Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Saito's Sushi

The strip mall at the corner of Sunset and Fountain in Silver Lake epitomizes what I love about Los Angeles. A laundromat, nail salon, and massage parlor all join yummy Indian (Agra Cafe), Thai (Nadpob), and sushi (Saito's Sushi) in ringing a tightly packed parking lot, with a 24-hour donut shop full of chess players tacked on the end for good measure.

J and I had not set foot in Saito's Sushi prior to last night, and as we discussed over some of the best albacore sashimi I've ever had, we've been missing out. Normally, I'm not much of a sashimi fan; I never had sushi or maki until I went to college and then I was mainly a California roll kinda gal. My palate has grown by leaps and bounds since then, but sometimes a whole plate of sashimi is just too much fish for me. Not Saito's albacore, though. This practically melted in my mouth, and I was immediately glad we took his recommendation that we start with it.

Saito is the lone sushi chef behind the bar, a smiling presence who chats easily about the latest World Cup scores while whipping up plate after plate of pristine fish for customers of his small but crowded restaurant. Eating at a one-man operation like Saito's seems to encourage patrons to relax, wait their turn and perhaps interact with their neighbors; also, I think it reminds us harried, demanding Western eaters to respect the craft of the person making our food.

After the sashimi, J and I sampled yellowtail sushi, a salmon roll, aji (spanish mackerel) sushi, and spicy tuna nigiri (handroll). Everything was as fresh and flavorful as our starting dish, presented carefully, and the portions were very large. Bowls of miso soup and a shared Sapporo rounded out our meal.

A word of caution: Saito's is not cheap. It was a bit of a jolt for both of us when the bill came -- $80, $65 of which was line itemed just as "sushi". There is no printed menu at Saito's, so you're in the dark on individual prices. I know compared to the Masa's and Urasawa's of the world, that's nothing, but it was more than we usually spend on a casual weeknight meal out. However, I think the price was reasonable considering the quality and the service, and compared to the couple next to us who ordered plate of sashimi after plate of sashimi after plate of sashimi, I'm sure we got outta there on the cheap end of things!

Saito's Sushi
4339 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029-2111
(323) 663-8890

Erin's Kitchen Restaurant Index: Los Angeles: East-ish


Trent said...

I stopped going there 3 years ago after being charged over 80 dollars for 6 orders of sushi and one small beer. The only memorable point in the meal was when I was handed the bill.

Erin S. said...

Bummer! Like I said, the prices are high--I did think the sushi was quite good and very carefully prepared and was willing to pay the $$. Not good enough though that it will replace our usual Little Toyko standby, Hama Sushi, which is much cheaper.

Catherine said...

I LOVE SAITO'S. And I'm not just saying that loosely. Saito is a wonderful man with a great gem for a sushi bar. People, like Erin said, don't let its surroundings fool ya' - be prepared to empty your wallets for the freshest fish in town! I'm missing Silver Lake already, we need a Saito's here in Eagle Rock...

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