Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう), 2016.03
I cannot remember how many times i have dreamt about Sushi Saito, which is always mentioned as the best sushiya, as well as the most hardest sushiya to get in. I attempted to make a reservation by myself but the line was busy forever. Luckily a good regular friend invited me.
First of all, you have to know that there are actually two different seatings at Saito: one side by Saito himself, and another private room handled by Saito's disciples. I didn't manage to get a reservation at the Saito side but i still made this Tokyo trip for this place as i know i can get a reservation on Saito side for my next visit. And luckily i got it.
Although this may not be a complete Saito experience, it was a lovely experience with disciple Shion-san (詩音しおん).
Before i entering the private room, i peep Saito side and i was surprised that the room was totally empty. I was told Saito-san had an cancellation on his guests for lunch on that day due to some personal issues. I somehow feel 'lucky' that i didn't book Saito side, otherwise i cannot even get a chance to step into Saito. Both rooms are decor in a traditional 'zen' style, very bright and clean. There are 8 seats at the L shape counter in the private room, with the young chef Shion-san standing behind the counter.
Lunch menu is available at JPY 5000, 10000, and 15000 come with 10, 15 and 18 pieces of sushi respectively. Dinner Omakase menu is also available. I had the dinner set.
Six tsumami (appetizers) were served first. I really loved the Shiro-ebi (white baby shrimp) which was incredibly creamy and sweet. Followed by cooked tako and awabi (octopus and abalone) , the tako was sweet and chewy, side by a rubbery abalone which was very tender at the same time - both were packed of oceanic flavors.
The third appetizer was also beautiful - wonderfully cooked Yari-ika stuffed with its roes and eggs inside. Followed by fresh and juicy Kegani with a lovely sweet after taste.
Next arrived my favorite monkfish liver, this is the last season to eat monkfish liver and obviously not the best time, but it was (un)expectedly good. The last tsumami was a fillet of grilled Nodoguro (black throat sea perch). It was so perfectly grilled, really loved the slightly crispy skin and succulent flesh underneath. Now ready for nigiri.
Tai, a fresh and clear piece to start with. As this was my first time with 'Saito', i was quite exciting and curious about everything here, although i was not with the real chef Saito-san. I noticed that shari was perfectly-shaped, each grain lies in different directions which exploded on my tough. I liked the mild taste of shari which was well-balanced, not too sharp, and matches well with the neta.
I love Kohada. Compare to the sharper, more sour Kohada at Jiro-style sushiyas, this piece was much more mild but the sync tastes were very smooth with the flow.
Followed by three pieces of tuna. The leaner but umami Akami, my favorite fattier Chu-toro , and a lovely piece of Otoro which was unexpectedly clean but very creamy at the same time - delicious lard of the ocean.
Sumi-ika was chewy, but less creamy that i expected. But i still enjoyed its sweet aftertaste and savory hint of the salt on top.
Followed by my favorite Kuruma Ebi (sorry, i have too many favorite's'), quite large in size and very tender. I really enjoyed the enticing sweet aftertastes. This was my favorite pieces alongside Otoro, i had an extra piece of Kuruma-ebi at last.
Spring is the best season to eat young Katsuo, or Hastugatsuo in Japanese. This was a pretty slice of lean, but high- flavor, marvellous. Another highlight was the Aji, nothing but appetizing.
Followed by two pieces gunkan sushi. Kobashira didn't impressed me much but i really loved the uni (sea urchin), so creamy and has a a dreamy sweet aftertaste. However, i was quite disappointing with the nori this time, i only had 1 shoot each piece but it was no more crispy. Maybe my bad but i don't think a good seaweed would become soft so fast.
The Tamago was perfect for my liking. Not a typical jelly-like, sponge cake nor dashi-maki, the texture was in between the sponge and jelly, firmer and the sweetness was right to point. See its wonderfull bottom!
Added one more piece of uni because the uni itself was superb. (Forget about the nori)
Here, i cannot judge too much before i never tried Saito-san's work. What i can say here is, i love the shari which tastes right to point for my liking, neta was fresh and delicious. The flow of nigiri was really comfortable, the coherence of shari and neta was lovely although Shion is Saito's disciple. Milder in flavors as mentioned, but overall not that out-of-world as i imagined. The highlight was actually the otsumami, every single dish was remarkable and hard to be replaced.
It was a nice experience, most importantly, i got my next reservation at Saito side. Cannot wait...!
For reservations, i also called hundred of times and i even went to Sushi Saito to make a reservation, all attempts failed. Top hotel concierges neither works, let alone other cheaper hotels. What i suggest here is to ask a friend who have been to Saito to take you there.
Date: Mar. 2016 (Lunch)
Address:東京都港区六本木1-4-5 アークヒルズサウスタワー 1Ｆ
Hours:12:00～14:00, 17:00～23:00, Closed on Sundays
Cost: Lunch JPY 5000+(10pcs), 10000+(15pcs), 15000+ (18pcs); Dinner Omakase 25000+