I think i was just RIPPED OFF at SAITO SUSHI
This was my first time at Saito Sushi in Silver Lake. I've been to a lot of sushi places and consider myself to know a thing or two. I came into Saito's with high expectation of a neighborhood sushi place with fresh fish and good prices. WOW was I wrong. The fish was GOOD. Not great but GOOD. $50 pp GOOD. But not $90 pp GOOD. $14.50 toro, $13.50 uni and giant clam. ARE YOU KIDDING. Those are Mori, Zo, Hump prices. Not some strip mall place in the middle of the sushi desert of Silver Lake prices.
I am absolutely livid. Was I RIPPED OFF? Why would a sushi chef do that to me? Has anyone else had this experience? Do you think these prices are fair?
I have never raised a stink on Chowhound. In fact I have been a member for years and barely make a peep, but I think this needs to be heard.
Now that I am more calm and sober I will reply.
When I go out to dinner I always look at prices, except when it comes to sushi. I went into the dinner expecting to pay a considerable amount, as sushi is expensive. I consider myself an informed sushi buyer and can usually gauge a sushi place as far as cost... or so I thought. Perhaps this was my mistake. From now I will be more careful.
As far as the dining experience goes, they were very hospitable and I never even got a hint of attitude that you sometimes get from some sushi places. Previous to the check, my girlfriend and I decided that this was a place we could see ourselves coming back to regularly. We used to live on the west side and frequented similar places such as Aki and Hide. I didn't go to these places expecting the best sushi, but I could count on the check being about half of what Saito charged.
I'm not going to assume it, but I did feel like he was trying to "make up the difference" because of slow business. He did mention how he was getting fewer customers lately.
I was just there last week, and was just as disappointed. I will never be back. My SO was really craving sushi and our usual spot, Ike, was not open on that day (not sure why). I had heard a couple of good comments about Saito, so we headed there. As soon as we walked in I got a bad vibe. There was only one other customer there and the whole place looked, hmm, just very old and not very well taken care of. But whatever, some of my best meals have been had at some shady places, so we sit in front of Saito san. We had a large beer, and we decided to go with omakase.
We got a decent sashimi dish to start with, I believe it was red snapper. Then we had hamachi, albacore, shi maji, blue fin tuna and sweet shrimp (with a tiny bit of uni on top).
The shi maji was probably the best piece of fish, everything else was okay, not great. The total came out to 136 and change before tip!
It was not the worst sushi experience ever, but definitely felt we were over charged. You should try Ike next time you're in the area. It is not much cheaper, (and yes it is in a srip mall) but the quality is significantly better than Saito.
BTW, Ike is on 6051 Hollywood Blvd # 105.
The sad part is even crappy joints can cost an arm and a leg. 15 bucks for two pieces of toro, if it is good toro, can be standard. I've seen $20 for two pieces of toro in LA, and that was a few years back. Additionally, most sushi bars are in mini-malls, but the mini-mall Saito's is in next door to Garage PIzza and the infamously freaky Tang's Donuts, is not the most upmarket mini-mall in town.
When I moved into the neighborhood I really wanted to like Saito, but after a few average to bad experiences, I haven't been back.
The atmosphere is just sad, it just seems a bit dirty and rundown, without much thought or design consideration.
I found the fish to be generally OK. Some things have been good, but a couple of been inexcusably bad.
I agree that the pricing is too high. I had a great meal at Shibucho Costa Mesa recently for less than $100 for two for omakase with a couple of drinks. At Saito my last lunch was $65 for one with a diet coke and not eating much.
I don't like Saito's attitude. I respect the chef and it doesn't bother me when a chef expects a certain level of "Japanese politeness," but I found Saito to be generally disagreeable and a bit on the angry side. To be fair, he has treated me well the few times I have been in, but I have seen him sour quickly with other customers over what I would consider to be minor offenses. For example, I saw him angrily place a check in front of someone who just started eating because they ordered a roll only for lunch.
I too find it offensive when a restaurant seems to try to "make up the difference" by charging more to the customers they have when business is slow. I had the same feeling at Sushi Gen last week when I was charged about $80pp at the bar for what I was used to paying more like $50 for. However, caveat emptor. I don't think this can be considered "ripping off."