Food Review: Le Binchotan at Telok Ayer | Back Alley Gemmill Lane gets another Restaurant
The Place Gemmill Lane is sizzling up, the once inconspicuous back alley which is now home to four restaurants, Le Binchotan being the latest to join the ranks alongside Burger Joint, Gemmills and Maggie Joan’s. My first impression of Le Binchotan is its underground, tunnel-like design which is probably the one and only in Singapore right now. The long bar seating draws centre stage here, which seats up to 20 people. There are also a few tables tucked away in a more private corner for a more intimate gathering, though the seating capacity is really limited.
The Food Chic design aside, the focus here is French-Japanese Tapas food with a full range drinks list. Helmed by Head Chef Jeremmy Chiam, a quick glance at the menu reveals much use of Japanese ingredients married with French culinary techniques. The restaurant’s name is integral to the cooking technique here, as binchō-tan is a type of charcoal from Japan which burns at a lower temperature for a longer period compared to ordinary charcoal.
From the small plates selections, my favourite is the Myoban Uni (S$23), a mixture of corn mousse, grilled corn, sudachi and shoyu. The silky pudding texture topped with luscious Uni set a good tone for a start.
The Tenkasu (S15) is my next favourite, which is essentially mushroom tempura. The deep-fried Enoki retained the juiciness of the mushroom, and served alongside with mushroom ragout and pickled Daikon.
Good clams are hard to resist, especially the ones drenched with Japanese Sake. The Clams (S$19) here are imported from New Zealand, with generous sake content and fungi. The sake component somehow managed to accentuate the fresh flavours of the clams.
If you fancy a cold dish to kick-start your meal, the Madai (S$25) with smoked sea bream, eggplant, radish and sherry vinegrette is a refreshing option.
For a taste of the binchō-tancharcoal, it will be good to share some of the charcoal sticks, such as the Wagyu Striploin (S$15) and Shishito (S$9). The tender Wagyu Striploin was infused with Port Wine and Ume red plum liqueur to lend it that extra flavour. Shishito is a type of sweet Japanese pepper, which may or may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its tangy flavour. This is served with Furikake and sea salt as well.
For large plates, I like the Iberico Pork Jowl (S$35) with Katsu curry, green apple and “Charcoal” pumpkin. The pork was prepared sous-vide for several hours, before it was smoked on the binchō-tan to give it the tender texture.
For desserts, there are three options – Cheese Platter (S$15), Smoked Chocolate (S$15) or Coconut (S$15). The Cheese Platter (S$15) is an assortment of Smoked cheddar, Gorgonzola, gruyere, apricot, quince and walnut. The portion is quite generous and I think this is quite value for money for sharing.
The Smoked Chocolate (S$15) with frozen blueberry and yogurt sounds novel, but I wasn’t a big fan of it. The texture was on the dry side and it wasn’t that gratifying.
Comparatively, the Coconut (S$15) with cremeux, matcha and raspberry bits fared better with its rich and distinct matcha flavour, quite a strong showcase of the French-Japanese marriage.
For drinkers, the bar menu here is not to be taken lightly, with Head Bartender Sugar Ray Ruban. The cocktail names are playful, with signatures such as The Gin, The Flower and the Bowtie (S$23 – inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia), and the naughty sounding Sake My Cucumber (S$21).
Rants We find the pricing here a tad on the high side.
Will I Return Again? Am tempted to head back to the underground atmosphere here, and enjoy some bites from its small plates selections, and perhaps some drinks.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
115 Amoy Street #01-04 (entrance from Gemmill Lane)
Tel+ 65 6221 6065
Monday to Saturday:
Lunch: 11.30am to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 11pm
Drinks: 10.30pm to 12am (only bar snacks and drinks will be served)
Ranted by The Ranter