Le Binchotan may have been around since August 2016 but its original part-Singaporean, part-Japanese team is no longer and former head chef, Jeremy Chiam, who cut his teeth in Iggy’s and Caffe B, has bought over the wood-decked bunker-like space at Amoy Street since end 2017.
In line with its name, the concept remains French-Japanese with a focus on cooking internationally sourced produce using a combination of French and Japanese techniques (the latter being bincho-grilled food). However, Chiam has revamped 80 per cent of his menu, keeping only dishes that he personally created before he bought over the restaurant.
Before you jump to conclusion, Le Binchotan is no izakaya. Yes, it has a short Sumiyaki menu of skewered meats and vegetables that are smoked on the bincho grill but the restaurant’s raison d’être is its more-western-than-Japanese a la carte offerings of sharing plates, comprising both Small Plates and Big Plates, served over the counter. If you are keen to try something a little difference, request for the off-menu omakase ($85++ for five courses and $120++ for seven courses, advance booking required).
The biggest highlight on the menu is no doubt Chiam’s signature dish of Uni & Caviar ($25++), a glass of charred corn kernel and bacon-embedded egg custard topped with almost 10 tongues of bafun uni (27 grams to be exact) and beautiful pearls of shoyu “caviar” for a burst of umami.
Shellfish lovers will also want to slurp-up the vichyssoise-infused sake broth that arrives with the Little Neck Clams ($20). Thankfully, the broth tastes more of the luscious New Zealand clams and sake than of the thick soup prepped with potatoes, leek and onion. It’s not a bad way to give the bowl a subtle creamy finish although a riot of different mushrooms (including shimeji, oyster and enoki mushrooms) will get in the way of your enjoyment.
To finish, you won’t want to miss Chiam’s ace pasta dish of Sakura Ebi Capellini ($27), oodles of sakura ebi-studded angel hair enrobed in olive oil with bits of chopped shio kombu and chopped chives. Although a little greasy, we reckon the grease is a perfectly acceptable trade-off for the richness of umami flavour.
Don’t leave without trying the Iwate Kura Oyster Stout ($17++ for 330ml) from Japan. You’ve not tasted umami in a stout until you’ve gulped down a bottle of this.
115 Amoy Street #01-04 Entrance via Gemmill Lane, Singapore 069 935; +65-6224 1045
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.