The Place French-Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines, and Beni restaurant located at Mandarin Gallery along Orchard Road has always been on my radar, even before it was awarded One-Michelin Star in the Singapore Michelin Guide 2016 and 2017. Helmed by Chef de Cuisine, Kenji Yamanaka, the space is extremely intimate – three tables, a long wooden Chef table setting which seats up to eight diners and 2 private rooms which can accommodate up to 8 and 10 persons.
Go for the Chef table if you have always enjoyed a visual feast through the culinary journey. I love observing how the chefs prepare each course with their delicate hands!
The Food There is no a la carte menu at Beni. Two menus are offered during lunch time: a 5-Course Lunch Expérience (S$88++, available during Monday to Friday only), 7-Course Lunch Dégustation (S$128++, available on Saturday). For dinner, two menus are available all week: 7-Course Expérience (S$128++) and 8-Course Dégustation (S$258++), with either being inclusive of one glass of Gyokuro King of Green tea from Royal Blue Tea.
We had the 8-course dinner degustation menu and were off to a good start with the Japanese Gyokuro Green Tea, one of the most premium types of green tea. The staff first prepared it at our table, where we had it with warm water first to savour the flavours of the tea. Then the surprise came when the same tea leaves were added with olive oil, which was surprisingly good as the tea leaves soaked up the oil to give a seaweed-like taste.
The bread we had was fantastic. Croissant, baguette, chorizo black olive with unsalted butter from France. I usually go easy on bread to pace my appetite but I finished all the warm and fresh bread served.
We started with a series of starters before our mains. The first course was the Crab with clam jelly, a cold starter with strands of fresh crab meat, followed by the Foie Gras with unagi and chestnuts.
The French Foie gras terrine was delicious. It’s served along with a small bread stick, and bits of unagi to balance the heavy flavour of the foie gras.
I’m usually not fond of cold soups, but the Mushroom with cream and truffle is an exception. The mushroom here is a mix of three types of Japanese mushrooms including enoki and shimeji, and beneath the mushroom layer is a chawamushi-like texture.
Moving on from cold starters, next up was the Scallop with celeriac and truffle dressing. The Hokkaido pan seared scallops was served with celeriac puree and black truffle sauce, along crispy squid ink chip for an added texture to the dish.
The simplest dish is usually the hardest to impress. The Egg with onion and red wine turned out to be one of my favourite on the dinner menu. The slow poached organic egg from Oita comes from free range corn-fed chicken, which lends it a bigger than usual yolk and size. The egg is served along with French Cevennes onion confit and topped with Italian autumn truffle. Mix it all together, and the resulting flavour is packed with so much umami!
The mains were nothing less than the stellar starters so far. The Amadai with radish and crab bisque is from Kyoto, stuffed with mushrooms and onion. The base of the amadai is an interesting stock, made from a combination of winter melon, chicken and chives.
For our last savoury dish, I would say it was well worth the wait. Being a big fan of Japanese Wagyu beef as I love the intense marbling which typically comes along, this plate of Kobe beef with potato and Madeira lived up to my expectations. The beef was very well-marbled, grilled to a succulent medium-rare texture. There is an option to increase the stake here, albeit at a high price of S$100 for additional 50g of beef.
It was already quite filling for me at this point, where the pre-dessert was served – a refreshing mix of Hojicha and lemon sorbet with panna cotta.
For the dessert proper, it was a beautiful and colourful plate of Grapes – kyoho, muscat and campari, along with white chocolate mousse, blueberry sorbet and yogurt. I really appreciate such a refreshing plate of dessert, especially when it involves Japanese fruits.
Lastly, the meal was concluded with the Petits Fours, which comprised of Matcha mochi, lemon lime macaroon, pistachio parfait and financier.
Rants Well, it’s a fine dining restaurant, so expect some material damage to your wallet.
Will I Return Again? Beni definitely lives up to it’s One Michelin Star accolade. Every course of the menu is consistently good, down to their homemade breads. I enjoyed the Japanese-French fusion and this is easily one of my favourite Michelin restaurant in Singapore, other than Restaurant Andre (read our full review here).
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
333A Orchard Road
#02-37 Mandarin Gallery
Tel: +65 9159 3177
Mondays to Saturdays: 12pm to 3pm; 7pm to 10pm
Closed on every Sunday and certain Public Holidays.
Ranted by The Ranter