Saturday, March 17, 2018

Le Binchotan @ Amoy Street - Revitalised With Dishes Using French Techniques And Centuries-old Japanese Grilling over Binchotan


One and a half years on from opening, Le Binchotan continues to burn stilly, yet fiery at the back lane of Amoy Street. Keeping the fire blazing is the passion towards creating dishes by weaving French techniques with age-old method of Japanese grilling over white charcoal. Newly minted Chef-Owner Jeremmy has refreshed the menu recently, with new dishes to showcase the compelling qualities of the highly prized binchotan.

Uni and Caviar 3/5

At the first glance, Uni and Caviar ($25) looks like an uni chawanmushi but the bottom layer turns out to be corn mousse. And just when you thought those are ikura atop, are actually Shoyu pearls. The wild-caught bafun uni is simply a treat of scoop of savoury ice cream. I do find it slightly too rich towards the end hence best to savour it real slowly.

Binchotan Burnt Aubergine 3.8/5

Burnt on binchotan, I really like this Binchotan Burnt Aubergine ($12) for the smoky overtone that the chilled aubergine flesh carries, which is more pronounced under the tangy yoghurt & white sesame dressing. For sceptics out there who are wary of aubergine's soggy texture, this remains firm with a bite and the addition of the deep fried wild rice grains up the enjoyment factor.

Edible Charcoal 2.8/5

The Edible Charcoal ($23) with garlic yogurt looks just as enigmatic as the space itself, and what's notable is how they eventually get serve onto your plate. Wrapped within the charcoal skin is pulled short ribs, that has been slow-cooked in saikyo miso (a sweet mild miso) and port wine for 16 hours. To ensure the filling is juicy even after deep frying, the braising liquid is further reduced and frozen, then wrapped together with the pulled meat. The rolled spring roll is brushed in an egg wash and then coated in fine bamboo charcoal, before being deep fried in a deep frying vessel specially set aside for this dish. Though what resulted is an undeniably luscious meat filling, I do find it somewhat a little too rich and greasy, hence the garlic yogurt dip became a welcoming cooling respite.

Little Neck Clams 4/5

My favourite dish of the night is this Little Neck Clams ($20). It effuses a mellow sweet aroma, resulted from simmering clams in the sake, which at the same time adds a depth to the flavour of the broth. Stirring in the Vichyssoise settled underneath (a French thick soup made sauteed leeks, boiled potatoes and a little cream) the clear broth now inherits a body that boosts its mouthfill and taste.

Char-Pork Jowl 3/5

Char-Pork Jowl ($35) comes hearty with a slab of nagaimo (Chinese Yam) 'hashbrown' and Japanese curry. Confit in duck fat and whole garlic at 140 degrees celsius for 3 to 5 hours, then grilled on binchotan. What results is an moist core with a slight crisp exterior. As much as I like the fatty meat underneath the charred exterior, the porky taste on the surface was a little overwhelming. The nagaimo, on the other hand, delights me like a good sliced apple tart!

Braised Beef Cheeks 3.5/5

Braised Beef Cheeks ($27) is one of the reasons why you should make your way down for your lunch. Only available during lunch hour, this flavour-packed Molasses Sugar Australian beef cheeks fell apart at ease at I suck my teeth into it. The nashi pear strips has a bit of lemon juice to cut away some of the richness of the meat, and the starchy Vichyssoise soaks up all the wonderful juices from the meat, leaving nothing to waste.

Sakura Ebi Cappellini 3/5

Sakura Ebi Cappellini ($27) has somehow become as classic as Hongkong shrimp roe noodles. Cappellini tossed with tiny umami-laden Sakura Ebi pulps and Shio Kombu, relatively less fancy than the rest but still yet high on satisfaction level, especially on days when you are craving for carbs.

Mushroom Risotto 3/5

Without dairy, yet the Mushroom Risotto ($29) here delivers similar creamy texture akin to a cream or cheese laden risotto. The trick is to slow cook the rice to release its starch to create that desirable creamy consistency. The garlic chips releases punch of flavours in every mouthful of the pulpy rice.

Smoked Chocolate 4/5

The dish that sticks in my mind that night and lingers till now, is actually the dessert - Smoked Chocolate ($15). 64% dark chocolate from Valrhona is cold-smoked with apple wood, then melted with butter before being mixed into a cake batter. Left in a smoke-filled airtight container until served, the slab of cake is permeated inside out with that unique smokiness from apple wood. Distinct yet elusive, every bite of the cake intrigues my senses.

Matcha Lover 3.5/5

If the Smoked Chocolate is a dark knight, Matcha Lover ($17) is probably the fair lady. White chocolate is infused with matcha powder and mould into an apple with redbean inside. The red bean ice cream is made in-house with an egg-yolk base, which is light on the palate.

Rice 'Tea'

Complete the experience with craft cocktails that carry the same spirit as its dishes, such as the signature dark and smokey Le Binchotan, or perhaps just a plain Rice 'Tea', fragrant with hint of Genmaicha. Just like this cocktail of my choice, the dishes that stand out for me are those that are simple, yet packed with taste nuances released by binchotan.

Words and photos by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food. Note: This is an invited tasting.

Le Binchotan
115 Amoy Street
Singapore 069935
(entrance via Gemmill Lane)
Tel: +65 62241045
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer (DT Line), Tanjong Pagar (EW Line)

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 1130am - 3pm, 6pm - 12midnight
Sat: 6pm - 11pm
(Closed on Sun)

1) Alight at Telok Ayer MRT station. Take Exit A. Turn left and walk down Cross Street towards Amoy Street. Turn left onto Amoy Street. Take the side lane beside the shop house and walk to the back. Walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]

2)  Alight at Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Take Exit G. Follow the covered walkway to the junction of Mccallum Street, Telok Ayer and Amoy Street. Turn left at the junction onto Amoy Street. Continue on Amoy Street to the end of the road. Take the side lane beside lane at the end of Amoy Street to the back. Walk to destination. Journey time about 12 minutes. [Map]

Thursday, March 15, 2018

FOC PIM PAM @ Orchard Road - Reignite My Love For Spanish Cuisine


Stepping into FOC PIM PAM at Orchard Road, located just beside Orchard Hotel, it reminds me of the numerous Spanish bodegas that is found along the streets of Spain. The revamped restaurant now features a Tapas Bar, Main Dining Room, Private Room, Bar and Terrace.

Cherry Gazpacho 4.8/5

We started at the Tapas Bar for some drinks and tapas. The Cherry Gazpacho ($6 tapas menu) is a welcoming starter that is served chilled. The cherry gazpacho soup is poured into a bowl which sits a smoked olive oil ice cream. It is a very refreshing combination that will whets one appetite.

Bread with Tomatoes 4.2/5

The Bread with Tomatoes ($6 tapas menu) brought back memories of my recent trip to Spain. I had this almost everyday for breakfast when I was in Spain. I am glad to know that FOC PIM PAM is serving it. The homemade toasted cristal bread is spread with grated tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil. I can also taste a hint of sea salt that perks up the flavour.

Iberico Cold Cuts Platter 4.2/5

Perfect to go with a drink or two is the Iberico Cold Cuts Platter ($13 half/ $24 full tapas menu). Our platter consists of Pork Loin 'Lomo', 'Salchichon' sausage, Chorizo and bread sticks.

FOC Tomato Tartare 4.5/5

You can call the FOC Tomato Tartare ($19) a vegetarian tartare as it consists of a medley of confit tomatoes, chopped Morrocan caper berries, mustard mayonnaise, pickles, shallots and salt. It is then topped with a tomato ice cream. Having it alone can be quite sourish. So it is recommend to go with the tomato ice cream for a more balanced appreciation.

FOC Pig Tripe Stew 4/5

A hearty and comforting dish on the menu is the FOC Pig Tripe Stew ($12). The beef tripe, pig ears, trotters, cheek, head skin and pork belly are chopped into small pieces, and cooked with white wine and sofrito. Chorizo and chickpeas are also added. This is served together with housemade sun-dried tomato and sweet paprika foccacia.

Espinaler Premium Cockles 4/5

Espinaler Cuttle Fish in Olive Oil 4.2/5

An unusual item on the menu is canned food. FOC has imported premium canned food such as the Espinaler Premium Cockles ($28 115g) and  Espinaler Cuttle Fish in Olive Oil ($15.50 115g). It felts a bit weird to be served canned food in a restaurant and furthermore the price is not cheap. I am not sure whether this will work in Singapore. Saying that, the preserved cockles and cuttle fish turns out pretty tasty.

Los Peperetes Goose Barnacles 4/5

Currently not on the menu is the Los Peperetes Goose Barnacles. I have not seen or tasted goose barnacles, so I was curious and not sure what to expect. The texture felt a bit like top shell or escargot.

