Editor's note:In early 2014 Sushi Saito will be relocating to a new site in Roppongi (the building in which it is housed is being refurbished), but will still be on the same tiny scale; just one seat will reportedly be added.
Takashi Saito is the chef/owner of Sushi Saito, a restaurant located inside a car park, yet with three Michelin stars. At the time of writing it is the highest rated sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Tabelog, the kanji-only Japanese restaurant guide, which is a sort of constantly updated version of Zagat. Mr Saito trained principally at Kyubei before striking out on his own. The restaurant is tiny, seating either seven or eight people at full capacity along the little counter. It is in a surreal location. Opposite the American embassy is a multi-storey car park; you enter the car park up the ramp, and on the right is a little door. Behind this is a red curtain, the threshold to Sushi Saito. The chef applies freshly grated wasabi, soy or lemon to each piece of sushi as appropriate; the only condiment that the diners have is pickled ginger, which had terrific flavour
At lunch you can choose from sushi menus of 10, 15 or 18 pieces, or opt for the dinner menu, which goes beyond purely sushi. We tried the 15 piece menu today. The meal began with red snapper, then iroeti (there didn't seem to be an English translation). Shad has a taste reminiscent of sardine, and was excellent.
Next came the traditional trio of tuna: maguro, chu-toro and otoro, which were velvety smooth in texture and tasted superb. Squid sushi is remarkable here, as tender as I remembered it from the first visit. A cooked prawn was followed by baby shrimp sushi, both excellent, the baby shrimp a little taste of the sea. Bonito was magnificent, the best I have tried, followed by lovely sweet baby scallops in a seaweed roll. There are two types of uni (sea urchin) served here, one quite sweet, one more briny, both top drawer. Eel was served with and without sauce. The sequence concluded with rolls of a Japanese vegetable which had no English translation.
Mr Saito speaks quite good English and is very friendly, chatting and joking with the customers. There is no sense of hushed formality, the atmosphere very relaxed. The bill at lunch, with water only to drink, came to ¥10,500 (£69), so not only is it the best sushi in Tokyo, it is the cheapest of the top places.
Further reviews: 01st Oct 2010