SASA SUSHI 笹鮨No. 6, Lane 42, Zhongshan N. Rd., Sec. 2
Hours: 11:30AM- 2:30PM; 6:30PM- 10PM
Price: $$$$ (NT$2000-5000+ per person)
Visit reviewed: 10/2016
SASA SUSHI IS ONE OF THE MORE WELL KNOWN and well regarded sushi bars in Taipei, with fans like RAW's Chef Andre Chiang among its customers. Hadn't been to Sasa in YEARS and only once before when I didn't really pay over NT$1000 for sushi. Now that I'm slightly less clueless about Taipei omakase values and sushi, Sasa is still a splurge, but I was satisfied with taste and amount in NT$2500 (about US$80) lunch set with almost 20 pieces/courses, in contrast to some other sushi bars I had recently tried. Dinner sets can run NT$5000 and up, but I think the same level of sushi would cost even more in the US. Sushi is elegant and straightforward, so that the focus is on the taste rather than the presentation or creative interpretations that I've experienced at other sushi bars.
Of course it's always more fun to sit at the sushi bar, but for a big group they put us inside another private room, where it's easier to talk to each other (and be loud). Like many sushi bars in Taipei, there is no menu- you let them know how much you want to spend and enjoy the ride. Sasa's omakase offers a mix of sashimi, sushi and cooked foods- if you want just sushi and no cooked foods, you should let them know in advance. They also ask if there's anything you don't eat- for me, I prefer not to eat sushi that have a strong "fishy" taste like sanma or kohada.
Kinmedai, Katsuo, Sawara and Ainame
Chawanmushi (steamed egg) with abalone
Ika (squid) - yum! one of my favorite bites of the meal
Grilled Eel (unagi)
Pickled radish, cucumbers and ginger
Sanma (I didn't get this one since I requested to have less strong fishy fish)
Kue (so instead of the sanma they gave me this, which I liked)
Ikura (in a mini bowl over rice)
For me, Sasa sits in the sushi bar category of "the more you spend, the better service you'll get" which I feel like is true for many of the high end sushi bars in Taipei. This visit, I went with a friend who mentioned that despite going a number of times over the years, she didn't feel like the chef really remembered her until she had spent over NT$5000 several times. If this is the sort of thing that would bother you, then Sasa probably isn't for you. I personally feel like the sushi chefs should treat each customer the same regardless of whether or not they are a VVIP or a new customer coming in and spending the minimum. Sasa certainly isn't the worst offender (I've definitely experienced overt disrespect from a sushi chef elsewhere in Taipei despite spending over NT$2500), I was just reminded of it when I was looking at a customer review on their Facebook page. Next time I got back to Sasa, I'd like to sit at the sushi bar to see if I have a different experience than before. Advance reservations recommended.