Zento Contemporary Japanese Cuisine

DATE: 270310

Zento Contemporary Japanese Cuisine is located at Dempsey Hill. In the past Dempsey Hill was a nutmeg plantation that later became Tanglin Barracks, the Headquarters of the Far East British Forces. It was also the former headquarters of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) until 1989.

Today it is a food village featuring many restaurants like Au Petite Salut, Zento, CM-PB, Muthu’s Flavours and Jones the Grocer. It has cultivated a reputation of providing quality and expensive dining. However, some critics felt that the food there was just overpriced and overhyped.

Today together with my two other Moose, we made our way from the sardine-packed Orchard to the sort of ulu Dempsey Hill, were some of the roads reminded us of the rocky paths we were forced to high-kneel on during our NS days. As part of Restaurant Week, we had reserved 3 seats at Zento Contemporary Japanese Cuisine at the price of $35++ per pax for dinner. It was a fare that is very uncommon for people like us in terms of price and experience.

The service was impeccable. For the price, the service was definitely worth it. The staff greeted us and got us to our seats efficiently, they were well-mannered, friendly and professional in our perspective. Yew Ann requested for no tuna to be in his food and they heeded his request politely.

I like the interior of the restaurant. The old colonial roof structure can be seen and since there is not ceiling, an illusion of space was created, making the place feel spacious. The elements of the old colonial structure blended in nicely with the cool and sleek modern furnishing and décor that was adopted. Warm but rather dim lights created a warm, cosy ambience for the dining experience.

We started off our 3-course meal which was complemented by a cup of tea for the each of us (which was promptly re-filled without demand) with a Sashimi Salad for Vinleon and a New Style Sashimi for both Yew Ann and Me. Yew Ann described the sashimi as “heavenly” and “one of the best” to the extent that he savour each piece (there was only five pieces) slowly to fully comprehend the goodness contained within each mouthful. The sashimi was really good, the fish was very fresh and accompanying sauce is very refreshing and has a hint of sweetness and saltiness in it.

Vinleon also enjoyed his Sashimi Salad a lot too. The starters had started off the meal on a very high note, raising our expectations for the subsequent course.

For the Main Course, Yew Ann and Vinleon had the 2 Premium Sushi Rolls that was dictated in the special menu. There are 2 kinds of sushi. While Yew Ann enjoyed it a lot, Vinleon though enjoyed it at first got annoyed by the quality of the rice after savouring a few of the sushi. He felt that the rice wasn’t on par with Itacho’s rice quality and he felt that for the price of $35++ expected the rice to be very good or at least acceptable.

However, all of us felt that the sushi was quite generous with the fillings especially Yew Ann and me. I like how it was different from the usual sushi as especially how the roe burst with flavour when you popped the sushi into your mouth. Overall, the Premium Sushi Roll felt below expectation for Vinleon, Yew Ann and I was satisfied with sushi.

I had the Pan-Seared Salmon for the main. I found it alright, but not fantastic. Sweet with a bit of ginger-like taste, the mushrooms accompanying the dish was okay too. Nothing to rave about for the salmon, it was good but not fantastic.

Next, we proceed to the desserts. Vinleon and Yew Ann had the Tiramisu, they were very disappointed with the Tiramisu because it lacked the alcoholic kick (not enough liquor). The Tiramisu has a very strong taste of coffee. It felt it was average, and people who like coffee will appreciate this tiramisu more, people who favoured more liquor will be disappointed.

I had the Black and White Chocolate Cake. The sweet milk chocolate mousse coupled with the dark chocolate mousse conjured a bittersweet flavour that I quite enjoy. I am fine with the Black and White Cake, I thought it was nice.

End of the meal, Yew Ann and Vinleon were still feeling hungry, they felt that despite paying $35+ for the meal ($41.95 per pax after Service Charge and GST) wasn’t worth it because the portion was too little and the food wasn’t that great except for the starters. I was alright with the meal but I do find it a bit pricey. It will be a bit of hindering factor if I were to consider Zento again.

Overall, I felt that if you are to come to Zento, this is certainly not a place to fill your tummy or satisfy the glutton in you. I see it more of a place to seek a different kind of for experience in Japanese cuisine. It is refreshing to see new approaches to the Japanese cuisine.

At the end of the day, I can say I myself had enjoyed the New Style Sashimi a lot together with the good service and ambience and that’s it, a nice place to go for a different kind of dining experience but only when you have some cash to spare. It is sure pricey to dine here looking at the ala-carte menu.

18B Dempsey Road

Tel: +65 6474 0378

Opening hours



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