|Counter seats at the newly-opened Beni (Singapore)|
Dinner Menu: 7-course Dinner Experience menu (S$178++); 8-course Dinner Degustation menu (S$258++, add-ons for second appetizer and cheese applicable)
A year after opening at Mandarin Gallery, Beni (circa July 2015) by chef de cuisine, Kenji Yamanaka, was awarded its first Michelin star in the guide’s inaugural Singapore launch. However, even before the Michelin announcement was made in July 2016, the restaurant closed in March to move to a bigger premise on the second floor of the same building, re-opening only in mid December after months of renovation.
Schooled in France and trained in both France and Japan, Yamanaka’s Japanese-inspired modern French cuisine is a culmination of his produce-rich motherland and a solid resume that boasts stints at Georges Blanc in Vonnas (France), Restaurant L’osier in Ginza (Japan) as well as Azure 45 in Ritz Carlton Tokyo (Japan). A strong reflection of his Japanese-French approach is the amuse bouche. Labeled King of Green Hiro Gyokuro, diners are offered a shallow cup of lukewarm gyukuro to start, to which single-origin French extra virgin olive oil is subsequently added, delivering an edible induction into the world of French-Japanese cuisine. The Japanese chef’s speciality lies in his meat preparation, in particular Ozaki wagyu from Miyazaki Prefecture and this blue ribbon dish of fork-tender A5 sirloin wagyu steak (only available on Dinner Degustation menu) arrives with Perigord black truffle shavings, Madeira sauce and petit vert in a puddle of buttery Hokkaido potato mousse. Some courses draw influences from the chef’s hometown of Japan and taking his cue from chawan mushi (Japanese egg custard), Yamanaka serves his take on eggs royale, velvety steamed egg custard layered with savoury shitake and truffle veloutte studded with crotons. Diners opting for a second appetizer for an additional cost will do well to pick the chef’s interpretation of bouillabaisse (additional S$45++) – served with mussels and tilefish, the light yet robust broth prepped with tilefish bones and the shells of lobster and crab delivers the hearty richness of the seafood without cloying.
Housed in a renovated space formerly occupied by Hashida Sushi, Beni now packs in 24 guests with a maximum of eight at the counter, eight in the main dining room and another eight in the private salon. The wine list is skewed strongly towards French Burgundy by small growers, with a small selection of sake as well as a list of Royal Blue Tea for diners who opt out of alcohol. Under the guidance of restaurant manager, Antoine Capelli, service is nothing short of impeccable.