Time stands still in unique sushi restaurant

After working as a chef in Japan, Mads Battefeld returned home to Denmark with the dream of establishing an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant.

Assisted by the architect Anni Baun Danielsen, he has now realised his vision in the form of the exclusive restaurant Sushi Anaba in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district. The interior design is distinguished by its simple, raw look.

“Finally, Copenhagen has a sushi bar that could just as well be situated around the corner from the train station in Ginza, in a high-rise building in Roppongi, or where Tokyo’s three-star sushi bars might otherwise be found.”

So reads the introduction to the six-star food review that the Danish newspaper Berlingske published about the newly opened sushi restaurant Sushi Anaba in 2019. The dream of creating an original sushi restaurant along the lines of an authentic Japanese eatery was born when the restaurant’s owner and head chef Mads Battefeld worked as a cook at a Japanese sushi bar.

“The Japanese eat out a lot, and minimalism permeates both their architecture and their food culture. The cooking is rigidly controlled, and focuses on using only a few ingredients, and this approach is reflected in the architecture,” says the architect Anni Baun Danielsen MAA from BAUNarkitektur, who helped Mads Battefeld design his Sushi Anaba restaurant in Copenhagen.

And it was far from easy. Because how do you turn a raw, concrete, 95-square-metre commercial space into an oasis of Japanese food culture?

“Like the Japanese restaurants, which are often hidden slightly out of the way in an apartment block, the space is located in a neighbourhood in the new Nordhavn district. The dimensions were fixed, and we were unable to decide the size of the rooms ourselves,” says Anni Baun Danielsen.

Chef centre stage

To ensure as simple a look as possible, Anni and Mads decided to leave the existing raw concrete walls as they were – albeit with some surface treatment.

“The restaurant can only seat eight guests at a time. You sit at a table next to your companion, rather than opposite one another. The chef works on the other side of the table, but at a slightly lower level than the guests, so they can watch how the food is being prepared while it provides a good working height for the chef. The preparation of the food thus becomes part of the experience where the chef is centre stage,” says Anni Baun Danielsen.

Considerable effort also went into the interior design. Everything has been specially made by a cabinetmaker for the restaurant, with the warm hues of the furniture contrasting beautifully with the raw concrete walls.

Time stands still

It almost goes without saying that, as with the rest of the interior and the food, a lot of thought has also been devoted to the acoustics at Sushi Anaba.

“Mads insisted that the ambience should be calm both visually and acoustically. Stepping into the restaurant, guests leave the hustle and bustle of the street behind them, and there needs to be a peaceful atmosphere,” says Anni Baun Danielsen.

The solution was a ceiling with black-painted Troldtekt line acoustic panels, which are part of Troldtekt’s award-winning design series.

“We’re extremely happy with the choice of black. It lends an air of incomparable calm and contributes to the simple look. And on stepping inside, it’s as though time stands still. You can’t hear what’s happening outside, and you’re able to focus completely on what is taking place in front of you,” says the architect.

Sound can influence a meal

Anni Baun Danielsen believes that, in general, too little attention is paid to combining good acoustics and stylish design in modern restaurants.

“The trend in Danish restaurants is to have a lot of raw, hard surfaces, and exposed MEP installations in the ceilings are also a popular feature. It’s arrived from abroad, and originally was probably a way of minimising costs with this raw, industrial New Yorker warehouse interior. However, it makes for lousy acoustics if you don’t do something about it,” she says.

“I really like using Troldtekt, because there is such a wide choice of products. You can choose between sharp and straight edges to create a coherent ceiling surface. Ceiling surfaces with many visible joins – which were everywhere in the 1970s – have a slightly unsettling effect, and remove focus from the other surfaces,” she says.

Anni Baun Danielsen, architect from BAUNarkitektur.

Facts: Sushi Anaba

Project: Restaurant Sushi Anaba in Coopenhagen
Architects: BAUNarkitektur with Stokholm Normark and Studio Ane Lykke (Interior design)
Client: Sushi Anaba

Troldtekt products: 

Ceiling panels: Troldtekt line acoustic panels
Colour: Black 207
Structure: Ultrafine (1.0 mm wood wool)

>> Read more about Sushi Anaba in the Troldtekt reference section