The Place We revisited Le Binchotan recently, the tunnel lookalike restaurant at one of the most secret dining lane in Singapore, Gemmill Lane right next to Gemmills and Maggie Joan’s. While Chef Jeremmy used to be the head chef at this French-Japanese restaurant and bar, he has now doubled up as Chef-owner of the 35-pax restaurant.
The Food While some of the signature dishes on the menu remains, more than half of the dishes have been refreshed. The dishes are mainly prepared from Japanese and French ingredients, using French cooking techniques and traditional Japanese grilling method over the binchotan, or charcoal.
The drinks menu here features a good mix of cocktail and wine selections. I tried the signature Le Binchotan (S$23) cocktail, which has notes of sweetness, sourness, bitterness and spiciness, a pretty interesting take on life if I were to be philosophical about it.
One dish for a promising start is the Uni and Caviar (S$25). We all know fresh uni can’t go wrong, but what this version sets it apart from others is the smooth pudding-like texture with beautiful hints of Japanese corn in bacon broth and charred corn. The bafun uni here is also topped with what seems like ikura pearls, but in fact shoyu pearls in disguise.
The Binchotan Burnt Aubergine (S$12) has a queue combination of yoghurt and white sesame dressing with Japanese chilli oil, which works well surprisingly. The dish is then garnished with deep-fried wild rice grains.
The Edible Charcoal (S$23) is another deceptive dish. It looks like spring roll at first sight, hence my surprise upon realising that it is stuffed generously with Angus beef short ribs. The overall flavour is a nice contrast of the crispy texture and the tender beef ribs within, made better with the accompanying garlic yoghurt sauce.
If you are looking to share a dish, the Little Neck Clams (S$20) is an easy option. The star here is the delicious broth of Vichyssoise, enoki and Japanese sake.
For mains, the Char-Pork Jowl (S$35) is one of Chef’s signature dishes. The presentation looks like a simple Japanese curry dish, and I can understand why this is one of the signatures. The pork jowl is very tender as it is slow cooked with duck fat for a few hours before being grilled on binchotan. The pork flavour works well with the mildly spiced curry sauce which has elements of white wine and mashed green apples. To balance the dish, thinly sliced nagaimo is served by the side.
I also tried one of the main course choices available in the lunch sets (starts from S$27++), the Braised Beef Cheeks. It is a shame that this is not available on the dinner menu as I really enjoyed the tender flavour here after the beef is braised in Japanese shoyu. Other elements in this dish include Potato, Pear and Molasses Sugar.
For pasta inspired dishes, the Sakura Ebi Capellini (S$27) won’t go very wrong. I love the dose of olive oil in this dish, along with the shio kombu flavour added to the capellini.
Alternatively, the Mushroom Risotto (S$27) makes a good comforting option. The dish uses Akitakomachi rice, enoki and shimeiji mushrooms, added with just the right amount of truffle jus and truffle paste along garlic chips. The texture is creamy, yet the truffle flavours lends a more complementary effect rather than being superfluous.
Desserts are not spared from the Japanese-French elements either. Shaped like a green apple, the Matcha Lover (S$17) is specially for Japanese dessert lovers. White chocolate is infused with matcha powder here before being moulded into the shape of an apple, before being frozen with red bean paste in the middle. The flaky bits of crushed feuilletine along with the dessert adds an extra dimension to the dessert.
A heavier dessert to have is the Smoked Chocolate (S$15), where the 64% Valrhona dark chocolate is cold-smoked with apple wood, and served with fresh blueberries and yoghurt sherbet. The smokiness of the chocolate is very pronounced, while the intense dark chocolate taste is balanced by the sourness of the yoghurt sherbet.
Rants The small space makes it challenging for big groups, especially for more than 6 pax. There are limited dining tables with majority of the seats at the bar counter.
Will I Return Again? The entrance of Le Binchotan and the seemingly claustrophobic tunnel look is easily misunderstood as a bar concept more than a restaurant. In fact, the food menu is very robust and I feel that the restaurant has found a stronger foothold after its recent rebrand as compared to its early opening days. To add, the tunnel-like ambience at night is unique in its own way.
Make your reservation instantly at Le Binchotan here.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Monday to Friday: 11.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 12am
Saturdays: 6pm to 11pm
Closed on Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter