Having an office in Tanjong Pagar is definitely a blessing, especially on days when you need to let your hair down and chill with a couple of delicious cocktails. To be honest, I am super unwilling to share more about Le Binchotan on my blog as this hidden bar with the entrance in the back street of Gemmill Lane only has 33 seating. But I can’t be selfish, right? Afterall, I started blogging for a very simple reason – to share more about my experiences.
Just like its name, French ‘Le’ and Japanese ‘Binchotan’ (rare and expensive kind of charcoal) French-Japanese restaurant has been opened in the hood for more than 1 and a half year. But with a new head bartender, Gwendolyn, coming onboard as well as Chef Jeremmy Chiam becoming the new Chef-Owner, exciting items and interesting cocktails are coming their way to Tanjong Pagar.
People would often skip the complimentary bread but not me. Neither should you! The bread was so soft with a lovely crust and the homemade butter was totally amazing. While sea salt butter might be slightly more common, it was definitely my very first time trying that slight sweet yet smooth carrot puree butter. Together with active charcoal powder to give the sea salt butter that nice black tone, the butter was both instagram worthy and delicious.
Uni & Caviar at $25 might sound a bit on the high side. However, once it was served, one would find that the generous amount of uni has already made this starter very value for money. Oh yes, not to forget those charred corn kernels, smoked sea salt flakes, caviar, ikura looked alike shoyu pearls and that smooth yet flavoursome Japanese corn mousse, which was made using Japanese corn cooked in bacon and onion broth until tender, then blended and sieved. I adored that hints of smokiness that brought out the flavours of the bacon and the dish was well balanced yet bursting with flavours! This is definitely a must order!
When I was told that we will be served with maggots for our next dish. I was actually looking forward as I am quite adventurous when it comes to food. To my disappointment, there was no maggots found in the cold starter that was served. Instead, we had Binchotan Burnt Aubergine ($12), topped with deep-fried wild rice grains. The Australian aubergine was cooked on binchotan with skin removed after cooking. There was a lovely charred aroma with a slight kick from the dressing made with yoghurt, white sesame seeds, sesame oil and a dash of Japanese chilli oil (la-yu). Surprisingly, I fell for this chilled aubergine dish and its unique flavours!
The core of cooking in Le Binchotan evolved around Binchotan, an expensive Japanese white charcoal that can continue burning in a lower temperature than normal charcoal without flaring.
Hence, it was without doubt that Edible Charcoal ($23) was one of the signature item here. The Angus beef short ribs was slow-cooked in saikyo miso (a sweet mild miso) and port wine for 16 hours until fork-tender before being shredded into smaller pieces. Then the braising liquid was further reduced and frozen. Every Edible Charcoal was prepared ala minute by combining the frozen reduction and the pulled meat and wrapped in spring roll skin. The rolled spring roll was then brushed in an egg wash before coated in fine bamboo charcoal and deep fried in a deep frying vessel specially set aside for this dish! Oh yes, do not forget to eat it with the garlic yoghurt which was painstaking prepared by cooking the garlc at a low temperature for roughly 3 hours before it was mashed and blended with plain greek yoghurt.
One of the highlight got to be the Little Neck Clams ($20) which made up of fresh, plump and juicy little neck clams in a hot comforting sake clear broth. So delicious that I think I can eat this everyday!!!
Braised Beef Cheeks which was also one of the main course choices in the lunch sets menu (from $27) was braised in Japanese shoyu and molasses sugar for 2.5 hours and served with house made vichyssoise and nashi pear.
Sakura Ebi Capellini ($27) was another crowd pleaser. With the capellini cooked just right, al dente, Sakura ebi, shio kombu and the minced garlic added different layers of flavours to this slim and thin pasta.
For curry lovers, do not miss the Char-Pork Jowl ($35). The pork jowl was marinated in a medley of herbs which included dried chilli, thyme, rosemary, cloves, star anise, Japanese curry powder before it was cooked in duck fat and whole garlic for 3 to 5 hours. Then it was served with a house made curry cream sauce and crispy nagaimo after it was grilled on binchotan.
I am literally drooling as I think of the Mushroom Risotto ($29) at Le Binchotan. What Chef Jeremmy has done differently was to use the Akitakomachi rice instead of using carnaroli. But not to worry too much my risotto loving friends, short or medium-grain rice with a firm texture and high-starch content would work just fine for risotto. What I really love about the mushroom risotto here is the usage of enoki and shimeiji mushrooms together with both truffle jus and truffle paste which gave it more texture as well as flavours. Oh yes, that touch of chopped spring onions and housemade garlic chips did their magic too.
Do not leave Le Binchotan without any happy ending. Happy ending here refers to the desserts in case your mind was wondering to elsewhere. Matcha Lover ($17) was pretty, well balanced and delicious. To be honest, I was so surprised when I was told it was made with white chocolate as it wasn’t as sweet as most white chocolate desserts.
I thought that the 64% Valrhona dark chocolate which was cold smoked with apple wood would go perfect with some whiskey on the rock. Smoked Chocolate ($15) would definitely be my choice of a TGIF dessert to celebrate any fun filled weekend ahead!!!
Talking about whiskey, if you are looking for a cocktail to surprise you, do give LeBinchotan ($23) a try. A blended whisky based cocktail that was infused with charcoal and glitter for at least four day. With every sip, one should be able to taste four different flavours – sweet, sour, bitter and spicy.
For ladies who are up for something lighter, prettier and more refreshing, try the purple dream which was inspired by a dream that Head Bartender, Gwen has dreamt of.
After 2 years, with a change of management, a new bartender and with Jeremmy being more polished and matured, my return trip to Le Binchotan was nothing but a pleasant dining experience. This is definitely a place that I would recommend to friends and a place that I can pop by any time for some comfort food and a drink.
115 Amoy Street #01-04 Singapore 069935
Tel: +65 6221 6065
Operating hours: Mon ~ Sat Lunch 11.30am to 3pm
Dinner 6pm to 11pm
Drinks 10.30pm to 12am (only bar snacks and drinks will be served)