Having passed by the inconspicuous Gemmill Lane a couple of times, I’ve always been intrigued by that 35-seater restaurant with interiors mimicking that of a train tunnel. Le Binchotan has been around for a couple of years now and was recently taken over by Chef-Owner Jeremmy Chiam who has had successful stints at Iggy’s and the Jewel Box in Mt. Faber. Recently, I was invited over to check out the French-Japanese fusion restaurant for the new menu that Chef Jeremmy introduced.
We started off the dinner with the Uni & Caviar (S$25), a visually striking dish. As suggested by the name, this is not your typical corn mousse. The highlight is the generous layer of caviar, shoyu pearls and bafun uni on top which really adds a nice sweet-salty contrast. I love the creamy nature of the corn mousse which is made even creamier by the supple pieces of fresh uni. For something this premium, you’d expect the price to be inaccessible but at $25, it’s reasonable. This is Chef Jeremmy’s way of thanking clients for their patronage. Le Binchotan has had a number of repeat customers just for this starter.
Next came the Binchotan Burnt Aubergine ($12). As the name suggests, the eggplant is burnt on the binchotan to create an extra-smoky charred flavor. Served cold, it comes with yoghurt dressing, white sesame seeds and a dash of chili oil. Finally, it’s topped with deep fried wild rice grains to give a nice alternating crispy texture to the luscious eggplant. While I did find the smoky concept to be quite creative, I have to admit I wasn’t really used to eating something that tasted burnt.
The Edible Charcoal ($23) is a clever play on your typical fried popiah (spring roll). Think of this as a premium version for the carnivore – inside, it comes with angus beef short ribs that’s been cooked in saikyo miso for 16 hours. The skin is black after having been brush into an egg wash and coated with fine bamboo charcoal before deep frying. Make sure to eat it with the addictive garlic yoghurt for that extra kick.
For something lighter, the Little Neck Clams ($20) serves as a good counterpoint to meat dishes. I love the plump shellfish sitting atop the vichysoisse – the latter is made in-house with sauteed leeks, boiled potatoes and a little cream. You can also taste the salt that naturally comes from the clams with every sip of the clear broth.
But I have to say that the true highlights at Le Binchotan (aside from the Uni and Caviar starter) are in the mains and I loved them all. The Char-Pork Jowl ($35) is a gem with its Japanese curry powder and spice marination and comes with a good proportion of cheek fat for a more juicy flavor.
The Braised Beef Cheeks (available for lunch sets) is probably good on its own for light eaters. The meat is well-braised in Japanese shoyu and molasses for a good 2.5 hours to make it chewy. It also comes with Vichysoisse.
The carbohydrate dishes at Le Binchotan are a standout that I could not help but take second servings in each. The Sakura Ebi Capellini ($27) looks deceptively simple with only the little shrimps as toppings but I found the noodles highly fragrant. Sakura ebi is sauteed in olive oil, then shio kombu is added with a dash of minced garlic. It is then finished off with butter and chives. Capellini is a clever choice for this Asian-tinged pasta dish. It reminds me quite a big of egg noodles or even mee kia.
For those who prefer rice, the Mushroom Risotto ($29) is a decent choice. It may look like Italian risotto at first but look closely and you’ll see enoki and shimeji mushrooms which adds a Japanese element to the dish.
We finished off the meal with two desserts. First was the eye catching Matcha Lover ($17), a delightful mix of white chocolate and matcha powder moulded into the shape of an apple. You’ll want to dig into the core which consists of a layer of red bean paste.
Chocolate lovers would prefer the Smoked Chocolate ($15) with its 64% Valrhona dark chocolate cold-smoked with apple wood. It also comes with yoghurt sherbet on the side plus a helping of berries.
Through Chef Jeremmy’s new direction, Le Binchotan is so much more than just about the skewers. They also offer some affordable set lunches here (from $27 per person) so I’ll consider popping by during the weekday for lunch with colleagues or business partners.
115 Amoy Street (entrance via Gemmill Lane)
+65 6224 1045
Monday to Friday
11:30AM to 3PM (lunch)
6PM to 12 midnight (dinner)
6PM to 11PM (dinner)