Le Binchotan: It's the Remix to Ignition

There is an air of nostalgia as I entered the cylindrical fashioned, moody realms of the restaurant, Le Binchotan. Yet amidst the somber nature of the space, there's a spark of excitement in the air, Chef Jeremmy Chiam's impish smile affirming rumours. Taking over the reigns of the restaurant, it's outwardly apparent that new Chef-Owner, Jeremmy had a new spring to his step.

Le Binchotan, known for it's manifestation of modern French-Japanese cuisine in the back alleys of Amoy Street has had a new fire lit under its ass and with that comes swooshing in, promises of something fresh, vital and extraordinary. With great mental resistance, I consigned my previous experience of the restaurant to oblivion - after all, everyone deserves a second chance.

Oppression can do some interesting things. It can break people, it can anger people or it can inspire people. Fortunately for us, Chef Jeremmy had enough gumption to hold out his end of the kitchen vision, revitalising the menu with several new dishes that telescopes his talent.

To start the ball rolling, there were snug boxed up packages of Uni and Caviar ($25) delivered to the table. Here, the revered ingredients are given a new lease in life with Japanese corn in bacon broth mixed in with cream and set before being layered with Japanese sweet corn. House smoked sea salt flakes adds a desired saltish effect to highlight the luscious folds. Then there's a generous layer of sturgeon caviar and finally a heap of wild caught bafun uni to provide dependable luxe beginnings to the meal; the final mound of spherified shoyu pearls paramount to the dish's success.

A less grammable Burnt Aubergine ($12) dish is given a kick of life with fiery la yu (Chili oil) and a blizzard of crispy wild rice which one of our companion mistakenly identified as fried maggots? Forgive the obscene imagery that may accompany that mention.. but similarly, the dish was anything but commonplace. Australian aubergine picks up smouldering smoke flavors from being burnt prior to be scraped out, this cool treat blanketed by yogurt and white sesame dressing provides inflections of nuttiness. I'd gladly taken a larger serving had it not been for the entourage of dishes to follow.

If you're one to pursue the pleasures of sake, the Little Neck Clams ($20) sticks closest to the brief. The clear broth made from simmering clams in sake (double whammy!) and then adding enoki towards the finish is an umami bomb that's suited for rainy days and rectifying wet sock circumstances.

The menu takes a bold twist towards severely meat centric items with the Char-Pork Jowl ($35). The jowl so slumpy with confiting in duck fat and garlic, you couldn't possibly attempt portioning the dish without seeing a silver slip to the table with sneaky intent. This sits in a bed of homemade Japanese curry cream sauce with humble beginnings of green apple; that acridness crucial in breaking through the lardaceous serving of meat. I would like this on repeat prescription.

Does the world need another Braised Beef Cheek dish? Where Le Binchotan's attempt is concerned, it's a big YES. The braising liquids of shoyu and molasses sugar results in a stabilised see-saw of savoury and sweetness that coupled with patience, 'shapes' up to unrecognisable heap that's nigh on perfect. Slithers of nashi pear accentuating the base component of molasses and making references to it's Asian influence.

We digress a little from the enormity of the gluttony to talk about the drinks. To wet your weary whistle, there's the Japanese inspired cocktail menu studded with vanquishers such as the signature Le Binchotan ($23), an Old Fashioned inspired beverage that is black as night but dazzles with a Vincent Van Googh's starry night instinct - glitter. Blended whisky is infused with charcoal for that pertinent obscurity, the concoction lifted with cherry syrup, yuzu sake and angostura bitters. An edible rim of togarashi peppers adds a sprig of creativity, altering the profile of the tipple and introducing a level of spiciness that abets the rest of the dining experience. If you're in the mood for craft, Bartendress Gwendolyn Elise Wong has got something up her sleeves - for me, that would be the rum negroni. My solution to my midweek purgatory, it certainly was.

Carbs are not to be relegated to a back seat here, and as suspected, they are top notch. The Sakura Ebi Capellini ($27) kissed by umami laden shio kombu is generously salted. Definitely one to score when dining with friends. We tried to stop at one carb but was introduced the Mushroom Risotto ($29) which by golly, stole the show with it's stellar Akitakomachi rice origins. Enoki and shimeiji mushrooms form the spiritual background of this dish and this is further amplified by truffle jus and truffle paste. Alluringly sloppy, this mound of glistening grains require little persuasion for one to dive in.

Desserts give way to simplicity. A clever notion seeing the possible situation of a food coma that might ensue after a continuous assault of big boldish flavors. Smoked Chocolate ($15) sits between the classification of a mousse and a brownie; the apple wood cold smoking techniques interjecting slight savoury notes. Green tea fans will relish in the aptly named Matcha Lover ($17) - a cold treat of matcha infused white chocolate mousse with an occasional chance of red bean paste served with more adzuki red bean ice cream. It isn't an epitome of culinary ingenuity, but it gives just the right boost, required to satisfy any dessert maven.

Le Binchotan dances to a new groove now, the food (and confidence of Chef Jeremmy) has the power to reclaim slurs and change people's previous impressions, albeit one bite at a time. If you do go forth, make sure you order the burnt aubergine.

Le Binchotan
115 Amoy Street
t: 62241045
Reservations: Chope

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 11 30am - 3pm; 6pm - 12am
Sat: 6pm - 12am
Sun: Closed

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