Shinzo Japanese Cuisine by Chef Lawrence Chia

Former co-owner of Hinoki Japanese Dining– Chef Lawrence Chia has gone solo with his newest venture- Shinzo Japanese Cuisine at 17 Carpenter Street. While the entrance to the restaurant is unassuming and somewhat dodgy-looking, the mood and feeling changes the moment you open the doors. From the cheery voices of the chefs behind the counters that greet you, to the attentive waitresses that are prompt to serve you, it is hard not to feel welcome or even come in unnoticed especially when the space is so intimate and cosy. Barely seating 20 around the counter, dining at Shinzo is an interactive and welcoming experience where Chef Lawrence plays host, chef and entertainer to his guests.


We came on a weekday evening for dinner and while the seats were initially empty, they were quickly filled up as the night went on. Judging from the friendly banter exchanged between Chef Lawrence and his customers, and the numerous toasts of sake and red wine throughout the evening, it was obvious that these diners were not here for the first time. Chef Lawrence explains that the atmosphere here at Shinzo is convival and set such that everyone feels at home, enjoys good food and leaves feeling happy, which is why customers return time and time again- some loyal ones who had even followed him from Hinoki. The word ‘Shinzo’ does after all, mean ‘heart’ in the Japanese language.


Shinzo offers lunch sets for executives from $38++ onwards, while those who have a bit more time to spare during dinner, can choose from his omakase courses which start at $138++.

Our $168++ omakase dinner was made up of 8 courses- appetizer, starter, sashimi, seasonal item, steamed, sushi, soup and dessert. The idea is to let Chef Lawrence know your budget and taste preferences so that he can tailor a menu just for you.

We started with a Tomato from the Ehime region of Japan, reputed for its freshness and sweetness.


The next were two appetizers- Deep-fried Ebi with wasabi mayo and Uni Tofu, daintily presented in a birdcage-like holder. Served chilled, the latter was an interesting use of uni (sea urchin) which added a creamy and nutty texture to the otherwise smooth and plain tofu.


Next, we were served the Toro Tataki for our starter. Lightly seared for a hint of smokiness, the flavour of the tuna belly was rich and fatty, with a hint of sirloin feeling while the topping of miso accentuated the sweetness and marbling of the meat.


Chef Lawrence made an additional course of Mentaiko Bamboo Clams for me because I have a certain threshold when it comes to raw food. And though many tell me I am missing out in life for not being able to appreciate sashimi, this replacement course had me regretting nothing. Bouncy and sweet, the clams were beautifully blanketed by a layer of spicy cod roe and mayonnaise that was both savoury and briny- simply umami!


Chef’s Seasonal Selection followed after, with some Herring Fish Roe, Hamachi and Baby Abalone.


A seasonal item, the Squid with Roe was one of our favourites of the evening with its tender but firm flesh and soft creamy thick roe. Stewed in homemade sauce, the richness was intensified and overall, very enjoyable.


Finally, we were treated to an Assorted Platter of Nigiri Sushi each. Made up of Hamachi, Sea Eel, Flounder Fin, Scallop and Uni, the latter won the most praises. Not surprising because Chef Lawrence uses uni directly imported from Hokkaido- a specific class that is recognized as a delicacy and luxury ingredient and after having a taste of it, we could understand why. I personally fancied the Scallop one for its sweetness and spicy roe mayo topping.


The Tuna Consommé was the last of our savoury dishes for the night. Not to be mistaken as Whisky, as Chef cheekily almost had us fooled by serving it in a shot glass, the broth is in fact a brew of tuna stock, leek, carrots and seasonal vegetables that has been simmering for 4 hours- the optimum time to bring out its full flavour without being too salty. However, we say that as delectable as the concoction may be, you might wanna hold back on the ‘bottoms-up’ and sip it slowly because it is piping hot!


Dessert was an ice-cream trio of classically Japanese flavours- Matcha, Yuzu and Kurogoma.


And something exciting to share! Starting from 1st April 2014, Shinzo Japanese Cuisine will be offering a special Early Bird Omakase dining experience where diners can enjoy an Omakase Set Dinner at $68 instead of the usual price of $150. Diners enjoying this promotion must however end their meal before 7.30pm. Service starts from 6pm onwards.

For all you Omakase fans out there on a budget, this is a definite steal and a promotion you must not miss!

Thank you Chef Lawrence and Amanda for being such incredible hosts!


17 Carpenter St, #01-01
Clarke Quay, Singapore 059906
Phone: +65 6438 2921

Opening hrs:
Monday – Saturday
12 – 3PM
6 – 10.30PM


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