The Dirty Stall

Tokyo 2009: Sushi Saito

Posted on: January 15, 2010

Sushi Saito is a Michelin 3 star sushi restaurant and it is the best sushi that I’ve ever had in my life.

Entrance to Sushi Saito

You can really feel the quality and effort put into each piece of sushi. Each piece of sushi holds together as you pick it up but yet crumbles away in your mouth.

The rice is prepared with red vinegar and it is served at just the right temperature. There is this sublime taste to the rice and you can feel the warmth in each and every grain. I guess there’s a reason why it got 3 Michelin stars :D

Now I understand why the top sushi chefs have to spend many years just learning how to make the sushi rice.

Sushi Saito is a rather intimate place, with only 7 seats and I had to make a reservation about 4 months in advance in order to get a suitable date. The good thing is that chef Saito gets to give his full attention to you.

Counter 1

Closer look at the chef’s working space. The pots on the left are the sauces for the sushi which he applies at the end. You can see that he is leaving some maguro out to warm up to the right temperature.

Counter 2

There is a wet pad on the right for you to clean your fingers if you want to use your hands to eat the sushi.

Counter 3

Here is the man himself, chef Saito-san. He’s a really nice guy and can speak some English.

Chef Saito

Green tea was my drink of choice. It had a rather intense taste to it.

Green tea

1st course: Hirame

Flounder

Hirame

2nd course: Tai

Sea bream

Tai

3rd course: Kohada

Gizzard shad

Kohada

4th course: Akami

Lean tuna meat

Akami

5th course: Chutoro

Medium fatty tuna belly

Chutoro

6th course: Otoro

Very fatty tuna belly. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand. :D

Otoro

7th course: Sumi ika

Squid

Ika

8th course: Shiro ebi

Baby white shrimp

Shiro Ebi

9th course: Kuruma ebi

Tiger prawn. The best and biggest prawn I have ever eaten.

Kuruma Ebi

10th course: Torigai

Large cockle

Torigai

11th course: Aji

Horse mackerel with ground aoba on top.

Aji

12th course: Katsuo

Bonito with ground ginger on top.

Katsuo

13th course: Akagai

Ark shell

Akagai

14th course: Ezo bafun uni

Bright and rich orange colour uni from Hokkaido. Sweet and creamy taste that melts in your mouth.

Ezo-bafun Uni

15th course: Kita murasaki uni

Pale yellowish colour, with a subtle but firm taste.

Kita-murasaki Uni

16 & 17th course: Anago (nitsume & shio)

Conger eel, done in sweet eel sauce and sea salt style.

Anago (Nitsume & Shio)

鮨さいとう (Sushi Saito)
1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato-ku

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23 Responses to "Tokyo 2009: Sushi Saito"

Loved the pictures!
I’m going to Tokyo in october with a friend and we’re considering going to Sushi Saito. So do you think that making a reservation in June would be a safer choice?
Did you make the reservation by phone (in japanese or english?)? Thanks,
Fabio

Thanks for the compliments Fabio. Yes reserving in June would be a good idea, and it can be done by phone. The person I spoke to could speak some English, enough to make a reservation. It would help if you knew some basic Japanese of course.

Dinner course is expensive – 21,000 yen. You might want to consider the lunch course which is 10,000 yen cheaper. I also would like to suggest Sushi Kanesaka as another possible place that you might want to try.

Thanks for the reply. I read about Sushi Kanesaka as well; depending on my budget, I’ll try to do both!
I’ll give you some feedback after the holidays.

Sounds like you’ve done a lot of research! I hope you have a great time eating in Tokyo then, that place is full of delicious food :D

I am also going to Tokyo in October and doing my food research now. :)

Sushi Saito sounds like an awesome place. 10K Yen for lunch is not cheap either, especially when I’m trying to fit in a few other Michelin-starred places as well (fingers crossed!!).

