Feeling Like the First Time Again at Suzuki

Restaurant review from a half-regular omakase-diner bringing a first-timer to Suzuki at Mondrian Singapore Duxton
Published: 5 March 2024

There is this pervading sense that once you’ve had one omakase, you kinda had them all. I don’t speak for native Japanese, or self-proclaimed connoisseurs (ace a blind taste test and I’ll be convinced). It’s a sentiment observed and shared with the ground, and not necessarily a bad one.

After all, it is the epitome of premium Japanese produce expressed in time-honed tradition. Apart from seasonal offerings and rare creative deviance, the over thousand-year-old culinary craft is not liable to accommodate great change. As a consumer, neither would you want it to.

The gleeful anticipation of getting to sit down for one though, never fades. In bid to experience it all afresh once again, I invited my mother, frequent patron of sushi chains but rookie partaker of the higher art form, to join me on this adventure.



It’s no spoiler to reveal that the courses were served in pretty standard sequence. Your zensai, onmono, -insert number here- kinds of nigiri, etc. As expected, you can’t fault the cuts that come your way. It was almost déjà vu seeing a newcomer’s reaction to seared kinmedai exactly mirror mine years ago—sheer delight.

If anything, you’ll discover that each omakase takes its distinct style after the chef whom the restaurant bears its name. At risk of sounding like a painfully obvious statement, supplement it with this. Not only do chefs display skill taught by the particular regions they understudied at, all those years of influences both inside and outside the kitchen forms the type of menu they envision best to share with their guests.

Or as my life-giver so profoundly articulates, “It’s not like the sushi sushi.”


It’s always fun to be reintroduced to familiar dishes prepared in a different way. While not squeamish, my first acquaintance with shirako i.e. fish semen was less than impressive. Here at Suzuki, lightly scorched and bedded with spinach sauce, its texture was able to shine with the flavours.

Another unique dish was Chef Suzuki’s signature palate cleanser. Perhaps stemming from common childhood indoctrination to “eat your greens” or a personal penchant for a healthy diet, the unconventional maki of shiso and wasabi leaves with white radish wrapped in nori was simple and brilliant.

The Shizuoka-born chef, who moved to Kyoto at the age of 18 to train at three Michelin-starred Kikunoi, inherited a respect for simplicity from its owner and head chef. Lessons on focusing on the original character of ingredients and keeping seasonings to a minimum are principles he carried through his career up till the most recent stint as head chef at Ishi, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay.


Reflecting this regard for purity are the interiors. As you may be familiar, most of these esteemed establishments come in an intimate setting. It’s no different at Suzuki, save the thoughtful designs by renowned Tokyo-based architect Kengo Kuma, whose work here marks his debut in a commercial project in Singapore.


Daylight filtered through Kyoto bamboo weaved along the full-height glass allow for a relaxed seating than an otherwise dark and intimidating environment. This is matched with a petite courtyard garden centering the restaurant, complete with faux skylight overhead, which was a surprise to learn given how natural it looked.

The fountain within is made from a solid piece of Nagano stone, and the pebbles surrounding the kakehi water feature are collected from Gifu, allegedly millions of years old. The largest however, would be the 600kg ancient plinth from the same region that serves as the reception desk you see at the entrance. Statement piece indeed.

Of the private rooms encountered thus far, the one here is certainly a choice. As the chef’s backdrop from where guests face, bottom panelled glass discloses an odd, below-the-knee peek at diners inside. Hello, foot fetish. Still, the half scrim is made of washi paper, and every single piece of furnishing in the restaurant is either bespoke or handmade.

Cloth napkins embroidered in hiragana by celebrated Kyoto-based calligrapher Tomoko Kawao. Antique soup bowls and classic modern birch chairs Kuma first created for Tokyo’s Nezu Museum café. All these curated touchpoints together with quality Japanese cuisine make a nice rendezvous that any beginner can appreciate.

Suzuki is located at 83 Neil Road, #01-09 Mondrian Hotel Singapore.

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