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15 East without Masa discussion

I don't think I've looked at a menu at 15E since the first time I went. The staff know that I was going to eat whatever Masa wanted to serve me. In general, I think at good sushi bars, you can just go to the chef, say "Omakase, (price limit if needed), please take care of me" and that will be the best option.

That's too bad that you didn't get his very best that night. In general I feel that diners shouldn't be shy about asking for "the chef's best stuff" at any good restaurant.

Aug 26, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

15 East without Masa discussion

Had been quite busy, but finally got around to reviewing my notes and photos from Masa's final month. As usual, full details and more photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Favorite bites included the marble sole engawa with sea grapes and liver sauce, firefly squid, baby sardines, spring katsuo, and smoked spanish mackerel.

While katsuo as sashimi is often served tataki style (seared), this was fresh and the flesh was more moist and had a springier texture without the searing. The spanish mackerel was smoked for two hours over cherry wood, and was probably the best bite I've had all year. In fact, with its luscious mouthfeel and richeness of flavor, it might be the best smoked fish I've ever had. Masa-san told me that he picked up these two things from a 1-Michelin star and a 2-Michelin star sushi restaurant he visited while in Japan, highlighting his humility and quest to continue improving the experience for his diners.

The thing that I found most amazing during these two meals at 15 East was not the food, but the emotion of it all. Most of the sushi bar customers were regulars, and there were toasts, hugs, and amazing stories. One guy told me about his first date with his now wife back when Masa was at Jewel Bako. Another guy and his buddy once ate at the sushi bar at 15 East every week for about 30 weeks. One guy had the facade of the 15 East restaurant decorated onto his groom's cake for his wedding. Just a wonderful influence that went beyond his skills as a chef.

Even though I loved my omakase meals with Masa, that doesn't mean that I'll stop going to 15 East now that he's left. Two of the more underrated aspects of dining at 15 East that don't get enough mention are the excellent service and tasty desserts. The front of house is absolutely first rate, with well trained staff and a knowledgeable sommelier. Meanwhile, the desserts are wonderful and show off a refined simplicity.

Aug 25, 2015
fooder in Manhattan
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Former Captain Reveals the Down-N-Dirty Secrets of Working at Eleven Madison Park

Honestly a lot tamer than I would have thought based on these snippets.

Aug 24, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Le Bernardin Chef's Tasting Menu - any recent experiences?

Can't really help you there, as I tend to order the same things all the time. The aforementioned escolar/kobe, whatever version of langoustine they're doing in the "barely touched" section, and then I'll experiment with whatever else sounds interesting on the menu for the other choice. I almost always go for 2 from "barely touched" instead of 1 from "almost raw", so keep that in mind if more things from that part of the menu grab your attention.

Aug 06, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Menu change at Juni

Anyone been recently? I haven't been back since shortly after they opened, but I'd read somewhere Hergatt is still putting out excellent food.

So the dinner menu, which used to offer choices of 4 course, 6 course, and 10 course, has now switched to 3 pre set tasting menu offerings, a 7 course "herbivore", a 7 course "omnivore", and a 10 course chef's tasting.

Aug 06, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Le Bernardin Chef's Tasting Menu - any recent experiences?

The only thing I've had on the current LB Chef's tasting menu is the escolar/kobe beef. It's an excellent dish, but rather simple, more about the ingredients than any specific cooking.

I have repeatedly mentioned on the threads here that people should never do the tasting at Le Bernardin. They don't do anything special for the tasting that's not available on the regular menu. It's usually stuff that's easy to make into smaller portions. In general, the menu doesn't change much, so I think you will have an excellent meal doing the prix fixe, choosing the things you know you'll enjoy, and maybe only experimenting a little.

And yes, service and atmosphere haven't changed through the years.

Aug 06, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

15 East without Masa discussion

If there are any reservations left, whether solo diners or people canceling, I suggest you try to snap them up!

