September 10, 2013 Metn Mount Lebanon Lebanon Middle East

SAI: Third Visit, First Disappointment

Phone Number: +961 4 403020

Address: Azar Centre, Rabyeh, Metn, Lebanon


Price Range: 35-60 $


Welcoming: 2/5

Food Temperature: 7/10

Ambiance / Music: 5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 15/30

Architecture / Interior: 8/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 1/10

Value for money: 7/10

For the first time, I'm not going to write a detailed review about a restaurant I've visited, but rather I would like to talk about my disappointment regarding a popular issue on the rise around town and that is the inconsistency and unsustainable quality and service in a restaurant.


I've already been to SAI twice. It's a place I have liked from the first time I visited. I listed it in my Top10 recommended Sushi restaurants. In July 2012 I wrote: "As a middle range Japanese restaurant, they found a way to enter the country’s top 20 in just a couple of weeks."

My first impression was so good that I started my article with"The best thing at SAI is its first impression: A smiling waiter welcomes you warmly into a nice and cozy trendy restaurant." A few months afterwards, in December 2012, I couldn't but show my amazement towards the positive and continuous improvements, which has differentiated SAI from many others restaurants: "A couple of months ago, when my wife and I visited SAI for the first time, we were amazed by the professionalism and great taste this restaurant had to offer, so we decided to come back again and make sure it's still serving the same quality. Because unfortunately in this country, good things don’t last too long."


What I loved back then:

  • The fresh sea-breathe smell as soon as you enter the restaurant
  • The owner's constant presence at the restaurant
  • The waiters welcoming, professionalism and friendliness
  • The perfection of the food: "The delicious food: In simple words: BRAVO. The Makis are perfectly rolled, fresh and tasty with adequate taste and a perfectly cooked rice, not sweet and not crunchy. All the ingredients make you want to eat one bite after the other. The crunchy pieces are crunchy enough and the soft ones melt as it should under your teeth."


It seems that SAI has tripped off its high horses. They have become overwhelmed by their success story - or should I say short story. None of the things that once made SAI one of the good sushi places around seems to have maintained itself... On a calm Sunday night, in a restaurant with an occupancy of five tables only... A small place with four waitresses, nothing seems to be right:

  • The owner was unavailable
  • A supervisor, behind the counter didn't approach our table or any other
  • Four repulsive and unsmiling waitresses who didn't even welcome us or take our order properly
  • Service was slow as the kitchen was busy preparing delivery orders
  • Finishing dinner, plates were not removed until I asked for that
  • Desserts menu please: Only one menu was delivered even though we were four. A menu thrown at me in an unprofessional way

The food tonight was BAD:

  • The rice was over cooked and watery
  • The pieces were falling apart
  • The Teriyaki sauce was bitter and inedible
  • The salmon sashimi was dry with an unpleasant crunch
  • The nori leaves were way too spongy


The unacceptable:

  • We have been used to receiving wet towels after dinner. Where did this ritual disappear?
  • Soft drinks, following food safety regulations, must be served in transparent cups so the client sees what's inside. How can we know if these dark cups are clean?
  • Almost all cups are broken, pay attention not to injure your lips
  • Please stop using these ugly green grass separators. How unprofessional!
  • You would have to drink Pepsi since Coke is not proposed in here
  • Almaza is the only choice of beer. Aren't they aware of the existence of other brands like 961 Beer in Lebanon

I'm sorry to tell you that I'm reconsidering the conclusion I have published in December 2012: "As a good and affordable Japanese restaurant, SAI is part of the medium range class of sushi restaurants in town and I can safely say that it will be entering my 2013 top 10 list, serving high-end preparations in a pleasant and cozy restaurant owned and managed by professionals." Unfortunately, like almost all restaurants nowadays in our beloved country, it is too good to be true to find a place maintaining its quality. If SAI continues this way, it won't be long before it closes. We paid 150$ and left unhappy. The Metn area is still searching for a decent Japanese restaurant...





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