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High End Tokyo Sushi - Saito, Sawada and...

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Hi everyone,

i am currently planning my summer trip in Japan and me and my wife would like to try a high end Sushi place in Tokyo for the first time ever. We are from France and we speak english. After reading a lot of review in various websites, i asked my hotel concierge to book dinner (or lunch if dinner is booked) at Saito and as a second choice, Sawada. They will try to make the reservation the first day of July for end of August (5 days window for them to find us a reservation).

We asked them for any recommandations apart from Saito and Sawada and they came with Sukiyabashi Jiro Ginza (This one we would like to avoid as he tends not to be very friendly with Gainjins for the least...), Sushi Kanesaka and Kyubei (These last two i am not really convinced as i didn't read much reviews about them...)

So my question is if they can't get us a reservation for Saito or Sawada, what would you recommend for a first high end sushi experience in Tokyo ? I heard about Iwa or Yoshitake... any tips are appreciated.

Saito and Sawada are still good choices for lunch (if dinner is booked) ?

If you are seeing this, Ninisix, i would greatly welcome your thought about this as you seems to have a very impressive knowing of High end sushi ! :-)

Thanks a lot !

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  1. my fav are saito and sawada.. and tbh i am not a fan of sukiyabashi jiro, i think while its good its no where near what saito / sawada has to offer.. personally i wouldn't go to iwa / kanesaka / kyubei... some other sushiyas (that are easier to book) that i would suggest would be sushi umi (sho-style, alternate between otsumami and nigiri), sushi kimura (intensely-aged fish) and sushi tokami (best maguro). I also heard many good things about imamura and nakamura.

    1. July August is already too short for reservation to Saito San, Miyako sushi. Mitani, for exemple, is one year! But, sushi Sawada, if you choose the full omakase, is a nice choice. Still, the price will climb to more than 35,000 each. So if you want to have nice sushi tour, sushi I recommend you to have dinner at sushi Yoshitake, or sushi Tokami and lunch at sushi Iwa for the same price, but with different enjoyment.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ninisix

        Thanks for your reply !

        @jmui852 I agree with you. We will try to get some more infos about thos 4 sushi places you mention just in case...

        @Ninisix My concierge told me that reservations for august begins today july 1st but it may be already fully booked before by regulars... Price is not a problem for Sawada, i heard so many great things about it ! Thank you for your dinner and lunch suggestions.

        I hope we will succeed in getting at least a reservation at one of those !

      2. I recently went to Sawada for lunch (otsumami + sushi), and while it was excellent, I did not find the experience to be any more enjoyable than my meals at taichi ($85 lunch for sushi only or otsumami + sushi for ~$155). It's clear that Sawada is at a very high level as experienced posters like Ninisix like it very much, but I just couldn't pick up the differences.

        With regard to Taichi, this board has posted that Taichi prefers Japanese speakers, which makes sense as he and his staff speak very little Englsh. Still, there are a host of other excellent sushi places that will be comparable and in my mind no less of an experience, such as Iwa.

        7 Replies
        1. re: ethan111

          Ethan111, thank you for your comment. Sorry if I gave that impression, but I am not such a big fan of sushi Sawada ... One the plus side, the big pieces are very well done, especially if you do like sea urchin. They do provide a good taste of the ingredients. But the nigiri, humm, without sake, I do not fully appreciate. Even if Sawada San is famous for his aged maguro, sushi Tokami does have really better maguro, . There, meal begins with a maki kind of mousse of maguro and red vinegar rice that fully impress

          1. re: Ninisix

            Thank you for your input Ethan111. Looks like our first high end sushi experience will be with Sawada-san and his wife for dinner. We just learned that our concierge succeeded in getting us a reservation there. We are very happy and we look forward to dining there.

            We surely hope it will live up to the expectations but we don't have many doubts...

            Ninisix, can you confirm that Sawada-san (and his wife) talk a little bit english ?

            1. re: kidrobot

              Unfortunately Sawada San - and his wife who anyway won't speak during dinner - don't speak English. Everything is be show in front of your eyes, though ! If you have, like me, some surprise and say for ex. oh that is baby 'hotate(scallop)', they will be very gentle and explain what is it, in this case 'kobashira' is a muscle conductor of the shell akagai...

              1. re: Ninisix

                Thank you for the extensive information, Ninisix, you are truly living up to the expectations ! I surely have surprises as this will be my first high end sushi experience in my entire life...there will be some questions asked.

                1. re: kidrobot

                  Just to update on my 3rd lunch visit to Sawada. Sawada's wife do speak English and her english has improved significantly compare to my visit 2 years ago. In fact, his wife explains to us in english on how to savour each course of sashimi. The Itamae himself however can only utter a few english word yet I can sense he did try his best to communicate in english. We enjoyed it very much and I believe we weren't charge for extra pieces.

                  1. re: silverlim

                    That is nice to hear as i may need some help in order to apreciate the full extend of what will be an amazing experience i'm sure.

            2. re: Ninisix

              Yes, apologies, you were clearly steering the OP to some lower priced (but equally good, if not better!) choices.

              While I enjoyed Sawada-san's uni tower (what sushi lover wouldn't?!) I only remember it, because I had never seen something like it before (For those who haven't been, it's like a triple sized portion of uni scooped into a nori wrap (vertical) with base of rice at the bottom. Sadly, this and the single goose berry given to you at the end of the meal were the only memorable pieces for me. Next time I'm in the mood for sushi I will try Tokami. Thanks!

          2. Hi I'm planning to go to Japan during the same period as well. I failed to get a place at saito but got a booking at hashiguchi. Do you think that place is comparable to saito? And what are the chances I get lucky and get a walk in at saito? Praying that someone cancels during my time there.