kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest

step inside Suzuki at Mondrian Singapore Duxton

 

A new chapter in Japanese cuisine opens with the debut of Suzuki at Mondrian Singapore Duxton hotel. Named after its head chef, Suzuki Yuichiro, and signed by Kengo Kuma, the intimate sushi bar seats a full house of 12 diners at the counter of its open-kitchen, whilst the private dining room seats six to eight. Suzuki – which adjoins the ground floor entrance of the Mondrian, marks the Tokyo-based architect’s debut commercial project in Singapore with his trademark blend of elegance and sophistication. ‘There are two touchstones in all my designs – simplicity and materiality. With Suzuki, I really wanted to create a harmonious balance where these two elements could co-exist. I’m very pleased that in such a small space as this, we’ve been able to capture the essence of Japanese culture,’ shares Kengo Kuma. In a quiet, subtle nod to Suzuki’s delicate sushi menu, the floor-to-ceiling glass facade is clad in an intricate pattern of Kyoto bamboo that takes the almost subliminal shape of a wave. 

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
all images courtesy Mondrian Singapore

 

 

a warmly-lit sushi bar by kengo kuma with subtle woodsy notes

 

Guests enter the Suzuki restaurant at the Mondrian Singapore Duxton hotel through a stone-lined passage which opens into a warmly lit space lined with a teak floor. At the entrance is a 600kg piece of ancient Gifu stone that serves as the reception desk. To the side is a small nakaniwa, or internal courtyard garden, featuring a fountain made from a solid piece of Nagano stone, and a kakehi water feature, surrounded by rocks and pebbles, literally millions of years old, collected from Gifu. Overhead is a faux skylight that creates the illusion of an outdoor courtyard. During the service hours, the space is especially transformed when the skylight is dimmed to a soft glow to mimic twilight. Holding centre-stage in Suzuki is an L-shaped open kitchen where guests sit along a counter bench cut from a single plank of 150-year-old hinoki. This rare timber, harvested from the forests of Nagano, is essential to an authentic sushi experience at Suzuki, as its subtle woodsy note, says Kengo Kuma (see more here), harmoniously complements the taste of fresh fish.

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
inside the SUZUKI sushi bar by Kengo Kuma

 

 

enveloping the SUZUKI interiors and ceiling with bamboo

 

Creating the illusion of a wooded glen in a Japanese forest, the architect suspends a floating bamboo platform over the open kitchen, its gently inclined angle drawing the eye downward towards the nakaniwa garden. Behind the kitchen, an almost invisible door opens into the glass-walled and bamboo-line, private dining room. A half scrim of washi paper discretely screens off the top-half of the room, whilst allowing diners inside to look out into the rock garden. Remarkably, every single piece of furniture and furnishings in Suzuki is bespoke or handmade – from the cloth napkins embroidered with the chef’s name in hiragana text by the celebrated Kyoto-based calligrapher Tomoko Kawao and the handmade washi paper that sheathes the kitchen cupboards and walls, to the antique soup bowls and classic modern birch chairs that the architect had first designed for the café in Tokyo’s Nezu Museum. Elaborating on his material selection, Kengo Kuma comments: ‘I also insisted on using hinoki wood from Nagano for the sushi counter. Most sushi bars don’t use it, but this wood is very special to the touch. It’s an essential part of a sushi bar because it complements the smell of fish in a way that creates a special harmony and multi-sensorial experience for the diner.’

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
suspending a floating bamboo platform over the open kitchen

 

 

The effect, therefore, is a traditional, yet modern and sophisticated, homage to the classic sushi bar, an effect that becomes even more apparent when executive chef and owner, Chef Suzuki steps up to the counter to begin preparing the meal. Here, every moment – whether in the selection of the premium produce where every ingredient and seasoning is flown in from Japan four times a week, the impeccable plating, or the unfolding of pristine flavours– is carefully orchestrated by the chef, the staff dressed in traditional kimonos, and the F&B Assistant Director, Miura Sota. Menu-wise, with uncommon skill and a deft touch cultivated in some of the finest Japanese restaurants in the world, including the famed Kikunoi in Kyoto, Chef Suzuki unveils a classic sushi and sashimi menu of seasonal flavours.

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
the private dining room at Suzuki seats six to eight guests

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
an internal courtyard garden at Suzuki

kengo-kuma-suzuki-designboom-full

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
a traditional yet modern and sophisticated design

kengo kuma's bamboo-lined suzuki sushi bar in singapore is an ode to the japanese forest
architect Kengo Kuma

kengo-kuma-suzuki-designboom-full-3
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