10. Sushi Masaki Saito
Slip through the navy blue noren, pull open the grand wooden door, and you’ll find a staircase cast in marble up to its handrails. While the risers seem a normal size, figuratively by our count each one represents some 500 kilometres. For just behind the door at the top, Tokyo is waiting for you. More specifically, a sushiya of transporting excellence, delivering an Edomae-style culinary experience as good as any as any you’ll find in the old Edo district of Tokyo. The format is omakase. The fish is sourced from Japanese waters. The itamae, Masaki Saito, is of exceptional pedigree: Hokkaido born, Tokyo trained, with plenty of Michelin-starred experience in Japan before earning a pair of his own at Sushi Ginza Onodera, in Manhattan. So saddle up to his beautiful bar, built from 200-year old hinoki (Japanese cypress), hand-sanded after each night service, and put yourself in his hands. You are one of just eight and he will look after you. First, admire the form and fanfare with which he stirs and seasons his rice in the handai. Then spend your night thinking to yourself, “That’s the best ____ I’ve ever had.” Fill in the blank as the season dictates: conch clam, gari, uni, rice, gizzard shad, needlefish, chicken grunt, cherry blossom trout, tamago, you name it. The silkily smooth, sweet monkfish liver is a display of mastery. So is the aged bluefin, soft and umami-rich, wafted over smouldering hay. And the nigiri, handed over piece by piece? Let’s just say that tonight you—like Hiro—will dream of sushi.
Photos: ALFRED CHOW