I hadn't been back in a while (real life getting in the way and a couple of cancellations along the way), but went last week and I think it was even better than before! He continues to try to improve his craft, including serving a katsuo (bonito) that wasn't a tataki because he learned from a 2 Michelin star Japanese sushiya that the summer bonito wasn't fat enough to withstand the searing and would be dry.

Another stellar new (again, I hadn't been back in a while) addition was the smoked spanish mackerel, which was so luscious and may have been the best smoked fish I've had in NYC (including the sturgeon at EMP as well as classics at R&D)

Full recap will come after I have another meal at the end of the month.

Cosme (late) Review: Group Dinner for 6

As usual, for full review and all the photos, please visit the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Sorry this review is very late as we had this meal back in February. But I hadn't heard anything about the restaurant lately, so would be curious what recent visitors have to say as well.

Overall:
It's a good restaurant with good food. If a friend wanted to go to a trendy restaurant and we ended up there, I wouldn't be disappointed. But it's just way overhyped by the food media. This is not a restaurant that will change how NYers view Mexican food. The night we went, the New York Times had just awarded them 3 stars. But even with chef Olvera in the house that night celebrating the review, there were some things that just seemed to be missing.

Food:
Everything involving corn was phenomenal. This includes all the tortillas and tostadas, as well as the purple corn chileatole served with the octopus cocktail, and the signature husk meringue dessert. Some items on the menu were more of the "check things off the list" variety, such as the seafood stuffed avocado or the uni tostada (uni! bone marrow!), which I liked far less than the mussel tostada which had a great depth of flavor. When I think of Mexican or Mexican-inspired food, I think of either freshness or depth of flavor. While freshness of flavor was evident in some of the dishes such as the scallop and the excellent cobia al pastor, none of the dishes really presented a depth and complexity of flavor except for the pozole. This was especially disappointing in regard to the enfrijolada. In terms of food, everything overall was good. And when I say everything, I mean literally almost everything, as the 6 of us ordered everything on the menu except for 4 items.

Service:
Service was friendly and prompt. That is excellent for a trendy, busy NYC restaurant considering the large number of horrible waitstaff in the city filled with actor/singer wannabes. But for a critically acclaimed, sophisticated, serious restaurant, that's not enough. We had already mentioned that we were ordering practically the entire menu to share. The first miscue was when the server told us that the hamachi would not be large enough to share, and recommended we get two orders. We decided to get one order first and see how it turned out. It turned out that there were 5 slices of fish for the 6 of us. You're telling me we couldn't just pay for that one extra slice so that everyone could have one? Don't bullshit me with that everything is pre-portioned crap. The second miscue was when they brought our duck carnitas (meant to serve two) along with the accompanying basket of tortillas. Two tortillas. Seriously?

What made this worse was that these were things that should have had two opportunities to have been corrected before they got to the table. Not only should the server communicate with the kitchen, but a diligent world class chef should notice these things and question what goes out. "Two tortillas for a 6-top?" And yet they said Olvera was in the kitchen that night, although I don't know if he was manning the pass.

Price/Value:
Yes, the portions are small and the prices add up quickly. That has pretty much been mentioned on most of the reviews out there. But considering we ordered almost the entire menu, including all the desserts (but only one of the main entrees), the price for one person including tax and tip without alcohol was a very reasonable $100. So no arguments there, although I doubt diners can achieve those economies of scale without a group of 6.

Jun 02, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Manhattan Asian style bang bang

Yakiniku Gen is also right there in that Yasuda vicinity and I think a little more upscale than Gyu Kaku.

Jun 01, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Kanoyama - still pretty damn great

Momokawa is a nice cozy place, but it's not sushi: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/908832

May 18, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

15 East without Masa discussion

Yea I went to make a resy in person as soon as people confirmed him leaving on this thread. Good thing for CH!

He's taking a trip at the end of May so they're taking reservations up to when he leaves at the very end of June. They can't do requests for "sitting in front of Masa" although he will try to serve everyone in his final days. Almost all of the reservations were snapped up by regulars, but the best chance of getting a reservation is actually solo diner instead of 2-3.

May 14, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

15 East without Masa discussion

Wait, you're talking like he's about to leave. If so I have to head back before that happens.

