opening new doors

At The Newly-Opened Sushi Kou, Expect To See The Former Head Chef Of Michelin-starred Shoukouwa

We tell you everything you need to know about Sapporo native Chef Yoshio Sakuta, and the latest omakase sushi establishment in town.

At The Newly-Opened Sushi Kou, Expect To See The Former Head Chef Of Michelin-starred Shoukouwa
Chef Yoshio SakutaSushi Kou

Here’s a new restaurant to add to your post-circuit breaker to-eat list: Sushi Kou, an intimate eight-seat spot, is now open for in-person lunch and dinner.

Located on the ground floor of the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, Sushi Kou serves produce sourced from Toyosu Market in Tokyo and elevates the preparation and consumption of Edo-style sushi to an exquisite experience akin to performance art. The two omakase menus are the Aya, with three appetiser-style dishes and 10 pieces of sushi, and the Kou, which offers five dishes and 10 pieces of sushi.

The brilliant mind behind Sushi Kou is Head Chef Yoshio Sakuta, a 20-year veteran who was formerly head chef of the two-Michelin-starred Shoukouwa. Here’s what he has to say about his latest venture.

Why did you decide it was time to move and lead a different restaurant?

I was able to identify with the vision at Sushi Kou to create the best sushi for sushi lovers. A genuine passion project unhindered by overhead costs, Sushi Kou presented me with a rare opportunity to showcase my skills to its full potential.

My personal goal remains the same: It is simply to impart happiness to customers who walk through the doors of Sushi Kou and leave satisfied.

Delicious food brings people together regardless of race, religion or nationality, and I think this joy and happiness derived from the concept of food is simply amazing. I would like you to be happy and enjoy Sushi Kou’s delicious food without worrying about how to eat at the restaurant.

Edo-style sushi of Japanese tiger prawnSushi Kou

How was the process of setting up Sushi Kou, and what were the biggest challenges for you?

The process of setting up Sushi Kou, from location to furnishing, and the details went very smoothly at the start and we were all excited to open!

However, though we were slated to open earlier in April this year, our official launch had to be delayed until June due to Covid-19. But this gave me more time to concentrate on my personal training, preparing for when the circuit breaker ends. Off to a challenging start, we had to adapt to the situation by delaying our grand opening, while offering bento delivery and our takeaway menu for a start. Although we hope to serve our dishes at their freshest and best condition during dine-in, our takeaway and delivery alternative was the next best option in adapting to these unprecedented times.

During such a time, it was also difficult to source for the best produce, especially so when relying solely on the condition of Japan’s fish markets, which can be prone to natural calamities, trade restrictions and so on. 

  • Chef Yoshio SakutaSushi Kou
  • Steamed abaloneSushi Kou

What is your culinary direction for Sushi Kou, and why is sustainable sourcing of seafood important to you and to diners? 

If it could be described in three words, my culinary direction for Sushi Kou would be:

  • Simple: Both food and restaurant aesthetic exude minimalistic grace and confidence.
  • Perfect: The details matter at Sushi Kou, right down to the precise handling of the temperature of ingredients.
  • Moving (or happiness): Sushi Kou is ultimately our soulful approach at connecting personally with diners through a gastronomic artform that has to be experienced to be felt. We hope to impart happiness to all our customers and have them leave satisfied.

I began my journey as a chef at the age of 18 at Ganko Sushi Atsubetsu, Sapporo. The handling of premium and exquisite fish piqued my interest greatly, and I then went on to gain experience in speciality sushi restaurants such as Sushi Negishi, where I started my foray into Japanese omakase-style cuisine, and the then two-Michelin-starred Sushizen in Sapporo. In 2017, I was headhunted to helm Shoukouwa Sushi Restaurant in Singapore, helping to maintain the restaurant’s second consecutive year in clinching the coveted two Michelin stars in 2019 as the only sushi restaurant in Singapore.

As a chef who relies on and harnesses the unmistakable quality of Earth’s bountiful produce, it is imperative that the responsibility lies with me to source responsibly so that future generations will be able to continue to delight in these same joys that we get today. Diners too should be concerned about sustainable sourcing, because as they say, “You are what you eat”. 

  • Sushi KouSushi Kou
  • Sushi KouSushi Kou

How frequently are the Aya and Kou menus updated — or are the menus entirely dictated by the produce that is in season?

The current menu will continue to be a mainstay at Sushi Kou for some time while we establish ourselves among our customers. However, we will definitely introduce new items depending on seasonality and availability. 

When you dine out in your free time, what types of cuisine and which places do you favour?

A childhood comfort food I still constantly crave is Sapporo ramen. I grew up in Sapporo, Hokkaido, which is renowned for ramen with rich and heart-warming miso-based broths.

#01-13/14 Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, 11 Cavenagh Road, Singapore 229616; Tel: 6235 5670 or 8591 1933

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