Takahashi Singapore, the first international offshoot of renowned Ginza omakase restaurant Sushi Takahashi, delivers the classic Japanese fine dining experience we’ve all come to expect.

You’d think there’s a dearth of good Japanese fine dining eateries in Singapore at the rate new omakase restaurants are opening up here. But the reverse is true. You find many tucked away in upmarket malls all over town, or scattered around wealthier neighbourhood precincts.

A goodly number has sprouted over the past year, undaunted by global economic uncertainty that have put the squeeze on spending. There’s the likes of Sushi Kawasemi, for example, which specialises in a more classic edomae approach, to the kappo-style Zuicho at Pan Pacific Singapore.

Among the latest to open is Takahashi Singapore, nestled along those Mohamed Sultan Road shophouse stretch that tend to house such fancy eateries. It is an offshoot of the illustrious and hard-to-book Ginza restaurant Sushi Takahashi by celebrated chef Jun Takahashi.

Chef Rinto Sasagawa, the Itamae at Takahashi Singapore

It is also Sushi Takahashi’s first international outlet. Which comes as no surprise; Chef Takahashi spent some time in Singapore promoting Japanese cuisine before returning to Japan to start his now famous namesake restaurant. This time though, he has sent his protégé in his place – Chef Rinto Sasagawa, who is all of 26 years old.

But Chef Sasagawa’s youth belies his skill and experience. He has trained under Chef Takahashi since he was just 16, which makes him more than a worthy itamae. His mentor must trust him so, to stake his formidable reputation on such a young chef.

Takahashi Singapore looks and feels like any other elegant Japanese restaurant, all clad in fine-grained cedar. There are just 12 seats built around the main counter where the boyish Chef Sasagawa holds court, orchestrating each of the dishes that will be headed your way. When we arrived, he was skilfully dissecting various cuts of fish into slender slices, for the sushi courses that is sure to come.

You’ll first be invited to partake in a karesansui ritual, where you’re encouraged to enter a state of mindful contemplation by raking sand in a wooden sandbox that’s supposed to represent a traditional Japanese rock garden.

I thought of all the fish that I’ll be eating later, and thanked them for their sacrifice. Itadakimasu!

The Karesansui Zen Garden Appetiser is a platter of seasonal Japanese goodies.

Another garden arrives, but at least now it’s an edible one. This is the restaurant’s signature platter of seasonal appetisers – ours was seasoned ikura, marinated slices of amberjack, and creamily indolent ankimo, or cured monkfish liver.

Various courses followed. There’s gunnel fish from Hokkaido, grilled simply over bincho to retain its fleshy sweetness. Tempura was a surf and turf course of well-battered beltfish and maitake, followed by a comforting chawanmushi topped with chunks of briny-sweet scallop.

Then begins the procession of nigiri sushi. Freshness is beyond any question. Chef Takahashi is a stickler for quality, and personally selects all the produce that gets used in both his Ginza and Singapore restaurants. From madai (red sea bream) and aji (horse mackerel) to hamaguri clam and shiro ebi (white shrimp), all were fresh as fresh can be. Each sits on a well moulded shari of rice, a blend of grains from Hokkaido and Yamagata chosen for bite and sweetness.

Fresh seafood is meticulously selected by Chef Takahashi to be sent over to Singapore.

Special mention for Chef Sasagawa’s negitoro and abalone furai handrolls – the latter topped off with some uni – both of which were flavourful textural experiences.

It’s clear Chef Takahashi has appointed a keen, talented young mentee to manage Takahashi Singapore in his place. If there’s anything to fault, it’s perhaps that Chef Sasagawa stuck religiously by the playbook he inherited. It’ll be interesting to see him come into his own and add his own personal touch.

We’d love to come back again when that happens.

Takahashi Singapore is open for lunch and dinner with two seatings per session. For lunch, diners can opt for eight kinds of nigiri and six dishes in the Koyo Menu at $180++, or eight kinds of nigiri and seven dishes in the Shurei Menu at $250++. Dinner offers diners the option of six kinds of nigiri and nine dishes in the Shugetsu Menu at $320++, or Takahashi’s Signature Omakase Kaminatsuki Menu at $420++ for eight kinds of nigiri and more than 10 courses.

Takahashi Singapore

Address 4 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 238955 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 10.30pm Wednesdays to Mondays; closed on Tuesdays
Tel (65) 8877 0501
Web www.takahashi.sg
Facebook sushitakahashi.sg
Instagram @sushitakahashi.sg
Reservations book here

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