"If a Japanese man calls you a sayori, don't be charmed. It is a backhanded compliment, Sammi-san," warns Makoto Sam Saito of Sushi Hibiki. Sometimes sage and sometimes silly, the sushi chef can be difficult to decipher, but his meaning becomes clear after he plonks down an exquisite piece of sushi on my plate. "Sayori—in English I think it is called Japanese halfbeak—has beautiful white flesh with a black stripe at the centre. So a woman who is a sayori is beautiful but has a bad heart."
Such cultural tidbits, along with more than 20 kinds of premium sushi, are fed to us over the next two hours, and when I say us, I am alluding to the 80 fortunate sushi fans who managed to score seats to Sushi Summit 2020. Despite more than doubling last year's guest count (Volume 1 last year only accommodated 36 diners), all spots sold out in slightly over a week.
What makes Sushi Summit unique is its format whereby different chefs rotate from guest to guest; think of it as speed dating for sushi lovers. This makes it much easier to pinpoint your personal taste in sushi.
Like speed dating, guests make the acquaintance of several personalities in a single event. Unlike speed dating, sweaty-palmed singles are swapped for steady-handed chefs who excel at the art of sushi. More on these master chefs below:
MAKOTO SAM SAITO | SUSHI HIBIKI
A gatekeeper of Edomae-sushi and one of our Top 20 Restaurants in 2020, Sushi Hibiki is spearheaded by Makoto Sam Saito, an appreciator of au natural flavours, as proven by his clean presentations of the aforementioned sayori and kasugo (spring baby snapper). Even the soy sauce-marinated sawara zuke (Spanish mackerel) and smoky anago (sea conger eel) are simple compared to what's to come.
OUR FAVOURITE SUSHI BY HIM: No fancy fish goes into the making of Chef Sam's Oshinko Roll—just pickled radishes and sushi rice bundled up in nori to produce a 'baby burrito'. The pure simplicity of this snack, which highlights Japan's reliance on pickling, is humbling.