May 12, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Koa Restaurant - Chinese Restaurant (Wakiya)

So Wakiya's trying again after failing miserably last time?

I guess he has newfound fame from the Iron Chef relaunch.

Is Saburi still around? I think that was one of his disciples.

Mar 22, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Wells' EMP review

See, as a staunch advocate of EMP and a hater of Pete Wells and his soapbox, I loved this review.

To me, the review felt like he had planned to pen a negative piece with his preconceived notions and was brow-beaten into maintaining 4 stars by EMP's food and earnestness "to bring delight to the table".

Mar 19, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Takesushi Sunnyside: The Best Value for High Quality Seafood at a Cheap Price

I haven't been back for dinner in a while, but this doesn't surprise me. I've stopped by for lunch a couple of times, and the prices have definitely gone up, while I haven't noticed anything special when it came to the fish.

Sad, and disappointing, but this happens in the restaurant business all the time.

Mar 11, 2015
fooder in Outer Boroughs

Japanese restaurant for large group

EN Japanese brasserie has a bunch of large group set menus.

Feb 19, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Most expensive chicken in NYC?

Was at Louro last night and had the truffle roasted chicken for 2. Absolutely delicious, beautifully cooked, and great incorporation of the truffles. But at $90 the value proposition isn't as good as other stuff on the menu.

Is this the most expensive single chicken in NYC right now? The chicken at the NoMad hotel is $82 and the chicken and crepes at Dirty French is $72. The fried chicken at Momofuku is more than one bird.

A couple of other killer dishes included a sashimi/crudo preparation with a tahini-like sauce and a lovely squid ink garganelli.

Jan 14, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Bouley Lunch Tasting Menu Review: Best Fine Dining Deal in NYC

Thanks!
The friend that I went there with for this meal recently went again (without me :-( ) and said it was just as good if not better than the last time.

Jan 09, 2015
fooder in Manhattan
1

2014 Omakase Odyssey

My guess is the majority of those Japanese customers are on company expense accounts.

I think the sourcing was expensive back when he was the only one doing it (Kurumazushi's been around 30+ years), but not sure if the prices are as justified now. Seven years ago a friend and I had dinner omakase there and ended up with a bill of $960 for food alone. But his neck/collar toro was haunting.

Uezu-san is very aware of his prices. I was there for lunch one time and mentioned how the last time I was there was dinner many years ago. He gave a small chuckle and said, "Hah, yes, very expensive," with a knowing nod.

Jan 02, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

Le Bernardin - what to order?

Have you been before? There are a few items that are more "signature" items that you may want to try just to see what the fuss is about. It doesn't necessarily mean that those dishes are better. Ones that comes to mind are the tuna + foie and the crispy black bass, which has probably been on the menu since France.

In terms of the current menu (I'd actually been meaning to write up my last visit a few months ago but never got around to it), my recommendations are the truffled langoustine from the barely touched and the escolar + kobe beef for the entree. I don't think it's even close. If you don't mind rich, luxurious dishes, those two stand out.

Here are a couple more tips:
The prix fixe is far superior to the tasting menu. The tasting menu doesn't actually highlight anything. My feeling is they took the stuff that was easiest to portion out to smaller portions. All the choices should be available on the prix fixe (and if not you can substitute)

You can actually get two from the barely touched if nothing from the almost raw appeals to you. That's usually the case for me.

In addition to dessert, you can order their ice cream flavors a la carte. Last time we had a scoop of 'canele' (yes, the French pastry imagined as an ice cream flavor) and it was ridiculously good. If I do get around to writing up Le Bernardin it would focus on that.

Jan 02, 2015
fooder in Manhattan

What bygone food fad do you still enjoy? [NYC]

Reading some of the comments, I'd be happy to add NYC to the title and if someone wants to start a new thread in general topics by all means. I can't seem to just edit the post however...

Nov 19, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Chowhound lunch at Zabb Elee in Queens

Can't do lunch due to work and all...
I actually live a few blocks away and have never been in all these years... maybe I should do some takeout. Interested to know Manhattan CHers' thoughts (I think in general may be different from Queens/OB Chers).

Nov 07, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

What bygone food fad do you still enjoy? [NYC]

Really? It seems to me that there are still many creperies around. There's a tiny place in Elmhurst, Queens that sells bubble tea as well as crepes, which 1. seems like a natural combination 2. would take care of two of the food items mentioned so far in this thread.

Nov 03, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

What bygone food fad do you still enjoy? [NYC]

I'm thinking both dishes and places. For me, a fad is something that was popular, but not adopted widely enough for long enough to create a "history". So for me, lobster rolls have history from their New England roots, but the lobster pot pies that have sprung up in many NYC restaurants would be considered a fad.

Nov 03, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

What bygone food fad do you still enjoy? [NYC]

A couple of weeks ago, I went to try the ramen burger at Ramen.Co for lunch now that it's available in FiDi without having to wait in a long line. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! The ramen bun worked and the shoyu sauce was excellent. For the full review, please visit the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Anyway, since NYC has so many food crazes and fads come and go, it got me wondering which ones people still enjoy once the lines and buzz have dissipated.

Oct 28, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Uni lover? Here are a couple of great selections

With this post, you win.

That hon maguro toro from caviar russe looks incredible. Usually when I get toro + osetra it's some sort of "tartare", which is fine, but not necessarily a texture I crave.

Oct 23, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Uni lover? Here are a couple of great selections

I'm glad my post has spawned so much uni food porn, but it seems that the ones that feature uni as the main ingredient tend to be simply prepared. There don't seem to be many balanced, composed dishes like the one at Louro.

Oct 22, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Uni lover? Here are a couple of great selections

As much as I try, I just can't get into raw abalone (the last two times at 15E). I don't enjoy the texture, finding it on the hard/tough side. Am I missing something?

Oct 22, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Uni lover? Here are a couple of great selections

As a HKer, I've only actually had mini abalone steamed (like fish), but that looks really good. I also prefer braised dry abalone, but the costs are prohibitive.

Speaking of abalone... since you (kosmose7) clearly have the means, I suggest brushing some abalone sauce (braising liquid) on grilled lobster or langoustine. One of the most glorious things I've ever had. And if you can add some sort of Japanese beef for a surf and turf it's even better.

Oct 21, 2014
fooder in Manhattan

Uni lover? Here are a couple of great selections

A couple of weeks ago, I had the most uni I'd ever had in one sitting AND one of the best uni dishes I've ever had, all in one day! For a full recap of that glorious day's seafood, including a review of other dishes from Louro, please visit the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

Lunch - UNI-DON ($17 with miso soup) Takesushi, Sunnyside.
Yes, this is not in Manhattan. But a quick ride on the 7 actually makes this spot more convenient than many other "Manhattan" eateries. Also, $17 is on the high side for a lunch set, even by Manhattan standards. But just look at that bowl of uni! There was easily at least half a tray of uni on there!

While they sometimes get Santa Barbara uni which I generally prefer, Takesushi usually gets most of its uni from Maine. Maine uni tends to not be as sweet and creamy as the Santa Barbara version, but has an added depth of umami flavor. From my experience, the sushi chef has been honest with me regarding the quality of the day's uni, so make sure to ask! This was the most uni I've ever eaten in one sitting, and it was glorious!

Dinner - UNI, CRISPY SWEETBREADS, KABOCHA SQUASH Louro, West Village
This was an absolutely special dish that currently ranks among my favorites of 2014. I suggest getting everything in one bite to experience the great interaction of textures featuring the crispy sweetbreads, creamy uni, and soft, yet not mushy, squash. The earthiness of the squash provided a great base and brought together all the flavors of this unique rendition of surf and turf. Great uni dishes are not new to Louro, as last year's uni with pork belly was also excellent in combining flavors and textures. This dish, however, featured layering, balancing, and interplay that was far superior, in my mind, to that already excellent dish.

Oct 21, 2014
fooder in Manhattan
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