On the rooftop of Zen, Shintori Art Cuisine is a Japanese-style tavern with branches in Shanghai, Taipei, and Beijing. The restaurant claims to be inspired by Japanese Zen Buddhism, so its décor and dish presentation emphasize simplicity and the importance of nature.
Zen is CentralWorld’s department store; Horizon is Zen’s eating and drinking complex occupying its top floors; and Shintori is Horizon’s Japanese restaurant, the latest branch of a franchise spanning Shanghai, Taipei, and Beijing.
The décor, inspired by Japanese Zen Buddhism, sees our very own Duangrit Bunnag channel his inner Tadao Ando. The result is grand but, despite the impressive scale and elevated views, the space feels more hangar than meditative sanctuary. Nor is this side of CentralWorld the most thrilling to look out from.
In the plates, the sophisticated presentation and fresh fish are let down by the menu’s landlubber options. So while the amuse bouche is a welcome fine-dining touch, its flavorless beef jelly is not so exciting. There’s a similar dish a la carte, the smoked beef (B490), which consists of a highly acidic ponzu jelly, with the same tough, tasteless, gray beef. Heaped with chopped onions, it’s not exactly subtle. Their chicken lacks flavor, too, such as in the over-compensated and over-seasoned fresh wasabi with chicken breast meat salad (B400).
But fish quality is generally on par with standalone restaurants, which isn’t a bad deal given the grand setting. Sashimi set A (B1,850 for 21 pieces/B790 for 9 pieces) contains excellent otoro (fatty tuna belly) and salmon belly, with the option of adding ark shell for B480. Most rolls, like the eel roll, are B250, while the uni roll fetches B600. As for sushi, otoro is B780, flounder B380 and uni B1,160. Cooked dishes, like the tender, fatty codfish steak (B650) are similarly satisfying.
Unlike your usual sushi joint, though, there’s a real effort on the dessert front, with inventive recipes like the tofu cheesecake (B280) alongside classics like the chocolate mousse (B280)—too bad they don’t really work. The drinks menu is as long as the food one, and while the sweet sake-based cocktails (B350) aren’t our cup of tea, they do fix classic drinks, such as a dry martini, very well. (You’re definitely better off drinking booze than the B130-plus-plus Evian they’ll start pouring if you simply order water.) Finally, the massive space isn’t helped by its lack of diners, save for a few Asian tourists. To appeal to locals, Shintori would either have to slash its prices, or its kitchen would have to prove it can do more than beautifully presented raw fish.