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November 17, 2017  By Rob Buscher, Contributor

For more than 30 years, Madame Saito has impressed Philadelphia with her culinary creations, including her invention of the world-famous ‘Philly roll,’ in her efforts to achieve the American dream.


About eight blocks southeast of the Liberty Bell sits the location of Philadelphia’s godmother of Japanese cuisine and self-proclaimed “Queen of Sushi” Madame Saito. For more than 30 years, Saito has been an ambassador of Japanese culture and fusion cuisine in the Greater Philadelphia community, continuing that legacy through her current restaurant property Tokio HeadHouse.

Born in Kobe, Japan, Saito spent her childhood growing up in many different countries including France, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and the U.S. because her father owned a food import and export business. Although her given name is Ai, people in Paris called her Madame, which is the name she adopted throughout her life since.