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Tokyo

Higashiazabu Saiko

東麻布さいこう

The chef’s classic and sincere approach to Edomae sushi is in stark contrast to his curly hairdo and the choice of restaurant name which is an abbreviation of the casual Japanese phrase for “let’s go!”. That discrepancy is precisely the appeal of Higashiazabu Saiko, where guests can enjoy meticulously prepared morsels of sushi within a carefully designed interior that even has a bar space. Sophisticated sushi, an Edomae experience, and a relaxing space: once you have found Saiko, you will want to make it your local.

Opened in March 2022, Saiko is just a three-minute walk from Azabu Juban station located on the first floor of the Oakwood Hotel & Apartments. This is the first independent foray for sushi chef Jun Saito, the former number two chef at Ginza Hakkoku. Saiko has a suave, modern glass exterior, but the moment you step inside you will find calm and comfort. The stylish interior is divided into three areas: an L-shaped counter, a private room for six, and a bar space. The stunning 200-year-old hinoki cypress counter is the place to be wowed by the chef’s preparation and then each mouthwatering bite as soon as it is delivered to you in his skillful hands. You will notice how Chef Saito’s workspace extends on one level to the guests’ eating space, creating a very broad, generous feel and giving you the best seats in the house. Sitting comfortably in chairs by Danish designer Kai Kristiansen, guests can enjoy the array of knives adorning the walls – the creations of traditional Sakai knife master craftsman Yoshikazu Ikeda, and the order-made Oribe tableware each in a slightly different hue.

The private room with an additional six-seat straight counter was built with a view to the future and adding an apprentice sushi chef in the restaurant And if you want to savor the night a little longer once the meal is complete, you can mosey over to the bar space – a rarity at sushi restaurants. Guests arriving a little early or those from the first sitting who are still enjoying their drinks can relax and unwind in the bar area, from where the chef will even take a la carte orders. The eye-popping wine collection contains anywhere between two- and three-hundred varieties, with a strong focus on Burgundy wines. Imported direct from Europe, 98% of the listed wines are Pinot Noir. The chef is desperate for guests to experience the wonderful affinity between Pinot Noir and sushi prepared with red vinegar and all kinds of Japanese-style dishes. Beyond wine, there is a wonderful selection of drinks of every kind to please every palate.

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CUISINE

Classic and sincere approach to Edomae

The cuisine at Saiko is a sushi degustation of seven tsumami appetizers and twelve nigiri sushi. It begins with a luxurious bowl of velvety abalone and ikura salmon roe. Steamed with sake for four hours, the Oita Prefecture abalone is given wavy knife cuts by the chef resulting in the most exquisite texture, served at a comfortable room temperature in summer, but thoroughly warmed in winter. Next may be a simmered dish of Hokkaido monkfish liver and octopus from Sajima, Kanagawa Prefecture. It is luscious and smooth and a perfect match for sake. Chef Saito’s signature tsumami is a porridge-like rice dish called zosui featuring nodoguro blackthroat seaperch roasted over charcoals. Typically made with plain rice, Chef Saito makes his zosui with vinegared rice, topped with egg and fresh seaweed, and flavored with a broth gently extracted from the nodoguro bones over three hours.

When it is time for nigiri, the flow is about first wowing guests with a visually unusual sea urchin nigiri, with a triangular piece of seaweed for ease of eating, then getting them really excited with maguro, before refreshing their palates with cured kohada gizzard shad. The chef wants the nigiri vinegared rice ovals to be satisfyingly plump mouthfuls that melt on the palate. He adjusts the temperature depending on the topping to maximize umami: warmer for maguro, anago and shrimp; cooler for white-fleshed fish and kohada. The chef alters his curing treatment for kohada day by day to remove any unpleasant fishiness, always generously salting the skin side first before working on the flesh. Maguro is supplied by the famed Toyosu supplier Yamayuki and on this day the chutoro was the buttery flesh of a 119-kilogram tuna caught in Aomori Prefecture.

INGREDIENTS
Saito pays close attention to the best each season has to offer when sourcing his ingredients. Seafood comes primarily via Toyosu Market in Tokyo, and includes maguro via wholesaler Yamayuki and sea urchin from the wild, natural waters of Rishiri, Hokkaido. His rice of choice is the koshihikari variety from Toyama Prefecture selected for its rich umami and large, plump grains. It is seasoned with a blend of Yohei akazu red vinegar and rice vinegar. Seaweed comes from the rich natural environment of Ariake Bay in Kyushu.

Higashiazabu Saiko cuisine #0
Higashiazabu Saiko cuisine #1

CHEF

Jun Saito

Jun Saito was born in Miyagi Prefecture in 1981. At just 17 years old he knocked on the door of a Chiba sushi restaurant in a bid to commence his career as a sushi chef. Realizing the great value in learning techniques of traditional Japanese cuisine, Saito then spent five years at Keyakitei in Omotesando before returning to the world of sushi at the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku. This latter opportunity solidified his skills in top level etiquette and hospitality. When Chef Hiroyuki Sato opened Ginza sushi restaurant Hakkoku, Saito was granted his own counter to serve from as the second-in-command. It was during this time he went all out and permed his hair to distinguish himself in the world of sushi with so many bald-headed chefs, and he because of the confusion that he was Saito under head chef Sato.

At precisely age 40, in March 2022, Saito left Hakkoku to open his own sushi restaurant in Azabu Juban. His unconventional haircut belies his top-notch techniques, especially in traditional Edomae preparations for silver-skinned fish and shellfish. An artisan to the core, Saito is always investigating the best methods for a given ingredient and delights in watching his guests reactions when they devour his creations. As a father of two young girls, Saito always looks forward to days off and family outings.

VISION
Having just opened, Saito’s first priorities are to nurture and protect Higashiazabu Saiko and to provide guests with the best possible dining experience. His long-term goal is to become the “local” for his guests – an idea influenced by his roots at the tiny sushi restaurant in Chiba Prefecture. He has no desire to become an impossible-to-book, high-end sushi restaurant, aiming instead to be the place deeply intertwined in the local community, where anyone can go anytime they choose.

MAGURO

The flagship ingredient at any sushi restaurant is the maguro, and at Saiko, it is supplied by Yamayuki – a famous Toyosu Wholesale Fish Market supplier the chef has long been acquainted with. This means the best maguro of the day frequently makes its way to the counter at Saiko. Chef Saito just adores high-quality, tender maguro, like a 119-kilogram longline-caught tuna brought into port at Ohata, Aomori Prefecture.

Course

6pm and 8:30pm
Saiko Omakase course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥38,500
¥38,500
Reservation Request
6pm and 8:30pm
Higashiazabu Saiko Omakase course from 2023
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥8,000
¥43,500
¥43,500
Reservation Request

Tokyo

Higashiazabu Saiko

東麻布さいこう

PRICE
¥38,000
~
CHILD
0
& UP
MIN GUESTS
1
PERSON
~
GENRE
Sushi, Higashi Azabu
ADDRESS
1F, 3-10-5, Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
OPEN
6PM and 8:30PM
CLOSED
Sunday and holidays
URL
NA
PHONE
NA

RESERVATION

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