SINGAPORE - If you've always privately grumbled at escalating ERP rates and the woes of parking in the financial district for getting between you and your regular Shinji fix, there's good news yet.
Michelin-starred sushi chef Shinji Kanesaka's second outlet in Singapore will be relocating from its current premises in the OUE Tower in Collyer Quay to The St Regis Singapore along Tanglin Road early next year. Operations at its original Raffles Hotel branch will remain unaffected.
According to chef Kanesaka's Singapore partner and the restaurant's managing director, Joni Ong, Shinji by Kanesaka's eight-seater sushi bar within the Tunglok Group's Tong Le Private Dining restaurant will most likely shut just before Chinese New Year. It will then resurface in St Regis in the first quarter of 2014.
The new Shinji by Kanesaka will take over a 1,360 sq ft space that was previously the hotel's Vintage Room and The Decanter bars. It will seat 16 along a main sushi counter, with a private sushi counter for eight.
An additional six-seater sake bar by the restaurant's entrance will showcase premium sakes as well as traditional Japanese tea-making ceremonies.
"Diners at Shinji often say that the best experience is at the counter. It is fun, interactive and people really enjoy sitting there," explains Ms Ong of the decision to move to a larger space. "With only eight seats at OUE Tower, we've often had to turn away customers who wanted counter seats," she says.
Furthermore, Shinji's three-year-old first outlet within the Raffles Hotel and its OUE outlet are in close proximity and currently target the same corporate crowd, while the new location at St Regis would better cater to residents in the Orchard, Tanglin and Bukit Timah neighbourhoods.
"We've always had customers asking why we don't have a presence at Orchard Road," Ms Ong adds. Still, she admits that the move was "a difficult decision".
She explains: "We've enjoyed working with the Tunglok Group and we mulled for months over how to continue the partnership. But due to manpower constraints and in order to keep up our standards, we want to limit the number of Shinji restaurants in Singapore to two, hence our inability to continue operating at OUE Tower." Tong Le Private Dining will operate as usual beyond the move.
Prices at Shinji at the St Regis will be similar to those at Raffles Hotel - sushi lunch sets start from $125 and omakase dinner sets from $300 - and Shinji's kitchen team at OUE Tower led by Japanese chef Kikuchi Shunsuke will be transferred to the St Regis branch.
Interior-wise, expect Shinji's trademark sophisticated minimalism featuring organic wood panels and Hinoki wood counters flown in directly from Japan - but with a slight twist.
Chef Kanesaka's trusted designer, Junzo Irikado, has already seen and approved of the new space, Ms Ong says, and the team is "waiting to be surprised by him".
"We trust that he will come up with something quite unique while still retaining the traditional elements of an Edomae-style sushi restaurant.
"What we will not see is an exact replica of Shinji at Raffles Hotel," she states.
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