Last Updated: September 3, 2016
Le Binchotan finally joins the hidden alleyway lined up with buzzing restaurants after months of renovation. As the name suggests, a lot of the food on the menu are smoked over white charcoal (binchotan).
Founded by Jessica Lim, Kenichi Mori, Kenji Tanaka and Takahiro Inoue, this casual-chic French-Japanese tapas bar is a hidden jewel at Gemmill Lane that you have to make a trip down to.
The interior of Le Binchotan reflects that of a wine cellar Jessica visited in Australia. Most of the wine is from there too.They are handpicked to complement dishes at the restaurant.
They have a great selection of red, rose and white wines, served chill.
Depending on where you sit, you can take a cheeky peek at the kitchen in action. Head Chef, Jeremmy Chiam, is truly passionate about fusing French and Japanese inspired flavours and trust me, he knows what he’s doing. He has previously worked side by side with critically acclaimed Japanese chef Hiroki Yoshitake at one-star Michelin restaurant Sola in Paris.
Le Binchotan started us off with some amazing truffle eggs that I hope will make it on their menu. The onsen tamago was the right amount of runny, when combined with the truffles and light sprinkle of shoyu, it elevated the dish to another level with its intense flavours.
After that, we gave the signature Myoban Uni ($23) a try. If anything, the truffle eggs prepared you for the Myoban Uni. Washing away the pungently aromatic truffle, the sweet corn mousse and uni that blankets over the cup full of grilled corn, sudachi, shoyu is truly unique in taste and soft in texture.
Sweet in taste, Myoban Uni manages to hide a subtle savoury hint. The uni, flown in from Japan everyday, was also super, super refreshing.
The signature Foie Gras ($21) was pretty stellar too. Unlike your average Foie Gras, Le Binchotan’s version is shaved and tastes a lot less jelak (cloying). Accompanied by daikon, daishi gelée and shiitake, this signature dish was well balanced. The saltiness and crisp texture of the shaved foie gras went really well with the delicate and wobbly-obbly daishi gelée.
As for the Clams ($19), they were super fresh.
The clams were firm and doused in a white wine sauce that went hand in hand with the shiitake mushrooms. With hints of French inspiration, this is a must-order if you are an avid lover of all things French, clams and Japanese-y.
Ah, the grand entrance of carbs in all its glistening glory. The Fungi Large Plate ($29) is one of the best risottos I’ve had in my time in Singapore. The truffles were exceedingly aromatic and when paired with the earthy shiitake, it really accentuated the risotto’s flavour.
Psst, to keep it quintessentially Japanese, the grains used are still that of Japanese descent instead of the usual Italian risotto rice. Talk about dedication.
The Hotate (Scallops, $19) were really firm, juicy and succulent. Grilled over some binchotan, there was a slight charred flavour to it that complemented the cooling cucumber salad slathered in a light mayo-like dressing and fish roe.
The Signature Chicken Tsukune ($13) soon followed. Slightly crunchy on the outside and super soft on the inside, I found this particularly delectable. I kinda cleaned out the plate, especially so with the sweet soya sauce that complemented the tsukune so well.
Then it was time to get beefy with their signature Angus Short Rib ($39). With a few slices of lightly fried chunky potatoes, some basil leaves and a huge slab of tender short rib, the dish was definitely one to look forward to.
If you prefer something lighter, the signature Madai ($25) is guaranteed to take your breath away. Beautiful in presentation, this colourful dish packs an interesting combination of textures. The softness of the eggplant contrasted with the crunchy leaves and radish. The smoothness of the fish, doused in sherry vinaigrette, was extra comforting.
And as usual, we all know everyone has an extra stomach or two for dessert. So here goes.
The desserts at Le Binchotan are out of this planet. The Coconut ($15) is a well, coconut-flavoured panna cotta sprinkled with matcha and some berries. Perfectly wobbly, it sunk slowly and gracefully. The matcha gave the entire dessert a punch of subtle aroma that complemented the sweet treat.
The Smoked Chocolate ($15) served with frozen blueberries and yogurt shavings were equally fascinating. The brownie was really, really dense but yet still had a somewhat crunchy exterior. What captivated my heart was the sharp smoky taste it harnessed.
The only thing that could be enhanced further is if it had a little something to cleanse the palate in between bites.
The Gin, The Flower and The Bowtie ($23) was one of my favourite cocktails. As a gin and tonic represent and one that is a tad bit on the sweeter side, this drink thoroughly fulfilled every aspect of that. With a hint of coconut, balanced with hand-pressed lemon juice and topped up with roselle water, this suavely delicate cocktail is a class on its on.
If you want something more flowery, Flowers From Paris ($21) is the drink for you. This aperol and vodka-based drink is aromatic, with a slight tartness that brings out the complexity in flavours.
There’s also the Burakku Kohi ($23) that promises a caffeine fix with an alcoholic punch, ah talk about the best of both worlds. Beware of the caffeine though, my colleague stayed awake for a good long time after so I guess if you are intending to spend the night out, try it.
If you’re looking for something pretty cheeky, just ask head bartender Sugar Ray Ruban to make you a Sake My Cucumber ($21). He’ll even crack some dirty jokes while you’re at it because why not.
This cocktail was really refreshing and viciously potent. The cucumber, fresh mint and chartreuse were such a good mix the cocktail could almost pass off as an innocent lemonade, only not so innocent when it’s got your heart racing like mine.
Ahoy chocoholics, here’s one for the road. Do not be fooled by its almost clear consistency, ♥, Xhocolate ($19) will satisfy all your chocolate cravings.
Le Binchotan is also open for lunch. Look out for their seasonal lunch menu priced at $38 for 3 courses and $48 for 4 courses. There is always no service charge so tip, tip, tip, for their service is amazing.I reall
Overall, I would go back to Le Binchotan for drinks with a few girlfriends. The atmosphere is perfect for a Friday night at a bar. It is also one of the more affordable cocktail bars in town. I wouldn’t have to worry about spending a major bomb and still have a good time.
Expected Damage: $40 – $80 per pax