Leek Salad & White Asparagus Salad 3.5/5

The Leek and White Asparagus Salad ($16) comes naked as the skin of the leek and asparagus are removed, retaining the soft and juicy interior. It is dressed in a butter soy cream and topped with some rocket greens and toasted almond flakes. I enjoyed the accompanying Spanish anchoives that provide the needed acidity to the dish.

Prawns 'Al Ajillo' 3.8/5

The prawns from the Prawns 'Al Ajillo' ($22 main menu) are big and juicy with a nice charred aroma, served on a bed of potato foam. However I find the garlic was a bit burnt, giving an unpleasant bitter finishing.

Fresh Burrata 4.2/5

I applauded the extra effort in serving the Fresh Burrata ($22) with a picadillo of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, preserved piparra peppers, mint, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil. It gives the creamy Italian burrata a more complex dimension with the extra boost in flavours and textures.

PIM PAM Croquetas 4.2/5

Another staple dish in Spanish cuisine is their croquetas. At FOC, there are 4 choices of the PIM PAM Croquetas ($10-$12 for 4pc main menu). The choices are ham, mushroom, crab, spinach & pine nuts. The croquetas are coated with panko bread crumb, deep fried to golden brown and topped with bechamel sauce. Soft inside and crispy on the outside, this is actually quite addictive.

Potato Bravas 4.5/5

You probably cannot tell from the picture but the Potato Bravas ($10 main menu) is made from layers of thin potato sheet that has been sliced using a pasta machine. On the top of it is aioli, salsa brava and chopped chives. You will not regret having a few of this deep fried potato millefeuille. Its not life changing but definitely worth skipping the diet plan.

Iberico Secreto Pork & Mushroom Paella 4.5/5

I am not a big fan of paella but I really enjoy the Iberico Secreto Pork & Mushroom Paella ($33). The bomba rice still retains an al dente bite which has soaked up the flavoursome chicken and pig trotters stock. It also comes with a few slices of tender iberico secreto pork, seasonal mushrooms such as ceps, oyster and button mushrooms.

Suckling Pig 4.5/5


Making a spectacular entry is the Suckling Pig ($130 half 2.5kg) which is good for up to 4 pax. The 3-6 weeks old suckling pig comes from Segovia.  It is sous vide for 10 hours before roasting in a convection oven for 30 minutes. The result is a layer of crispy skin over the soft and juicy meat. It is so soft that the server can cut it using a plate. I know some people do not like the Spanish suckling pig for the acquire milky taste but I did not trace it here.

Chocolate Forest 4/5

We tried a number of desserts on the menu such as the White Chocolate Coated Churros, Spanish Torrija, Chocolate Forest and Lemon Lemoncello. My favourite is the Chocolate Forest and Lemon Lemoncello. The Chocolate Forest ($16) is an appreciation of the different textures of chocolate in the form of cream, soil and leaf. The interesting part is in comes with a pipette of Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, that is supposed to be squeezed onto the dessert. My first time having chocolate paired with olive oil.

Lemon Lemoncello 4.2/5

The Lemon Lemoncello ($12) is a very pretty dessert. The combination of sweet and sour from the meringue and limoncello sorbet works harmoniously on the palate.

I have visited several Spanish restaurants in Singapore but non has really quite impressed me so far. This has changed after visiting FOC PIM PAM. Not sure whether it is due to my recent trip to Spain and I can connect better with the cuisine. If anyone asked me for Spanish food recommendation, I would recommend FOC PIM PAM for now.

Note: This is an invited tasting.

442 Orchard Road
Singapore 238879
Tel: +65 61004242
Nearest MRT: Orchard (NS Line)

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 12pm - 3pm, 5pm - 11pm
Fri-Sat: 12pm - 3pm, 5pm - 1am
Sun: 12pm - 3pm, 5pm - 11pm

1) Alight at Orchard MRT station. Take Exit E. Walk towards Wheelock Place via ION. Exit Wheelock Place and turn left towards Liat Tower. Cross the road at the traffic light junction and turn left towards Palais Renaissance. Continue walking down Orchard Road and turn right onto Orange Grove Road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 15 minutes. [Map]

2) Alight at Orchard MRT station. Take Exit A. Walk towards Shaw House via underpass. At the road level, walk along Orchard Road towards Palais Renaissance. Continue walking down Orchard Road and turn right onto Orange Grove Road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 15 minutes. [Map]


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