You wouldn’t know it from its current hospitality iteration, but sushi was originally meant to be a bite eaten while standing up in front of a mobile food stall. ‘People used to eat sushi standing up until the end of World War II, when they started eating them sitting on chairs,’ explained architect Daisuke Motogi of DDAA.

So, to reclaim the dish’s origin and to put the focus on the work of the chef, the DDAA team has decided to subvert the expected layout at a new members-only sushi location in Aoyama.

The divergence starts from the entrance itself: the shop sign on the backstreet is rather discreet, with a modest stoop basin at the end of a long, dark corridor. Inside the restaurant itself, as dimly lit as the corridor, the working hands of chef Yuji Yabe and some key pieces of art are put under the spotlight – literally. ‘The idea is for guest to immerse themselves in an experience where they savour expertly prepared sushi paired with superb sake, while appreciating contemporary art and the chef’s beautiful demeanor,’ explained Motogi.

That’s why, although the 34-sq-m venue would be small for some, this type of service strategy makes it work. With little more than a cut of high-gloss glass on top of a block of Oyaishi stone, used as a countertop, the design team achieved a commendable feat: beautifully mimicking the pure, minimally processed experience with pure, minimally processed materials.

The takeaway: Can a specific restaurant typology benefit from some offbeat historical research? Can the gastronomic experience in a traditional market be enhanced or revitalised by changing the seating options?