Executive chef Taro Takayama never nurtured childhood ambitions of becoming a chef. “I did my undergraduate studies in law hoping to become a lawyer,” he confesses. But one day, he saw a photo of a chef preparing sashimi, and instantly knew that was what he wanted to do. He trained under top chefs in three Michelin-starred Japanese restaurants, and was appointed master chef at the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Singapore, before he set up his omakase restaurant.
Takayama prepares an omakase menu influenced by the port city of Osaka and Japan’s four seasons. “I use seasonal produce and preserve the integrity of their flavours,” he says. At Takayama, you can find lightly grilled kinmedai (golden eye snapper, or alfonsino), or his signature Abalone + Uni dish. For the latter, he steams the abalone in sake, to give it a sweet taste, before adding in a liver emulsion and a dollop of fresh sea urchin.
Well-curated drinks list
As Takayama has travelled the world to taste as many beverage offerings as possible, it's no surprise that his restaurant's extensive drinks menu features more than a few notable pours. The sake menu alone boasts impressive labels such as Shinomine Junmai Ginjo, Sakemirai Junmai Ginjo, and Nabeshima Black Label, as well as the highly coveted Juyondai “14th Generation” from one of the most sought-after breweries in Japan.
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A short walk through a dim hallway leads you to the restaurant, designed by acclaimed Japanese interior designer Nobuhiro Nakamura. Dark tones endow the space with an elegant and contemporary ambience, illuminated by dozens of lamps. But it is still very much a kappo restaurant, as evinced by the counter table that seats 32 diners around an open kitchen manned by chatty chefs.
Forming the backbone of the restaurant is the spirit of omotenashi, or offering the best service to all diners. “From the way we greet guests to how we serve every course, you can expect the dining experience to be imbued with whole-hearted Japanese hospitality,” he says.
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