1500 sqft | Shiro, Singapore
An accomplished Japanese chef of renowned mastery and an haute cuisine restaurant to be inserted into a quiet, aging middle-class sub-urban neighbourhood with a handful of small businesses that have lost their relevance several years since.
The act of fine dining is savoured for the expectancy of the experience that is to come – if this is so, then the experience begins from the moment the reservations are made, and the process of ritual encompasses the experience. Perhaps then, the unlikely becomes the twist that heightens and individualises the ritual, and place becomes irrevocably woven into the experiential process.
A Japanese dining experience does not begin from the moment we are served our first course; if that were so, it would be akin to arriving during the second act.
We are seldom awarded the privilege of observing a Japanese master chef at work- his works are created with consummate ease, but the deftness of hand and an economy of movement belie years of training the perfecting of a skill and an art form. Yet in our dining experience the courses that we are served are orphaned and anonymous, merely placed in front of us to be consumed.
Imagine then, that the experience begins from the unremarkable drive through and into the neighbourhood, and to park like the other cars, between the gates of one of the many rows of modest homes along the leaf-strewn road. Among the row of shops closed for the day, a glass fronted but curtained veiled façade corresponds with the given address, and a dimly lit brass plaque confirms the location – but the door is locked. By intercom your reservation is acknowledged and the entrance door remotely opened from some unseen location. Greeted by name and escorted through a dimmed, passageway, it leads into an intimate dining room fully draped in darkened silk and you are seated at your private table – then to find that, though you are the subtly pampered dinner guest, you observe in a cosy half-light as the room envelopes and focuses itself to the marble plinth bathed in light…it is dinner theatre with a twist – the limelight belongs to the chef and on this ‘stage’, the evening begins..