At @! Restaurant you’ll see owner and head chef Atsushi Saito preparing dishes with laser-like focus behind his open sushi bar.
Humble and yet highly skilled, Saito started his training as a traditional sushi apprentice near Tokyo in 1987. He’s gone on to have an impressive career including time at the renowned Nobu Restaurant in the Bahamas and Sydney’s Yoshii and Sushi e restaurants. @! Restaurant, which opened in 2012, is his first independent venture.
Glance up from up the sushi bar and you’ll be greeted with an Astro Boy figurine which Saito jokes is his twin. Food is served on striking glazed ceramics crafted by Mitsuo Shoji. His work is famous in Japanese society and Saito has been using his pieces since he was an apprentice. The rest of the fit-out is minimalistic with simple, light-coloured wood furniture.
All dishes are perfectly executed, with pride taken in the preparation of every element. Entrees include nasu dengaku, a fried and grilled eggplant enhanced with a sweet miso sauce; and a moreish seaweed salad with a distinct chewy texture.
Mains include Saito’s own creation – a Wagyu steak sitting in a deep-fried potato nest. It’s backed by ample sashimi, sushi and nagiri options made with seafood bought each day from the Sydney Fish Markets.
If you’re feeling indecisive try the omakase (“I’ll leave it up to the chef”) option, and trust Saito to create a tasty surprise using the best produce of the day.