“Love and passion in sushi.” That’s the thought that drives Masaki Saito, executive chef of Sushi Ginza Onodera, which received a second star for the 2018 MICHELIN Guide New York City.
Here, Saito serves up sushi via the edomae style. “Edomae sushi style is slow cooked, marinated, steamed, grilled—it’s an old method,” he says.
“Fresh sushi style is only rice on the fish. You eat, and it’s so simple,” Saito continues. “My sushi style is fresh fish and how to make it more and more tasty. For example, steam, grill, marinate and cured—so many, many kinds.”
“New York is beautiful—center of the world!” Saito exclaims. The Hokkaido born chef came to New York City in 2015 to open the restaurant in the heart of Midtown Manhattan; Sushi Ginza Onodera received it’s first Michelin star within it’s first six months of business.
“So surprised, oh my god,” he recalls when he heard the news. “I got one star, so exciting. Second, more and more exciting. Three? Die.”
“The musician and the chef and the contractor all is a shokunin. Shokunin are craftspeople, and they must have passion and hope. A sushi chef has no goal because we must make the same quality every day. Same quality is to continue, continue, continue every day. It’s so difficult. There are 365 days.”
“Sushi is a science,” he continues. “For example, the temperature and the humidity are different. It’s different every day, but we must make the same quality. It’s so difficult because we are humans, not machines.”
Ultimately, Saito wants his customers to be happy—ultimately, it’s what makes him happy, too.
Video and photos shot by Kathryn M. Sheldon, an award-winning producer, photographer and editor with a background in still photography and television production. Having produced food and beverage content for seven years at NBC, she is currently producing video content for the MICHELIN Guide.