The new restaurant, slated to open next month on July 15, is an independent business run by Japanese chef Shun Sato, formerly of Fukuro, Ho Lee Fook, Belon and Armani / Aqua in Hong Kong, whose experience also extends to establishments in London and Sydney and to his colleague Fukuro and Ho Lee Fook alum Keaton Lai as Managing Director.
Founder and Chef Shun Sato (right) with Managing Director Keaton Lai (left)
Censu, the Japanese word for a folding fan, is named after the senses. From the basics of smell, taste, touch, sound and sight to the sense of craftsmanship, fashion, music and restaurant design, and ultimately, a sense of belonging. This is where the relationship between people and the restaurant can be seen in the marks left on tables and chairs as traces of their experience; a nod to the wabi-sabi philosophy of finding beauty in imperfections and frayed edges.
The design of the 40-seat room is inspired by Sato’s grandmother’s house in the regional town of Sendai and this is where his idea for a wabi-sabi aesthetic came from, but it has a modern orientation. thanks to the Japanese interior design firm Jamo Associates with the direction of Shigenobu Yamaoka, artistic director of hip Tokyo Hotel, Trunk (Hotel). Here, traditional sakan plaster lines the walls with rustic charm, while a large unpolished walnut table in the center of the restaurant, open kitchen, and natural pine add warmth and a homely feel.
The food – which was originally presented to Ki No Bi’s pop-up at Sake Central last spring – is influenced by the traditional izakaya-style cuisine of Sato’s father, but Censu himself is not an izakaya and has a more food-oriented and delicately refined menu with dishes such as ika somen dish from Squid White Kimuchi ($ 148) which pairs finely sliced raw squid with green apple and daikon fermented white kimchi, and the ever popular Unigiri ($ 238) which includes a grilled onigiri topped with fresh sea urchins served in a dashi abalone. The food menu will alternate a series of specials to present the best of the season.
Drinks at Censu are easy going with a signature Lemon Sour Highball ($ 108) using barley-based Mugi Shochu and Ramune (the fun soda with a ball in the bottle) with a hint of lemon, as well as natural wines, and a curated premium sake selection by Keaton Lai.
Census is located at 28-30 Gough Street in Central.
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