eastrestaurant.com
To be clear, I am a little weird about Sushi- I need to really be in the mood for it, and it took me a long time to get into the texture.  I would always get into the sashimis and stuff at Nobu, but never really had it in me to branch out past rolls at any other place; it just seemed too mushy to me, and every once in a while you would get a piece that wasn’t cut right so you had a stringy, messy situation..you get the idea.  Also, I really always liked creative combinations of sushi rolls, and was not as well versed in the subtle flavors of truly well done raw fish.  15 East was truly a revelation to me. 
Our first visit to 15 East, about four years ago, was spurred by two things: good press and proximity to our apartments.  We knew that the space used to be Tocqueville, but that didn’t mean much to us because we had never been.  We were surprised by the dimly lit dining room, with a row of nicely spaced banquettes against the wall, and larger round tables by the window. We could just tell that this place meant business.  The menu was inventive, offering appetizers, cooked entrees, omikases and many types of raw fish.  What they didn’t have was a wide selection of rolls, my usual go to.  There was jsut something about the atmosphere that told me that yes, it was time to embark on a new way of eating sushi, and that yes, it would be amazing.
So, with Daryl at the reigns, I placed my order for pieces of Sushi.  Just fish, on rice, that’s it.  To start, we had this salmon roe appetizer that i had read about and was salvating for, which was alright, not amazeballs.  We also had the bluefin tuna tartare and sashimi, which has become a staple for us.  The miso soup, oysters and whitefish uzukuri thing are good…Also, in season the softshell crabs are amazing, and also clearly anything tempura, don’t act like you are too fancy for that..
Anyway, the real star here is the sushi.  It is just the simplest, freshest, most perfectly prepared fish on rice that i had ever had.  I was amazed at the different flavor nuances of each variety of fish, and it was cut so well that I avoided any weird biting issues. To be fair, I do usually order the toro scallion roll as well, it is just perfection, but recently the $18 price for 6 pieces, or $3 each piece of roll, has gotten to me.  Our absolute favorite item, which honestly might be laced with crack, is the copper river salmon.  I recommend this fish to anyone, without hesitation. 
15  East has become our neighborhood sushi place, and we go about once a week. That being said, the prices reflect the extremely high quality, so it is suitable for more special occasions and dining companions as well as casual sushi outings.  Say the blonde sisters sent you…

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