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Thursday
Sep272007

Dinner at 15 East, 9/27/07

For a couple of weeks now, my friend, Linda, and I had plans to attend a Tory Burch event last night (Thursday, September 27th) from 6:00-8:00 p.m. We decided to make "a night of it" and planned to grab some dinner afterwards. After debating about which cuisine we'd prefer, we chose sushi. I suggested we try 15 East, after reading the rave reviews on chowhound.com. 15 East is located on 15th Street between Union Square and 5th Avenue. If you blink, you'll miss the restaurant. Upon entering the space, the sushi bar is to your right. This area is bright, with an immaculately clean and shiny white tiled background. What seems like a very sterile room is illuminated by the bright colors of the fresh fish and the interaction between the sushi chefs and their patrons. We had reservations for 8:30 p.m., but arrived at the restaurant much earlier. The hostess was very accommodating and sat us immediately, despite our forty-five minute early arrival. (Upon making my reservations a couple of days prior, I was asked whether I wanted to sit at the sushi bar, or in the main dining room. I asked the reservationist which area she preferred, and she insisted that since it would be our first time dining at 15 East, we be seated in the main dining room.) The main dining room at 15 East is modern, yet elegant with high ceilings, large windows with sheer white panels, slate grey walls with beautiful white crown molding, and perfectly dim lighting.

Upon being seated, my friend and I ordered drinks; she had a sake, and I had the hot buckwheat tea. The menu is of good size with a lot of variety, both raw and cooked items. We decided to share an order of the house-made soba noodles with the duck and scallion broth. For our mains, she ordered a roll and sushi and I ordered a tuna roll and a couple of pieces of hamachi.

The amuse bouche of the evening, pumpkin tofu, arrived in a soup bowl. The morsel resembled a perfectly squared piece of an orange pate d' fruit with a white-chocolate-covered almond on the top. I ate the amuse in one bite. The pumpkin portion was gelatinous in texture and what resembled a white-chocolate-covered almond was firm in texture. The flavor was smoky, sweet and salty, finished with a firm "crunch" from what I still can't figure out what the topping was.

About ten minutes later, our soba noodles arrived. The cold buckwheat noodles paired with the steaming hot, salty, smoky broth was fantastic; each bite made better with the delicate crunch of the scallions and the thinly sliced gamey duck. Our sushi and rolls arrived next. My hamachi was extremely fresh, firm, buttery and creamy. The tuna roll I ordered was so simple and delicious; the only components being seaweed, wonderful sushi rice, fresh fish and wasabi. I've had so many rolls with bad sushi rice, old fish and too many ingredients for something that should be so simple....and then the dessert menu arrived. Today, I'm hating myself for being "good." This dessert menu was perhaps one of the most appealing that I've seen; i.e. Rice Pudding Tempura A La Mode and a Passion Fruit Pudding. There's no question...I must order dessert next time!

Overall, my experience at 15 East was great. The food was fresh, the service was great and the atmosphere was lovely. I will definitely be returning soon.

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