October 23, 2023 — Stepping into a Mohamed Sultan shophouse, visitors are immediately greeted with a Zen garden that bathes in light and a twelve-seat counter that encourages self-guided Zen experiences through mini karesansui gardens. Every diner receives a poetic welcome note, signalling their entry into Sushi Takahashi, Singapore’s outpost of the revered Tokyo-based restaurant.
This establishment mirrors the celebrated Ginza haunt, renowned for Chef Jun Takahashi’s culinary artistry. His exceptional takes on otsumami, like the notable crab croquette and the signature Awabi with Uni Handroll, have been the talk of Tokyo’s gourmet circuits. However, in Singapore, the torch has been passed to Takahashi’s eight-year-long protege, Chef Rinto Sasagawa.
At a mere 24 years old, Sasagawa is already a maestro in sushi and kappo-style kaiseki. With the artistry and precision of a seasoned chef, he crafts traditional dishes, infusing them with innovative twists. A signature dish, “Competition between two eels”, creatively presents freshwater and saltwater eels, challenging diners to discern one from the other.
The scallop chawanmushi, a seemingly ordinary dish that, when served, transforms into a work of art, also captivates visitors. A surprising black pepper-forward palate enhances the velvety surface of the steamed egg, revealing delicate blooms beneath it.
Beyond his artistry, Sasagawa’s sushi lineup showcases less common delights, such as the deep-sea menuke rockfish from Hokkaido and the delicate saba sushi, highlighted with ginger and spring onion—a dish the chef holds dear.
The experience culminates with an exquisite rice bowl featuring monkfish liver and uni and a handcrafted dessert of muscat grape daifuku paired with mizu shingen mochi. Eschewing the predictability of a fruit platter, Sasagawa’s desserts encapsulate his modern take on traditional delights.
While Sasagawa’s energy and youthful charm shine through his dishes, his discipline and dedication to his craft are palpable. His lineage traces back to Shizuoka prefecture, where his father designed traditional tea rooms and his grandmother was a respected tea master. This legacy is evident when Sasagawa meticulously conducts the matcha ceremony, encapsulating his reverence for tradition and the bond formed over a shared meal.
When a sushi master’s finesse mesmerised the young Sasagawa, his culinary journey began. This fascination led to discipleship and countless hours of honing his skills, studying cookbooks, and witnessing the early-morning bustle of fish markets. For Sasagawa, the essence of sushi is in the shari, or vinegared rice. His perfectly calibrated shari ensures the fish remains the star of the dish.
Uniquely, Sasagawa delves into the link between chemistry and cooking. By understanding “deliciousness” through a scientific lens, he aspires to innovate while preserving traditional skills. Dining at Takahashi, one savours dishes ranging from the bonito fish aged for three years, used for the dashi in an asari clam soup, to a modern tamago drizzled with caramel sauce.
In essence, while traditions remain firm, the definition of ‘delicious’ is ever-evolving, and Sushi Takahashi on Mohamed Sultan Road offers a delectable blend of both. Stay tuned to DEI for more updates.