In a benign strip mall, on Sunset Blvd, hides a sushi bar that many people refer to as “the best in town!” Saito’s Sushi is walking distance from my prime Happy Hour haunt, Tiki Ti, and has become the number one spot my friends and I hit up after sloshing it up on rum and pineapple and Toro chasers! Er… I realize tropical drinks plus sushi sounds like a terrible idea, but there have been no ‘regrettable moments’ from this mix: A testament to the quality of Saito’s fish—and vegetables. The interior is sparse, a somewhat understated mess, with a simplicity reflected in the sushi.
The Edamame, still warm from steaming, is lightly flecked with salt. The portion is small, but it’s the only vegetarian option to start with. Plus, edamame is a crowd pleaser and makes a standard beginning to an above standard meal.
The ocean blue platter arrives filled with an assortment of items that fall far outside of my expertise. But those two yellow slabs of Tomago are all mine! I acknowledge that tomago is made with dashi—a fact I don’t care for—but I respect that it is traditional. So though it a contains trace amount of fish, I can’t help but love these sweet eggy slabs.
My go-to order is the Americanized Avocado Maki. Though it’s ‘not on the menu,’ I’ve yet to find a sushi bar that won’t make this for me. Although avocados are mild, I find the other standard vegetarian option—cucumber rolls— completely tasteless. Saito’s rolls are pretty typical…. pretty typically delicious! The Shitake Mushroom Maki is another reliable choice. Normally offered as sushi, Saito will make it as maki by request.
When it comes to the sushi my basis for judgment is very minimal. I mean, it is nearly impossible to make a bad avocado roll. I concede that the normal elements by which to judge a sushi bar, variations and quality of raw fish, is totally lost on me. So it’s in the other, subtle, elements that I base my opinion on. Such as Saito’s perfect rice. Polished white grains held together by gravity rather than gummy starches– and served just slightly above room temperature. The food tastes light and clean, still radiating the slight heat of the chef’s hands.
Saito’s menu is simply a guideline. Ordering here is more of a conversation rather than checking boxes with a tiny pencil. But it must be noted that there is little to no pricing information, so you are ordering with an open wallet. At the end you’re given a bill that simply says “sushi” and a total price. I find this style of billing leaves me pitching in way more then I should for my veggie meal. But all my omnivore friends fawn over this place and I’m perfectly happy to join them here!
4339 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029