Impeccable sushi restaurant within the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong
Sushi Saito is a name that is known in the food world as being at the very top of the tree for all sushi experiences in Japan, which therefore means the world. It is now impossible to getting a reservation at the pinnacle (and original) Tokyo branch as it is only possible to gain a seat if you have already been. This was one of the reasons Michelin removed the restaurant (as well as Jiro) from the 2020 guide for effectively being a private members’ club rather than open to the public. A lucky forward notice of this second opening of Saito in the Four Seasons, Hong Kong allowed me to apply and eventually gain a seat after a string of email requests elevated to the global head of food and beverages for the Four Seasons Group, a hefty, non-refundable deposit and photocopies of both sides of my credit card faxed to the Four Seasons. Purely for good measure, I also stayed at the hotel to show further good faith to gaining the seat, so I do not know what the booking process is like now. Suffice to say the meal was outstanding and a complete pleasure from start to finish.
Sushi Saito Hong Kong is located on the 45th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel and seats just 8 people only which makes gaining a reservation here a little more tricky obviously. Once in and seated we were asked what I imagine many of you will not normally be asked in a restaurant which was “…what type of handmade or blown cup would you like to drink out of?”. These types of Japanese venues care so much and this is one of the very first things presented to each diner – a tray of different kinds of drinking vessel to choose from. Our sommelier and host was superb in his hospitality throughout.
Ikiyu Kobayashi is the former soux chef from Sushi Saito in Tokyo and had been there for 8 years prior to coming over to Hong Kong as Saito’s entrusted viceroy to head up their second branch. Watching this man at work was a pleasure and it was obvious very early on why he was chosen at the calm, skill and control he displayed preparing all of the produce at the counter. The other important note for this brand is that Chef Takashi Saito who heads the flagship branch in Tokyo personally goes to the Tsukiji market every morning to personally select the seafood produce to take this back to Sushi Saito in Tokyo and is also flown to Hong Kong directly from his choices that morning.
The meal began with octopus with shavings of crisp kombu seaweed which was fresh and texturally, a good training exercise for the mouth, to getting the jawbones loosened up. Sea urchin was decadent and came with genuine wasabi on top, which was grated in the traditional way at the table using shark skin. Then we had something that I have not had before and was utterly delightful – monkfish liver. This had a similar texture and consistency to poultry foie gras but was also infinitely lighter in richness. This was sublime as it maintained a luxurious richness but not as heavy as meat liver and with the light soy was a supreme moment of Japanese food had. Well done Ikiyu, well done.
Next came the entourage of tuna in full range of fatty tuna (otoro), medium fat tuna (chutoro) and lean tuna (akimi) all on the fabulously vinegared rice, real wasabi and beautifully sweetened, pickled ginger (which can be far too sharp, even in the best sushi restaurants). These tuna sushi were wonderfully fresh and all in sensible portion sizes, beautifully crafted and presented, all in exactly the same way across the counter with no inconsistencies (superb skill displayed to achieve this).
A very clean and obviously massaged squid came next which was sumptuously silky and tender. Mackerel was pleasing and this was followed by more sea urchin wrapped in delightfully light, sweet and crispy seaweed. Glazed sea eel (anago) was so tender it was almost crumbly (not my favourite texture, but the flavour was very good) and a refreshing miso soup cleansed the palate before the final mixed roll of vegetables, prawn and sweetened egg omelette. The sweetened egg omelette (tomago) is a speciality and the usual end to an authentic sushi meal within a Japanese restaurant, taking years for junior sushi chefs earning the right to cook this for diners at the counter. This was undeniably good and again showed the genuine skill of chef Kobayashi who had clearly been at the helm of making this tomago.
The final bill for the tasting menu and saki came to £230 per person. Although this was not the lengthiest tasting menu by sushi standards, this was actually very welcome because we the whole menu had been carefully conceived to not make us bloated in any way. I would also say that the price, although high, was appropriate for the sheer quality of what was had.
How do I sum this meal up? The whole experience was grace and craftsmanship from start to finish and a special meal memory as a result.
Food Grade: 90%
Location (Click google logo for directions)