Japanese move into The Pen

Janine Stein

NEW restaurant Imasa has crept into the food scene so quietly you could hear a noodle drop. The hypeless launch is even more surprising because the Japanese restaurant is in hotel - The Peninsula - and hotels are not renowned for being publicity shy. In contrast to the high profile opening of Felix; The Pen opted instead for elegant restraint, which has made Imasa one of the town's better kept secrets.

The restaurant, on the first floor next to Spring Moon, has been open since April and serves traditional Japanese food without promotional bells and whistles. For all the tradition of the food, Imasa's decor follows a different path. The modern interior is done by Japanese designer, Yoshiharu Ishii, who spent 20 years in Paris.

Foodwise, the emphasis is on simplicity and quality. Instead of a sushi bar, a wagon bearing ingredients is wheeled out and the sushi prepared at individual tables. The menu also features ishiyaki (beef, seafood or vegetables cooked on a hot stone) .

Prices are predictably high. Set lunches range from $300 to $370 per person.