Saito Sushi Kata

Getting a reservation at Saito sushi in Tokyo is like pulling a tooth from a saber tooth tiger ……

Invited to Saito sushi, no doubt delicious and thanks to our dear friend we enjoy local Japanese seasonal fish all soothed with Salon 2006 ~_*….

The popularity of sushi is based around the notion of a single bite, and think of it. The action of the chef, he may say when he works, or simple poise forward and his actions and his motions, all well defined. The exercise takes less than a minute; the fish is cut and then the process begins.

Sushi looks like a very simple food and in many ways it is, however the details are extraordinary and really make the difference in taste. I have been writing about sushi for more than 30 years and I am still intrigued. While each person has his/hers opinion about what is good taste, there are certain standards to take into consideration when making any judgement.

We begin to see the importance of a chef’s experience, concentration, form, function and skill set when it all comes together, and no two sushi chefs or sushi are the same. Sushi as most foods is about relationships between clients, a standard as many foreigners wouldn’t have in their minds such details.

If you take a look at the fish you can see several indicative elements which give you some hints as to the quality. First understanding the fish itself and without story telling something many sushi aficionados like to do.

If you look at the rice and the fish, of course the cut of the fish is key, and the quality of the raw materials goes without saying. In these photos you notice the hand position and the sequence of events to make a single nigiri. Saito san is positioned with his elbows and his hands, a sushi kata, Kata is a Japanese word meaning “form”. It refers to a detailed choreographed pattern of martial arts movements made to be practised alone or in a group. Sushi kata is all about swiftness and precision, the over and over again concentration of movements.

The waiting time, or as I call it, “the sushi stall” is the defining moment in the production of a single nigiri where the chef reaches forward, holds his hand in an open position. It is only then the chef has finished compressing the fish and rice, and there is some visible contact between the chef and the client as he adds the finishing touches. He can do no more, he has one chance to get it right as clients sit directly opposite the chef.

When any sushi chef is working at this level his posture is important and his hand position – his elbow is downward and dexterity really does make an important difference – an upward Keito hand position similar to karate. The loose grip is the final stage prior to serving the sushi.

The coordination of the fish it starts with the cut – obviously it’s important. The rice is a matter of the coordination of your right hand or your left hand – you need both obtain the correct amount fish-rice proportions. And you need to be able to coordinate the movements and get the right pressure through practiced technique.

Imagine there are hundreds of rice morsels used in making one sushi. The compressed rice is topped with fresh fish, and under the fish is a dab of wasabi. Then on top nikiri, the key to the first impression, the liquid taste is swiped a top the nigiri – and away you go. The fish is completed, and the four elements make up a single taste. No doubt these movements are paired with your taste receptors, the compression and mastication all makes a difference.

The chef has carefully selects his sweetness and umami, the ultimate in balance. You can see the rice has a certain shape and this really depends on how the rice is compressed in the chef’s hand.

When enjoying authentic sushi, you rarely use Shoyu, (soda sauce) it is like taking a salt shaker and dumping it over your food – it doesn’t end well. Shoyu is brewed and fermented, or the other way around. It has intense aromas and taste, so using it is a matter of knowing when: otherwise you run into trouble.

At Saito sushi, there is no shoyu sauce so you wouldn’t worry about it. However in many sushi restaurants customers bathe there sushi in shoyu (soya sauce) and it is a matter of knowledge or simple ignorance. I could go on and on about sushi – you’ll probably get bored so enjoy the images and the brave and tender skills of a master chef.