Paul Grinberg is on a mission. The 57-year-old manager of international operations for Encore Capital Group has, since 2011, attempted to eat at the top 100 restaurants in the world. He has thus far eaten at 99 of them, traveling far and wide to Istanbul, Madrid, Cape Town, even enduring meals at 10 of France’s three-star Michelin restaurants in a five-day span. But on his quest to 100, a four-seat, members-only sushi restaurant in Tokyo eludes him. This week, the Wall Street Journal illuminates Grinberg’s tragic plight.
Grinberg’s goal is to secure a meal at Tokyo’s Sushi Saito, his final checkmark on the list of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” published by William Reed Business Media (confusingly, the list actually includes 100 restaurants, split into two groups of 50). While a few food critics have dined at all the spots in the top 50, none has so far eaten at all 100.
Sushi Saito remains Grinberg’s white whale. Despite working his connections at (deep breath) McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, American Express, Japanese car makers, and hedge funds, Grinberg has not been able to secure a table at the elusive Sushi Saito. He even tried arriving at the restaurant and pleading his case, to no avail.
“Mr. Grinberg can’t understand it. To reach his Top-100 goal, he said, other restaurants and chefs have gone out of their way to accommodate him by staying open after hours or squeezing him into a fully booked room,” the WSJ reports, backed by the plaintive notes of the world’s smallest violin.
Sushi Saito is notoriously difficult to get into; it has no website and no email address, and answers the phone only on the first day of each month. It is also open to members only; guests must apply for a membership or dine with another member. Thus far, Grinberg’s calls, Instagram pleas, and personal connections have not been successful. Perhaps that’s because the restaurant itself doesn’t seem especially interested in helping Grinberg achieve his goal.
Per the WSJ: “A publicist who works with Sushi Saito said the restaurant was aware of Mr. Grinberg’s requests.”
Takeout readers, we implore you to help poor Mr. Grinberg. Surely one of you is a former Haliburton CEO, heir to a large oil magnate’s fortune, or the Monopoly man. We beseech you to look within your shriveled billionaire hearts and help this needy gentleman who is so deserving of our pity and aid. Won’t someone, oh someone, please hook Grinberg up with a Sushi Saito reservation? Don’t make me play Sarah McLachlan.