What makes a good sushi restaurant great? Excellent fish and seafood? Chef’s experience, skills and obsession with consistency? Takashi Saito seems to correspond all these criteria, but it’s much more than that. Saito-san hits the perfect gustative balance in each morsel he produces, taste and texture wise. Joel Robuchon called Sushi Saito “the best sushi restaurant in the world”, Michelin gave it 3 stars and Tabelog.com users voted it the best in Tokyo. What else?… This year Sushi Saito has moved to a new location in Roppongi Ark Hills, but the counter restaurant is still pocket size and still very hard to book. I’ve blogged about Sushi Saito 3 years ago, so this time I am posting pictures only.
Sushi Saito : 1F, Nihon Jitensha Kaikan, 1-9-15 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo; tel. 03-3589-4412 ( Access map)
Zaiyu Hasegawa is a superstar among foreign travelers and chefs eating out in Tokyo. The reason why is simple – he and his wife Emi- san are friendly and accessible people. In the secretive city like Tokyo, where sometimes you have to be introduced or accompanied by a Japanese speaker in order to eat at some exclusive restaurant, being able to write an email yourself and reserve a table is quite a rare thing to do. (You can find Jimbocho Den contact details here.)
Mizutani (9F, Juno Ginza Seiwa Bldg, 8-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; tel. 03-3573-5258) is undoubtedly one of the greatest sushi chefs in history. Some call his rice “mushy” or not al dente enough, but the disciple of the legendary Jiro Ono has really mastered the perfect rice. Very different than the rice at Sukiyabashi Jiro (which has very strong vinegar taste), Mizutani- san rice is delicate, quite soft and has just a slight touch of vinegar. As we all know, everyone in Tokyo can get excellent fish, but it’s the rice that makes the difference and is the signature of each chef.
Mizutani- san doesn’t allow photography at his restaurant ( since I was there last time, he moved to a new location in Ginza), so I can’t show how good his sushi looked, but I can tell you how good it tasted. Everything, from hirame (yellowtail), kohada( gizzard shad) and to “die for” sayori (needle fish,which was topped with sweet shrimp paste), to explosive awabi ( abalone) and uni sea urchin) from Hokkaido, that was sooo sweet and tasted like saffron, was the summum bonum of sushi. I don’t think it can get any better.
Chef Oshima Manabu is one of the most charming and nicest chefs I’ve met in Tokyo. He runs steakhouse Shima (9〒103-0027 Tokyo, Chuo, Nihonbashi, 3−5−12, 日本橋MMビルB1;tel. +81 3-3271-7889), located in an office building basement and difficult to spot even when you have a precise map. Different than other steak powerhouses in Tokyo like Kawamura ( No one can’t get into it anyway) or Aragawa ( Can a piece of beef really taste like $700? ), you will not leave the restaurant feeling broke.