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No. 30

Sushi Masaki Saito

WHEN THIS GLORIOUSLY POSH AND AUTHENTIC sushiya opened in 2019, protestations about its staggering price of admission were typically met with a dismissive “Well, it’s cheaper than a flight to Tokyo.” Alas, two Michelin stars and one price hike later, this is technically no longer true. Of course, this does not matter to the 11 people who choose to eat here each night — and, oh my, do they ever have it good. Hokkaido-born and Tokyo-trained itamae Masaki Saito has exceptional pedigree and serves up his edomae sushi experience just as Poseidon-san intended. Which is to say, one piece at a time, as ready, straight from his water-moistened hand to your own and, from there, flipped fish-side down onto the tongue without ever touching plate or counter (in this case, hewn from beautiful 200-year-old hinoki) in between. Dining is strictly omakase. Note the form and fanfare with which Saito stirs and seasons his exquisite rice in the handai. Then spend your evening 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 (isaki), cherry blossom trout, tamago, aged bluefin, you name it. The silky-smooth, sweet monkfish liver is a display of mastery. No Japanese chef in Canada has the connections (or budget) for sourcing Japanese fish and other products anything close to Saito’s. Meanwhile, despite his other restaurant projects (MSSM and LSL), his focus here remains uncompromised. Savour it. Bill aside, the experience is blissful.

The only Japanese restaurant in Canada that can give Tokyo’s best some competition. Howard Levitt

Photography by placeNEW Studios

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