Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sushi Saito @ Akasaka, Tokyo - 鮨さいとう @ 赤坂, 東京

Cuisine: Japanese (Sushi)
Map: Sushi Saito @ Akasaka, Tokyo - 鮨さいとう 赤坂, 東京
Price: JPY10,500 per person at lunch (what I paid for)
Visited: 21 January 2011
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう) is a tiny restaurant which can accommodate only 7 customers at a time. The chef, Takashi Saito, will prepare and serve sushi delicately himself. As you eat, Chef Saito would explain what he serves in friendly English. The decor is just a typical Japanese style but cordial ambient. The place is just a few minutes walk from Takeimesanno Station and Toranomon Station, and right opposite US Embassy (bear in mind the place can be difficultly spotted). Rice at Sushi Saito is another distinguished point from others, it is saltier and sourer than others': rice is kept warm in a separate container and brought out just a small amount at a time. This would enhance the flavour of fish.

Chef Takashi Saito

I was firstly serviced with green tea, which was strong and bitter, and Seaweeds in Red Vinegar.

Seaweeds in Red Vinegar

I can confidently say that this could be the best Tai () I have ever had. It was extremely tender, tasteful and easily swallowed; not mushy soft like where else (8/10).

Tai () or Red Snapper

Buri () was just sweet and mild: a magnificent delightful piece of sushi (9/10).

Buri () or Adult Yellowtail

Kohada (小鰭) was next served. Usually Kohada would have a mild fishy scent but not the case for Sushi Saito. It was lightly marinated with vinegar (8/10).

Kohada (小鰭) or Japanese Gizzard Shad

Next three were tuna series: Akami (赤身), Chu-toro (中とろ), and O-toro (大とろ). This is the ingredient Chef Saito probably most proudly present. It was mentioned that tuna was aged for a time before being served. Once each piece was sliced to the appropriate thickness, it would be left for a little before handled and served. Akami was specially marinated giving it best taste and tenderness. Chu-toro and O-toro both melted in the mouth suddenly, savoury it must be. These were the best tuna sushi I have ever tried: must say that there were even better than those of Sushi Mizutani (10/10).

Akami (赤身) or Top loin of Bluefin Tuna

Chu-toro (中とろ) or Medium Fatty Bluefin Tuna Belly

O-toro (大とろ) or Fattiest of Bluefin Tuna Belly

Next inline was Ika (烏賊) with a touch of lime juice and salt. The texture was firm and shiny. It was very fresh: no need for soy sauce at all (8/10).

Ika (烏賊) or Squid

Chef Saito then prepared the heaven taste of Kuruma Ebi (車海老). It was smooth, tender, juicy, and sweet with a bit of fat on the head part (10/10).

Kuruma Ebi (車海老) or Japanese Imperial Prawn

This was the first time to experience Shiro Ebi (白海老). This was surely not a mistake. It might be very soft (melted-like feeling) but sweet and fresh (9/10).

Shiro Ebi (白海老) or White Shrimp

Saba () with plum leaf (Oba) stuffed inside was delightfully fresh. The combination with plum leaf was splendid. Although, it was sweet and tender and could not be easily found where else: the one at Sushi Mizutani was still better (8/10).

Saba () or Mackerel

This was then followed by Aji () with grounded Aoba (青葉). The smell of grounded aoba was pleasant and refresh. The texture was nothing chewy but pure smoothly tenderness (9/10).

Aji () or Horse Mackerel

Kobashira (小柱) was great but could be better. Despite its freshness, the taste was rather light (5/10).

Kobashira (小柱) or Mactra Clam

Ezo Bafun Uni (蝦夷ばふんうに), when it came to this sea urchin from Hokkaido, I must admit that this was not just a piece of excellent sushi but  a piece of creative art it is.  This creamy piece of sushi would just melt in the mouth giving out its sweet scent to combine with wasabi (10/10).

Ezo Bafun Uni (蝦夷ばふんうに) or Sea Urchin

Last but least, Anago (穴子) was served in 2 different styles: one with salt and the other with nitsume sauce. They were a miracle duo. While nitsume sauce was sweet, the combination of conger eel with a touch of salt also balanced the taste. They both were warm and prepared just before served (10/10).

Anago (穴子) or Conger Eel

Shio Anago (穴子) or Conger Eel with Salt

Nitsume Anago (煮詰め穴子) or Conger Eel with Thick Soy Sauce

Kampyo Maki (乾瓢巻) was then served to finish the course. This was terrific: sweet but salty, crisp but soft (8/10).

Kampyo Maki (乾瓢巻) or Dried Gourd Roll

Miso Soup

Sushi Saito truly deserves the 3 Michelin Stars. Although, the atmosphere within the place may look really normal and small to some but service is great and Chef Saito is heartedly friendly and lively. Most important is each piece of sushi is carefully prepared with experiences and technique from the very best ingredients, resulting in delicate taste and intoxicatingly delicious. From my experience, Sushi Saito is none less than Sushi Mizutani @ Ginza from the taste: a wonderful journey indeed. As a big fan of sushi, even if I have to ride a dolphin across ocean, I would gladly revisit this restaurant from time to time.

Sushi Saito @ Akasaka, Tokyo
1st Floor, Jidousha Kaikan Building
1-9-15 Akasaka
Tokyo 107-0052

鮨さいとう @ 赤坂, 東京
〒107-0052 東京
都港区 赤坂1丁目9−15

Open Hours: Lunch 11:30am - 02:00pm, Dinner 05:00pm - 10:00pm. Closed on Sundays
Tel: +81 (0) 3 3589 4412


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