What is authenticity? Respect and passion are the minimum. Mastery of craft in preparing sushi requires intrinsic knowledge of how to convey the truest quality and elicit the purest essence of each ingredient within the harmony of the recipe. Chef Masaki Saito, raised in Hokkaido and trained in Tokyo, focuses on purity and source, and the challenge to care for each in confluence with Edo-Mae tradition and his own unique imagination. How to select the fish, the rice, the vinegar and the wasabi, and their proportion adapted to each dish, is a refined skill. Every cut from each selected blade, the proper thickness, the presentation and the overall impression, is a high art. It begins with understanding nature: the motion in its stillness, and the stillness in its motion; the complexity in its simplicity and the simplicity in its complexity; and the right balance to appeal to all the senses, the optimal quality.
Masaki Saito always knew he wanted to be a sushi chef. The epiphany occurred when the chef at his favourite restaurant passed away in Hokkaido, Japan and the quality of the food had changed dramatically. He studied fish from the most basic level and even pursued an education in the school of marine biology at the age of 15 in Japan. This grassroots approach allowed him to develop a true understanding and expertise for his sushi.
He began at the very bottom and worked his way up until he became a sushi chef in Hokkaido and then later, in Tokyo. In 2016 he took his talents to New York City and within six months, earned his first Michelin star in the 2017 guide. He earned another one the following year - the only chef to jump a star that year in NYC.
Saito’s specialty is his “new” edomae-style sushi, an evolution of the more traditional style of the past.