The Omakase You Can't Miss in Tokyo: Sushisho Saito
You know how everyone has that weird food item they just avoid like the plague? For my brother, it's tart dairy like yogurt or sour cream. For my mom, it's caramelized onions (?!?) and for me, it's "fishy fish". What does that even MEAN, you may ask. Well, allow me to explain. While I enjoy very mild white fishes (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc), I can't eat cooked salmon, tuna, arctic char and the like. I can enjoy salmon sashimi, I can't eat mackerel or roe. Trust me, I didn't choose this affliction.
Now imagine this... while in Tokyo I really wanted to go for a full on omakase experience. That's the sushi meal where you don't order anything. The chef just puts stuff in front of you. How would I accomplish this? I was so scared to get funky roe or fermented fish. Luckily, my brother Eric studied abroad in Kyoto and is practically fluent in Japanese. He told the sushi chef some uber polite version of "ummm I know this is weird but my sister doesn't eat roe or very strong fish flavored things". Surprisingly, they were extremely accommodating, nodded their heads, and so the meal began.
When I say a 25-course symphony, by God I mean symphonic orchestra, front row seats at the Met. Every single piece was a subtle harmony of warm sticky rice and the freshest fish I've ever eaten. It was really challenging for me to decide where to try an omakase meal in Tokyo, and I hope my article helps you narrow down your choices. Saito only has 12-seats, so make reservations in advance (I used Tableall) and get ready to let go of all expectations. I wrote down every piece we ate, but didn't take many photos because I wanted to enjoy just being there. I've added thoughts on my favorites....
2. Snapper Sperm Sac: OMG! I did not know what this was. I thought it was poached fish in a warm broth. Can't believe I made it through this bite...
3. Torogani Seasonal Clam: can't find much information about this, but a delicious clam nonetheless!
4. Fluke: Hands-down the best piece of fish I have ever eaten in my life. I don't even eat fluke!! So subtle and wonderful.
5. Horse Mackerel with Umi Paste: I had never eaten horse mackerel before Saito and it's a new favorite. The strong pungent taste of the umi (plum) past really helped to cut through the richness of the mackerel.
6. Fluke with Smoked Monkfish Liver: I am not a fan of liver but this was interesting. Very buttery to contrast the mild fluke.
7. Golden Eye Snapper, Shabu-Shabu Style: Shabu-Shabu is a type of restaurant in Japan where you get served raw meat and then boil it, and eat it. The sauce is ponzu-forward and very vinegary. I loved how it worked with the snapper.
8. Crab Roe w/Egg: This was a very unique dish. It was a warm egg custard that truly tasted like the sea. The texture was akin to the finest spun silk. 10/10
9. Water Eggplant
10. Katsu Bonito (Grilled)
11. "Hairy Crab" Hand Roll: Like a California roll if those were actually good.
12. White + Red Shrimps with Shrimp Roe + Anchovy Paste: OK SO. I loved this dish, the shrimp was raw and the shrimp roe was such a treat. Thankfully, the chef left out anchovy paste for me as my brother Eric and Brandon freaked out when they ate it. They literally said they felt drunk from the level of fish funk that paste had. Both said it was the most memorable part of the meal for them.
13. Baby Snapper with Yuzu: Love how much more mellow yuzu is than traditional lemon. Really allows the fish to shine.
14. Whole Baby Sweet Fish
15. Fire Grilled Baby Squid: Very creamy (and fishy) insides. I couldn't stomach more than one.
16. Cherry Clam
17.Blue FIn Chu Toro: FISH BUTTER. Unreal. TORO TORO TORO.
18."Meshkari" (?) Can't remember this one. Did I mention we drank a lot of sake?
19. Uni from Hokkaido: This uni was so divine I ordered another piece of it. Concentrated uni flavor without any of the soapiness that often times accompanies uni.
20. Vinegar-marinated horse mackerel: I love vinegar so much.
21. Fire-grilled snapper skin: Incredible addition to our meal.
23. Boiled Prawn
24. Otoro: Again, no words to describe the level of quality of this tuna.
25. Salty Trout Roe (for the boys)
Probably the most special part of the meal was how personalized it felt. In addition to the chef only serving what was in season, he also intently watched us as we ate everything. He monitored our reactions to see what we liked, and how to tweak pieces for our personal taste. By piece #18, he started to ask how we were feeling. I was extremely full, but didn't want to stop, so he started making smaller pieces for me. He asked us each what else we wanted to try, and gave us individual extra pieces. It was the most regal feeling.
What was the best meal you've ever had? If you've been to Tokyo, what were your most memorable bites?
photos cannot be shared, downloaded or repurposed for any reason without written credit to Jane Poretsky + Be Like Family