I read from another blog that there is a 5500 Yen lunch course for 10 sushi, 1 miso soup and 1 hand roll. If this is true, I might settle for this as it’s easier on the wallet.

Yes that might be possible, you can probably call ahead now to ask what menus they have. Have you considered Sushi Kanesaka as well? I hear it’s quite a good place.

I literally just tried calling to make a booking for this restaurant and spoke to someone who wasn’t very good with english. I think they told me to make a booking via a concierge??

Is there a better method to making a booking?

Do I need to find a translator?

hi karla, you can consider calling a few times, maybe the person who picked up your call wasn’t good in English, so another time you might be lucky and the person who picks up can speak better English.

otherwise you have to get someone who can speak Japanese to make the booking for you, or follow their suggestion – get your (Tokyo) hotel concierge act as translator and make the booking for you

and for that you would have to book a hotel which is decent enough to have English-speaking counter staff

I went to Sushi Saito and to Sushi Kanesaka, both astonishing!
I’m still in Tokyo, I’ll write a better report to you when I get back home in a few days.
Best regards,
Fabio

Sounds great and I’m looking forward to your report!! :D

I was at Sushi Saito in October too! Amazing sushi and Saito-san was very friendly. Hoping to return this year :)

Thx for the great report!
We’ve just got the reservation for Saito via a friend. Are we able to manage the dinner on our own not really knowing japanese at all? Did hear that some of the other top masters such as Sushi Mizutani are not too happy with foreign customers at all. Of course we want to make sure that we pay him the full respect. Maybe you want to join us on my account?

Hi, thanks for your offer but unfortunately I do not live in Tokyo so I can’t take you up on it. Have no worries about not knowing any Japanese as chef Saito can speak some English and he is a very friendly person. So please don’t worry and enjoy your meal there! :D

Thx for your quick response that helps us a lot! Pity you can’t join us – will be actually in the beginning of Nov.
Anyway hopefully we might join for a meal some other time! Appreciated

best
André

I am working on my food search for great sushi places in Tokyo (cheap or pricey does not matter as long as it’s the tastier, the best done). Your post is very helpful. My question to you: I know you loved Sushi Saito, but how would you compare it to Mizutani, Sawada, Sukiyabashi Jiro, Masa? Thanks

Hi Lloyd, I’ll be honest and say that I’d not had the chance to try the other sushiyas that you listed down so my answer is also subjective to what I’ve read online. However based on my research, if money was no object, the best would be Sawada, followed by Jiro, then Mizutani.

However one thing to note is at that the top level, I’ve noticed the differences between the places are marked by the diner’s preference in sushi rice, which as you know is the most important part of sushi. E.g. Sawada tends to be a little bit drier and inconsistent while Jiro is near perfect, Mizutani uses red vinegar, etc.

I highly recommend checking out the Tokyo forum on Chowhound, lots of good and useful information there! I hope this has been useful to you.

Thanks so much for your answers.
Highly appreciated.

[...] Tokyo 2009: Sushi Saito January 2010 13 comments 4 [...]

[...] I was in Tokyo. This is exactly the same situation when I booked for the Michelin 3 star restaurant Sushi Saito a few years [...]

Hello! My husband and I are traveling to Tokyo in late-October, and would like to visit Sushi Saito for lunch. About how long did the lunch course take?

Thank you!

Hi Pam, unfortunately mine was a dinner course but I should think that the lunch will last around 1-1.5 hours.

[...] So I wasn’t really interested in comparing Shinji to the other establishments such as Aoki, Tatsuya, etc. I had something else in mind – comparing Shinji to Sushi Saito. If you haven’t heard of Saito before, it’s a 3-star Michelin sushi restaurant in Tokyo which I reviewed here. [...]

[…] This is usually the way most sushi courses end, with anago (conger eel). Most of the time you just get the one in nitsume style but something you get in 2 styles like I did at Sushi Saito. […]

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