Lunch for One: Hasaki in the East Village
Hasaki is a neighborhood Japanese restaurant I find myself at once or twice a week. It would be lovely to dine at the likes of Sushi Yasuda or 15 East every time a sushi craving arose, but that would just kill the pocketbook, no? That's why we need restaurants like Hasaki. It doesn't compare to the top sushi bars of Manhattan, but is far more affordable. Best time to come is during the day, if you can escape from work for just an hour or so. Order the Flower Garden Platter ($18), offered only during lunch hours.
The menu describes the Platter as "New Style of Sushi & Sashimi", and it is precisely that—a mix of traditional and fun takes on sashimi, nigiri, and maki rolls. Three pieces nigiri to begin: unagi, shimp and tamago. Then a makeshift chirashi bowl, with salad in place of the rice. There is tuna tartar mixed with tobiko, a little briny pop in every bite, and yet more tobiko found in the inside-out roll of avocado, lettuce, and crab meat.
I save the sashimi-topped round of rice (tuna, salmon, and fluke) for last, as it is finished with a gentle mound of ikura, or salmon roe, quite possibly my single favorite food item in the world. You will leave quite full, don't worry.
The set comes with a side salad or miso soup; opt for the salad, if just for their killer ginger-carrot dressing. It's a dressing found in practically every Japanese restaurant in this city, but Hasaki's has an extra tang to theirs that makes all the difference.