Saito -- Sushi, Steak and Cocktails makes its long-awaited Atlanta debut

Saito -- Sushi, Steak and Cocktails opens today in downtown Atlanta, more than two years after plans for the restaurant were initially announced.

Located in a 100-year-old building at 19 Andrew Young International Blvd. that was formerly home to women’s clothing store Regenstein’s, Saito comes from Stephen de Haan and Greg Grant, the team behind adjoining speakeasy bar Red Phone Booth and eatery Amalfi Pizza.

Also a part of the project is master chef Saito Saito, who was born and raised in Fukushima, Japan, where he began his sushi apprenticeship at the age of 12. He apprenticed in Japan for more than 10 years and has opened more than 30 restaurants in cities including New York, Las Vegas, London and Paris.

The restaurant’s menu, developed by Saito, de Haan and Grant, features rolls, sashimi, nigiri, steak and other Japanses dishes. Dishes include tuna tataki, ahi poke, tonkatsu curry, broiled orange ginger salmon and hoisin garlic korubuta chop made with Berkshire pork. Grant said fresh fish is brought in daily, sourced “from premium Japanese seafood vendors.”

Maki options include the 404 made with crabstick, avocado, cucumber, mixed fish, caviar and sesame sauce and the Kami Kazi made with eel, avocado, crab stick, red and green caviar, red pepper, scallions and barbecue sauce. Omakase service is also available.

The beverage program, developed by de Haan, Grant and Jason Furr, utilizes techniques from Red Phone Booth. Look for cocktails including the Hibiscus Sake Sour made with Nigori sake, honey hibiscus syrup, lemon juice and egg whites and the Green Tea Highball with Japanese whisky, green tea and honey syrup and carbonated soda.

Other options include more than Japanese whiskys and more than 40 sakes, an infused vodka flight, wines and a variety of Japanese beers. Drinks are served over double reverse osmosis ice pressed into a sphere from a Taisin ice mold. After 10 p.m. nightly, the restaurant turns into a late-night lounge area, with a focus on cocktails and other drinks.

Designed by CDM Interiors, the 2,200 square-foot space features four large chandeliers, each with 400 crystal fittings; a hand-painted floating ceiling meant to mimic ocean waves; and a back bar covered in antique mirrored tile.

Grant said much of the industrial look of the original building was preserved, including the exposed ceiling and brick.

The “intimate” interior seats about 50, with a covered outdoor patio adding an additional 16 seats. Glass storefront windows can be fully opened, creating an indoor-outdoor experience.

In addition to their downtown ventures, Grant and de Haan have expanded the Red Phone Booth and Amalfi footprint to Nashville, with plans to open additional locations in Texas, Florida and one in Buckhead this summer.

Hours are 4-11 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Masks are required for employees. In the coming weeks, look for lunch service as well as takeout and delivery.

19 Andrew Young International Blvd., Atlanta.

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