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