1st Floor, Ark Hills South Tower, 1-4-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
In a nutshell: A tiny, spartan dining room in Tokyo’s Ark Hills office and leisure complex is the unlikely setting for one of Japan's most venerated sushi restaurants. Chef Takashi Saito goes to extraordinary lengths to source the best ingredients to create sushi that balances texture, temperature and flavour.
The chef: Saito started his career as a sushi apprentice at the age of 18 and was one of the youngest chefs to be approved as independent from his sushi master at the age of 33. An early riser, Saito starts his day at 6am at the Tsukiji market, where he likes to select the best catch of the day.
The food: Diners at the tiny sushi counter are treated to a procession of precisely prepared sushi from aji (mackerel) with grated ginger and negi (onion) and iwashi (sardine), through different cuts of tuna (akami, chu-toro and o-toro) to sea urchin, eel and octopus. Saito serves slightly smaller slices of fish than most (some are aged, their temperature precisely controlled) and adds marginally more salt to his rice, prepared with mild red vinegar.
How to get a reservation: With extreme difficulty. The restaurant only seats eight people, there is no website and it is booked several months in advance. Your best bet is to try to get an invite from a regular or hire the private dining room, which has its own counter and seats seven.
Bonus point: Joël Robuchon has described Sushi Saito as the “best sushi restaurant in the world”.
Other ventures: In April 2018, Saito opens his first venue outside Japan, Sushi Saito at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Here, he still plans to use the freshest Japanese fish by flying it into Hong Kong every day in time for lunch service.