Dinner @ Sushisho Saito すし匠 齋藤 (Tokyo, Japan)

December 22, 2016 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

And when it comes to travelling, I am one who pack my itinerary with many activities. Yes, 节目排到满满. =) So when I had one (meal) slot left for a Sunday, I contacted Tableall to assist with my dinner reservation. One can also say I was embarrassed to continue troubling my friend and friend’s friend. So I engaged an external agent to assist with the last restaurant reservation for my trip.

After exchanging some emails, I was glad Tableall said they were bending their rules to make reservation for solo travelers (like me); They were initially hesitant as they explained it will be difficult to find replacement for 1 person in the event of cancellation. But, cancel? Me? No way. =p And with that, I prepaid ¥29,000 (which included 8% tax, 3.6% handling fee, ¥3000 booking fee (per person) and rounding up to the next ¥500) for dinner at Sushisho Saito who was awarded one star by the 2009 Tokyo Michelin Guide.

I was keen to visit Sushisho Saito because head chef Toshio Saito previously trained under master chef Keiji Nakazawa at Sushi Sho. Chef Nakazawa is famed for his mastery of the techniques of the ancient Edo sushi masters. So yes! I was off to his discipline’s restaurant (Sushisho Saito) since chef Nakazawa san has since moved to Hawaii.

On the day of dinner, armed with a portable internet modem, I found my way using Google map on my mobile. And having Google-ed up images of the building which Sushisho Saito was located in before my trip, I managed to identify the building with much ease. Located at Level 2, I chose to take the stairs.

Upon entering through the main door, I had to remove my shoes before going up a short flight of stairs to enter the main area. And one would feel like a giant because the counter is recessed. So yes, it may be a little inconvenient for ladies who are in dresses or skirts as one would need to go into kneeling position before sliding one’s legs under the counter table to sit down.

And seating arrangement depended a lot of luck and timing. The counter was long enough for 9 to 10 people. A Japanese couple were leaving when I entered at 9pm, and was directed to take over their seats. That seat unfortunately didn’t allow me to be served by chef Saito san. It was quite a bummer, really.

My end (of the counter) was served by the sous chef, whom I didn’t manage to get his name. And with that, I commenced my dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Spanish mackerel sushi.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Codfish milt.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Flounder with wasabi and salt, and monkfish liver wrapped with flounder.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Sea urchin in kelp sauce where kelp (konbu) was soaked in water for a day.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Mackerel, grilled with its skin.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Oyster.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Smoked bonito sushi topped with grated onion.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Sushi roll with sardine, cucumber, ginger, garlic, shiso leaf and sesame seeds.

9) Dish #9 (above) – Steamed egg with roe.

10) Dish #10 (above) – Mackerel (saba) sushi.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Big-eye snapper (kinmedai) that was cooked in shabu-shabu style.

12) Dish #12 (above) – White shrimp with innard.

13) Dish #13 (above) – Salmon roe sushi.

14) Dish #14 (above) – Grilled mackerel (saba).

15) Dish #15 (above) – Squid sushi.

16) Dish #16 (above) – Hand roll, with vinegared rice mixed with hairy crab.

17) Dish #17 (above) – Yellowtail sushi. But instead of vinegared sushi rice (shari), this was served with grated radish and topped with red pepper flakes. It was perfect!

18) Dish #18 (above) – Sea eel sushi (anago). The only sushi which was given to me by hand.

19) Dish #19 (above) – Horse mackerel stick sushi (aji bozushi).

20) Dish #20 (above) – Fish. Didn’t managed to get its name despite asking chef to repeat. But if I am not wrong, this was black cod.

21) Dish #21 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) sushi.

22) Dish #22 (above) – Sea urchin sushi.

23) Dish #24 (above) – Soup.

And at this point, sous chef asked if I was still hungry. As the sushi at Sushisho Saito was of regular size, I replied honestly that I could go on with 3 more sushi. My appetite is huge for a female. I could even eat more than some of my male friends. Ha. And I was very glad I could eat more because the additional sushi became the highlight of my dinner!

24) Dish #23 (above) – Monkfish liver and pickled watermelon sushi.

25) Dish #25 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi) sushi. And for this, sous chef got a younger kitchen staff to assist with the peeling. And halfway through, sous chef took over and showed him the right way. That actually warmed my heart somehow.

26) Dish #26 (above) – Big-eye snapper (kinmedai) sushi. Aburi style.

27) Dish #27 (above) – To wrap up my dinner, I requested for sushi roll. And sous chef recommended gourd. “Japanese style,” he said.

28) Dish #28 (above) – And for desserts, one could choose between ice cream (strawberry, black sesame, chestnut) or sorbet (lime, mango, plum). I went with black sesame ice cream. To which sous chef continued to ask, “With biscuit?” And I went with his recommendation; Ice cream sandwiched between wafer biscuit.

Sushisho Saito is very flexible with their seating timings. While I was having my dinner, there were customers coming in as late as 10pm. I was accompanied by a (Chinese) couple at my end of the counter. They had already started their dinner when I took my seat. And what I didn’t like was that the sous chef would serve us the same dishes although we started at different timing. Which explained why my dinner kick-started with sushi instead of small dishes (otsumami). I prefer a proper order and sequencing in my dishes.

And I will be very honest in saying I was disappointed that chef Saito san wasn’t serving me that night. It was clear the sous chef who was assigned to my end of the counter wasn’t as skilled. During the course of my meal, I couldn’t help but kept looking over at chef Saito san. (^^lll)

But what touched me was when I was finishing my dessert, chef Saito san came over and earnestly thanked me for patronising his restaurant. Yes, with a bow. He didn’t have to since he wasn’t my chef for the night, but that gesture totally melted my heart. Haha.

With 2 (small) flasks of sake and green tea, I paid an additional ¥2000.

Will I be back? Well… I can’t comment much since I didn’t get to try chef Saito san’s sushi. But if one managed to secure a reservation at Sushisho Saito, I hope one gets to sit at chef Saito san’s end of the counter!

4-2-2 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 赤坂 4-2-2 赤坂鳳月堂本店ビル 2F)
+81 3 3505 6380, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (L.O.)
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon