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15 East's $29 Three-Course Lunch

15 East's $29 Three-Course Lunch

The chawan mushi appetizer arrives with a black-truffle crag.

When was the last time you were exposed to top-shelf sushi? Most of us measure out our lives in mediocre finger sushi and nori rolls, and only on rare occasions do we glimpse how perfect sushi can be. Not that the democratization of sushi -- whereby you can get sushi even in Duane Reade -- is such a bad thing (though if you're an overfished fish, maybe it is), only there isn't enough perfect fish to go around. Enter 15 East -- one of the city's best sushi parlors -- with a near-miraculous under-$30 lunch special.

15 East's $29 Three-Course Lunch

15 East's homemade curd

The three courses include an appetizer of your choice from a selection of four. I picked the chawan mushi, an egg custard flooded with a mild sauce, sprouting a thick chip of black truffle and dab of shredded ginger. Absolutely scrumptious. My date had the homemade bean curd, a copious quantity of tofu served on a banana leaf with scallions, ginger, and a light soy sauce.

There were four choices for the second course, too, but frankly the sushi -- consisting of four pieces of nigiri sushi (ebi, salmon, yellowtail, and flounder, the latter with a dab of plum on its convex white surface) and a tuna nori roll; there's a wad of house-pickled ginger alongside, but notably no wasabi -- in the sushi biz, this is what's called a point of view. Each piece is already perfect unto itself.

Dessert is more substantial than you might expect: two scoops of sorbet surmounted by a parabolic cookie, or a little plug of intensely chocolate cake with pineapple, various sweet sauces, and a scoop of sorbet.

The whole thing turns out to be quite filling, and you won't get sushi that good too often.

15 East's $29 Three-Course Lunch

The sushi course

15 East's $29 Three-Course Lunch

One of the dessert courses

15 East's $29 Three-Course Lunch

The sunny, south-facing exterior of 15 East, just west of Union Square

15 East 15 East 15th Street 212-647-0015

15 East lunch menu here

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