New Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong – Sushi Saito lives up to expectations with dazzling dishes
It’s pricey and if you want to book you’ll need to be introduced by someone who’s visited before, but once you’re in it’s a meal you won’t forget – from the delicate and buttery Nagasaki sea perch to the luxurious golden eye snapper
A few words of advice about Sushi Saito in the Four Seasons, the Hong Kong branch of a Tokyo-based restaurant, whose opening late last month had a lot of sushi lovers panting with anticipation.
Be prepared to pay a non-refundable deposit and be on time – because if you’re not, they’ll start without you. Oh, and here’s something essential: as with the original in Tokyo, if you are a new customer and want to book, you’ll need to be introduced by someone who’s visited before.
Even now, less than a month after opening, reservations are hard to come by because the restaurant already has a group of regular customers. For now, the sushi counter has only eight seats (it will later expand to 16).
It’s pricey – HK$3,280 plus 10 per cent for the dinner omakase (chef’s selection) – but there are other sushi-yas in Hong Kong that cost more. The lunch omakase is cheaper, at HK$1,480 plus 10 per cent.
My guest and I arrived with time to spare for our booking (there are two seatings each night, at 6pm and 8.30pm) and the meal started bang on time as chef Ikuya Kobayashi started serving the first of six otsumami (appetisers).
The highlights were Hokkaido kegani (horsehair crab), served out of the shell with a mild vinegar sauce, which was refreshing and palate-whetting. Pregnant yari ika (spear squid) is a briefly seasonal speciality, and had a creamy texture (from the eggs inside) and sweet flavour.
Hokkaido ankimo (monkfish liver), dusted with grated yuzu zest, was smooth and rich. But our favourite was the Nagasaki nodoguro – the grilled blackthroat sea perch was so soft, delicate and buttery that we needed the two types of daikon (radish) – fresh grated and takuan [pickled]) – served with it to refresh our palates between bites.
On to the nigiri (sushi with vinegared rice).
There was only one piece that I disliked: Kagoshima sumi ika which, strangely, I found too salty (and I usually like squid).
Everything else was delicious – my notes from the meal are full of explanation points, “soooooo good” and thrice underlined OMGs (I’ll spare you those). The shari (rice) is delicately pressed together (although it holds its shape) and is vinegared just enough so it complements the neta (toppings).
I loved the luxurious kinmedai (golden eye snapper) from Chiba; Kagoshima aji (horse mackerel), with its bright green dab of puréed Japanese chives on top; kuruma ebi (prawn), which was soft, sweet and warm (it had been cooked just moments before being served); cool and creamy Hokkaido bafun uni (sea urchin); and a thick slice of saba (chub mackerel) pressed sushi that the chef wrapped in a crisp sheet of nori (seaweed) just before handing it to each diner.
We were served two types of maguro (tuna) – akami zuke (marinated tuna) and otoro (tuna belly). The latter piece, deliberately, had some tendon running through the flesh because legendary chef Takashi Saito believes that the sinew has more umami. It wasn’t at all chewy because the fish (from a bluefin that weighed more than 300kg) had been aged for seven days.
Warm anago (saltwater eel) was the last piece of nigiri served before the futomaki (large roll) which held anago, prawn, pickled gourd, cucumber and egg. A silky, delicate tamagoyaki (rolled omelette), complex in flavour, ended the meal on a not-too-sweet note.
Sushi Saito, 45/F Four Seasons, 8 Finance Street, Central. For information look on the website, globallink.com.hk. Dinner: HK$3,280 without drinks or the service charge. Lunch: HK$1,480 without drinks or the service charge.
Three other top sushi restaurants we’ve tried recently