Satoyama in Singapore: Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa recreates his forest-focused cuisine here

Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa (left) with cuisine such as the Bread Of The Forest (top) and Sumi – beef rump covered with powdered chargrilled leek. PHOTOS: NARISAWA

SINGAPORE – Tokyo chef Yoshihiro Narisawa of two-Michelin-starred Narisawa will go foraging in Singapore. And the ingredients he finds will be worked into his menu for a five-week residency at the Mandala Club.

The 53-year-old is known for what he calls “innovative Satoyama” cuisine, cooking sustainably and respecting nature the way people living in rural villages near the mountains do, but with fine-dining finesse. From March 24 to April 30, he will bring Satoyama to Singapore, at the club in Bukit Pasoh Road.

Diners lucky enough to score seats will get to see and taste what he unearths.

Speaking to The Straits Times from Tokyo through an interpreter, he says: “I don’t have a set list of ingredients yet. But I will be here a week before the residency and hope to go search for ingredients in the jungle.

“I’m excited to discover new and local ingredients, and I hope to create something out of them.”

Some of his finds might end up in one of the signature courses, Satoyama Scenery, which recreates the forest on a platter. Other planned local twists include his signature Bread Of The Forest course, with bread dough rising while warmed by candlelight, then baked in a stone pot. He plans to work in tropical fruit such as mango, pineapple and lychee.

The chef, who used to visit Singapore often, says he is also thinking of using banana leaves in his cooking here, and Chinese cooking techniques such as those for roasting Peking duck and making crispy-skinned pork.

He has another surprise up his sleeve for frequent Narisawa guests – instead of the signature beef main course, he is looking to offer either pork or pigeon.

And because the residency falls during sakura season in Japan, he will incorporate cherry blossoms into the menu too.

One course that will not be on the menu is Soil Soup, made with burdock roots, water and soil he gets from a farmer who grows pesticide-free vegetables.

He says: “There is a season for the soup and we use soil only in the wintertime, in January and February.”

Lunch from Wednesdays to Fridays is priced at $518++ a person for non-alcohol or tea pairing, and $598++ for sake and wine pairing or wine pairing. Lunch on Saturdays and Sundays and dinner from Wednesdays to Sundays are priced at $748++ a person for non-alcohol or tea pairing, and $848++ for sake and wine pairing or wine pairing.

There are 24 seats for each meal service in the Mandala Club’s main dining room, with up to 12 seats available for the private room. Bookings can be made on

Satoyama Scenery, a representation of Satoyama culture that developed in the rural villages in the foothills of Japanese mountains. PHOTO: NARISAWA

Chef Narisawa, whose father and uncle ran a bakery and tea salon, trained in France, Switzerland and Italy with, among others, iconic French chefs Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon. He had a restaurant in Kanagawa prefecture before opening Les Creations De Narisawa in 2003. The restaurant, renamed Narisawa in 2011, celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023.

His entire team will be in Singapore while the restaurant in Aoyama is being renovated.

“Most of the work will be done on the kitchen, which has remained the same for 20 years,” he says of the renovations.

During the thick of the pandemic, the chef maintained his relationships with the farmers who grow produce for the restaurant, by using the bounty in bento boxes which people could order.

Asked what he thinks diners are looking for in the wake of Covid-19, he says: “I think guests expect fine-dining food to taste genuinely good, rather than surprising, new and crazy. And they don’t want to travel that far to get good food.”

The club, which brings in renowned chefs for its Mandala Masters programme, has so far featured Gaggan Anand from Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand; Mauro Colagreco from Mirazur in Menton, France; and Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon from Central in Lima, Peru.

Mr Zaran Vachha, managing director of the programme, says there are two to three major residencies in the pipeline. He believes they are still relevant in a post-pandemic world, despite the fact that most travel restrictions have been lifted.

He adds: “Not everyone can travel, so we wanted to bring these exceptional experiences to people’s doorsteps. We’re not carbon-copying the experiences in their own cities. We work very closely with the chefs to change the menu so it’s a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience which will never be repeated.”

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