Tag Archives: Japanese

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.

Ezoca Japanese Cuisine @ Quayside Isle | NOW CLOSED

Set amidst the slew of swanky Spanish, European, Belgium and Mediterranean eateries along the beautiful Quayside Isle of Sentosa is a Japanese fine-dining Kaiseki restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Shinji Morihara- who boasts of more than 20 years of experience in Japanese cuisine, welded from acclaimed establishments such as Marriott Hotel Nagoya Japan, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and Fairmont Hotel Singapore.


Fitted with oriental touches of Japanese architecture with shōji doors, an extensive use of wood grain and imported Japanese red cedar for the furniture and a decidedly minimalist appeal, restaurant owner Katsutaka Kobayashi had gone though great lengths in reconstructing the 40-seater authentically Sukiya-style right down to the last detail for the discerning diner to enjoy a sensorial experience.


Bathed in soft ambient light, the intimate space glows with a cosy but classy appeal.


While the primary focus here is on Kaiseki cuisine, there are Omakase Sets from $175 and Set Lunches from $23. The recently introduced Ala-Carte menu also offers a few pocket-friendly alternatives.

Hinoki Japanese Dining @ China Square Central

Japanese fine dining takes on a whole new meaning at Hinoki Japanese Dining- a neat little restaurant tucked away discreetly in a conservation pre-war shop house along Nankin Row in China Square. Serving up ‘Kappo Ryori’, a style of Omakase that is lifted to the highest degree, this creative aspect of Japanese cuisine can only be conquered by experts and masters- who in this case, is Chef Santaro Li, the culinary maestro who has been honing his skills for the past 40 years.

Here at Hinoki, freshness of produce, showmanship and presentation are all key elements that Li-san take very seriously and you can expect a gastronomical experience when your meal is left in the creative hands of Li-san’s exquisite and refined palate. With the best seasonal ingredients air-flown directly from Tokyo’s renowned Tsukiji Market twice a week, premium and quality are only what you get with each course.


Every experience of ‘Kappo Ryori’ seeks to be different as it is an extremely fluid and customizable process, subject to your taste preferences together with Li-san’s inspirations and intuition.

We started with a trio of Zensai $15 and Li-san will advice you to start from the right to the left- where the light sweetness of the Shiraou (silver fish sashimi) bathed in Shoyu sauce delights and refreshes your palate with the first bite. Move on next to the Oyster with Mentaiko rustically presented in its shell and marvel when you taste the richness of the torched roe. I especially enjoyed this because I did not taste the oyster at all! And finally, the Century Egg Tofu with Tobiko brings an exciting end to the first course with the creamy pitan sauce beautifully balanced by the simply chilled tofu.


Indulge in the Mixed Sashimi Platter $55 which featured an immaculate selection of the finest cuts of Hamachi, Salmon, Toro Belly and Botan Ebi. Alternatively, go the other extreme with the Zakana Foie Gras $25- possibly my favorite and most heart-clogging that evening which seems almost impossible in Japanese cuisine.

Essentially a roll of grilled Hamachi cheek sandwiching a generous slab of pan-fried fatty goose liver and all wrapped snugly by an overlaying piece of seaweed sitting on a Sakura leaf and topped with truffle (refer to first photo), the plating of the Zakana Foie Gras impressed with its attention to detail especially with that carved lemon in the shape of a heart on the side. But the taste was truly the highlight and a harmonious melody of richness which enthralled.

GIVEAWAY | Sakae Sushi Presents New and Improved Menu, Now Available At All Outlets

This giveaway is now CLOSED!

The pioneer of the kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt) system of serving sushi which debuted in our country back in 1997, homegrown Japanese restaurant chain- Sakae Sushi has certainly come a long way since. Presently the largest sushi chain in Singapore with 40 outlets all over the island, the brand is definitely a household name in our local dining scene. I personally grew up identifying Sakae Sushi as the place for sushi and especially given their penchant for pocket-friendly prices, it was simply a huge draw factor for us poor students back in the day, who really wanted to eat Japanese cuisine.

Unfortunately, in a bid to try out all the new sushi restaurants that have been popping up everywhere in recent years, I have not stepped into Sakae Sushi for quite sometime now. So when I received a media invite informing me that Sakae Sushi had recently revamped its menu with more than 50 new dishes, it was the perfect excuse to make a trip down and find out how the Sakae Sushi has kept up with the times and if standards have remained competitive.


We began with three new Appetizer additions to their menu.

The Ika Okura $6.29 made up of chopped lightly seasoned lady fingers and squid, was a picture of green. I could not get past the slimy and sticky consistency of the dish contributed by the squid and was extremely hesitant to take a bite. But after it went one round around the table, and everyone took their share, some even went for seconds, I decided it could not be that bad. And frankly it was not.. It just tasted really healthy and fresh.


The Asari Miso $6.29 was much better received. Clams marinated with thick Miso paste, this was another cold dish and was finished in seconds.

Tamashii Robataya | A Unique Robatayaki Experience

While specialist Japanese dining concepts such as Teppanyaki, Yakiniku, Izakayas and Shabu-shabu are all relatively familiar to us, Robatayaki (shortened to Robata) is one that is still fairly fresh and novel in our local dining scene. But fear not of the unknown because Tamashii Robataya is a great place to initiate your inception to an authentic and unforgettable Robata experience.

Located at level 2 of The Offshore building along North Canal Road, the restaurant may only be 2 months old, but the chef and owner of this dining establishment is no lightweight. With 14 years of culinary experience in Japanese cuisine under his belt, working previously at Tatsuya and M Hotel, Chef Patrick Tan is sincere and passionate about his craft, desiring nothing more than to share his love for food by serving every individual customer with soul.


And while the Robata concept finds century-old roots in a fisherman’s town in Hokkaido and is hugely popular back home in Japan, many of us here in Singapore who enjoy Japanese cuisine probably may not have heard of it before…

For the uninitiated, the Robata style of dining sees diners seated around a U-shaped counter that partitions off the working space of the chefs by a mere foot long distance of counter space. This space is used to display a selection of gourmet vegetables, seafood and meats or more accurately put, the season’s finest produce shipped in that day.


Somewhat like an upscale seafood village/market place, customers need simply pick out the food they want and Patrick with his team of chefs will work their magic on the grill.


Alternatively, leave your meal in the hands of the chef with the Omakase option and you will not be disappointed. Tamashii Robataya offers $88, $128 and $168 dinner courses for those willing to splurge a little and very affordable set lunches with a price range of $16.80 – $25.80. All set lunches come complete with salmon sashimi, salad, rice and miso soup.

Love that vivid purple of the Ko Nasu (baby eggplants) on display…