Who would expect to find a restaurant hidden on the fourth level of Orchard Plaza? IL DEN is a hole in the wall restaurant with only 8 seats run by Chef Javier, who also double up as the waiter, cashier and dish washer. Yes this is a one-man show restaurant. The young chef has bags of experience working in Iggy, Cenci in Kyoto and Jekyll & Hyde.
There is only 3 set menu offered at the restaurant. Lunch Set Menu starting from $25, Dinner Set Menu at $75 or Omakase Menu for $120. We tried the $75 dinner set menu starting with the crispy Kakiage which is made up of sakura ebi, shisho and ginger. The aromatic from the deep fried ebi perfumed the air and whets up the appetite for what is to come.
Next is a cold wheat noodle dish tossed in a cream based sauce and crowned with caviar. The Somen is served slightly chilled and it is recommend to have it fast before it dries up.
The Chawanmushi would take a bit of understanding to appreciate the dish as the steamed egg custard is actually quite bland. To appreciate the silky egg custard, one has to have it together with the painstaking prepared chicken wing stock, that marries the dish together. The foie gras is a welcome bonus in both flavour and texture.
The Scallop is lightly seared on the outside while the inside is still raw. This comes with house-made pickled radish in balsamic and sweet creamy uni. What interests me is the unorthodox pairing of house-made pesto sauce to go with the scallop. I would never thought it actually works quite well with the shellfish.
Chef Javier made the Orecchiette pasta inhouse and cooked them in a delish prawn head broth. These cute looking pasta is also known as little ears pasta. It is paried with ebi, ebiko and broccoli. It has an enjoyable textural bite. Someone in the group commented that its like having Mee Hoon Kueh.
Beef Short Ribs 4/5
Resting on the smooth bed of potato puree and roasted vegetables is the Beef Short Ribs that has been cooked to a beautiful fork tender, falling apart with ease. The meat's texture is more towards the braised type with a slight char on the exterior.
Panna Cotta 4.2/5
Wrapping up the meal is the Panna Cotta that comes with a layer of ginger sake jelly, yuzu and raspberry. The play of flavours especially the used of the sake's sweetness to elevate the enjoyment of the panna cotta strikes a memorable note for my meal at IL DEN.
Overall I have enjoyed the Japanese-Italian fusion cuisine at IL DEN. The execution is still a bit rough in my opinion but there are warm and soul in the food. It felt like dining in one's private home. Words have gotten around about this hidden dining spot and as far as I know reservation can be up to a month now.
150 Orchard Road
Nearest MRT: Somerset (NS Line)
Tue-Thu: 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 930pm
Fri: 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 3am
Sat: 6pm - 3am
1) Alight at Somerset MRT station. Take Exit D. Walk to ground level. Walk to junction of Orchard Road and Koek Road. Cross the road. Walk down Koek Road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 6 minutes. [Map]