Japanese dining for me used to mean ordering a few of my favorite dishes, comforting and always safe. It was only recently that I started to go the 'omasake' route, leaving the selection of food items to the chef, trusting him to be innovative and surprising me with his best creations. With this mindset, I set out to Shinzo Japanese Cuisine, a restaurant located along Carpenter Street near Clarke Quay, drooling in anticipation of what deliciousness Chef Lawrence Chia has in store for me.
Chef Lawrence started training at the tender age of 19 under the famous Chef Yoshio Nogawa at the renowned Sushi Kaiseki Nogawa, before moving on to helm the sushi counters of Hinoki, Tatsuya and Tatsu. After spending more than 23 years honing his skills as a sushi artisan and being much acclaimed for his fine sashimi-cutting techniques, premium sushi as well as classical and contemporary Japanese cuisine, he finally opened a place of his own - Shinzo - in September 2013. I'm sure his loyal supporters he has garnered over the years are all very happy at this venture.
By the way, Chef Lawrence's elder brother is none other than celebrity Chef Ronnie Chia of the well-known Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant at Goodwood Park Hotel. Talent sure runs in the family!
'Shinzo' means 'heart' in the Japanese language and it is with love and passion that Chef Lawrence puts his heart into this cozy eatery. The best seats are undeniably at the counter, where we can have a close look at Chef Lawrence and his team preparing our omakase meal using only the season's best ingredients sourced directly from Japan.
A variety of bento takeaways and lunch sets are available from $25++ and $38++ onwards, and omakase course dinner starts at $138++. The omakase set which we've enjoyed is priced at $168++, and included appetizers, starter, sashimi, seasonal item, steamed item, sushi, soup and dessert.
Chef Lawrence whetted our appetite with some sweet Chilled Tomato from the Ehime region in Japan, before presenting to us the duo appetizers of crispy Deep-fried Ebi with wasabi mayonnaise dressing and Uni Tofu in a lovely lacquered birdcage-like holder. The sea urchin lends a subtle sweetness to the silky smooth beancurd, making it a very beautiful combination!
Toro Tataki, slices of lightly seared tuna belly topped topped with sweet miso sauce and finely diced onions soon followed for my dining companions. As I'm more comfortable with my food cooked, my starter was replaced with a highly delectable Bamboo Clams topped with a layer of luscious spicy cod roe mayonnaise.
Nothing but freshness is to be expected of the Chef's Seasonal Selection of Herring Fish Roe, Hamachi and Baby Abalone. I personally loved the little cube of Herring Fish Roe who went 'popping' inside my mouth with each chew and was immensely fascinated with the Stewed Squid, which we had the fortune to taste it in season when it comes with soft, creamy roe within. Perfectly cooked to a tender and bouncy texture and complemented with a savory homemade sauce, the squid was one of my favorites for the evening.
Equally gratifying was the Kabura Turnip, steamed to melt-in-mouth softness and bursting with umami joy in the clear yet flavorful broth. Slices of pan-fried duck meat and foie gras gave the simple root vegetable dish a luxurious touch, heightening the pleasure of this ambrosial delight.
As the evening progressed, the dishes got better and better. The Assorted Nigiri Sushi featured generous cut of Hamachi, Sea Eel, Flounder Fin, Scallop and Uni (Sea Urchin) over vinegared sushi rice. All were good but the rich and creamy sweetness of the sea urchin directly imported from Hokkaido was the most memorable.
Chef Lawrence lastly surprised us with Tuna Consommé served in a shot glass, quite a refreshing change from the expected usual miso or clam soup. The concoction of tuna, leek, carrots and seasonal vegetables was simmered for long hours to extract its maximum flavor and purified till a clear broth is achieved. Each sip was a warm glide down the throat, putting me in total bliss.
Our sumptuous omakase experience ending with a trio of Yuzu Sorbet, Green Tea and Black Sesame Ice Cream.
Shinzo Japanese Cuisine is currently offering a Early Bird Omakase dining experience where diners can enjoy an omakase set dinner from 6pm to 7.30pm at a special price of only $68++.
For an all out premium sushi indulgence, Chef Lawrence has created a 20-course The Obama Special ($185++), inspired by US president Obama's recent visit to the legendary Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo. There's also the affordable Saturday Special where any order of 4 lunch set goes for the price of 3.
Given the high quality of food at Shinzo, these are promotions which you definitely wouldn't want to miss.
Shinzo Japanese Cuisine
Address: 17 Carpenter Street, Singapore 059906
Contact: +65 64382921
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat Lunch 12pm-3pm. Dinner 6.30pm-10.30pm / Closed on Sun
Prices are subject to prevailing service charge and GST.