I've gone to the various locations of the East Japanese mini-chain several times now over the years, mostly because they offer okay sushi at very low prices—a step up from the boxed, pre-packaged stuff, but at nearly the same price and in a full restaurant setting. And every Tuesday at the 44th Street location, all yakitori is offered at a 50 percent discount, making it an ideal place for MH and I to meet for a late dinner after I parted ways with DL at Wined Up.
As you might expect, we took advantage of the Tuesday night special by ordering a bunch of items from the yakitori menu. These were the first two to come out: grilled broccoli and a grilled rice ball. The rest were going to take longer, since the skewered items were in hot demand.
We also got several maki: yellowtail and scallion, spicy tuna, and the "East roll" (egg, shrimp, cucumber, and avocado, rolled in tobiko). I know I said the sushi at East wasn't great (actually, East's 27th Street location provided the food at the booze and karaoke fest at Japas 27 I wrote about earlier, so I figured it was the same caliber), but the rolls I had on this night were even more mediocre than usual. We ate them, but there's nothing much to talk about here.
Finally, the yakitori came out. We were both too full from the mediocre sushi to eat much of it, and some we abandoned entirely after one bite, such as the filler-packed chicken meatballs. But the beef-wrapped asparagus was excellent, and so were the sweet grilled scallops, which came with the gills still attached: a deterrent for MH, but not for me. The shrimp was just okay.
East is where you go when you want cheap Japanese food in a decent setting, and that's about all you can expect from it. Still, for the place it fills between supermarket sushi and high-end joints that I can pretty much never afford, I'm glad it's around.