French-Japanese cuisine that marries a centuries-old Japanese technique of charcoal-grilling may sound a little eccentric. But the revamped menu at Le Binchotan brings exciting new flavours like you’ve never tasted before!
Tucked away in a back alley behind Amoy Street, this hidden restaurant offers up their signature French-Japanese cuisine.
With new chef-owner Jeremmy at the helm, it’s clear that Le Binchotan is pushing boundaries with new charcoal-infused dishes; even the desserts are getting a makeover!
Le Binchotan’s trademark is using binchotan, a rare and expensive form of charcoal. It burns slowly without flaring, giving a deep smokiness minus the charred flavour.
Just like the smouldering embers, Le Binchotan’s interior is mellow yet alluring. The modern interior is intimate, and the mirror at the end creates the illusion that you’re in a long secret tunnel.
Most of the 35 seats are situated at the bar, so you won’t miss out on any of the action.
We started off the meal with a cocktail, put together by head bartender Gwen. The signature cocktail is the Le Binchotan ($23++), a full-bodied cocktail made with blended whisky. With elements of yuzu sake, cherry and even edible glitter, it’ll surprise your palate with a wave of sweet, sour and bitter flavours.
There’s even a hint of Le Binchotan’s trademark smokiness with a subtle charcoal infusion. To shake things up further, the rim is dusted with togarashi that gave each sip an interesting spice.
My favourite of the night, Le Binchotan’s Uni and Caviar ($25++), is an absolute must-try. Shaped like chawanmushi, this dish is actually a silky Japanese corn mousse topped with generous spoonfuls of bafun uni.
If you’ve never tried uni before, this dish does the luxury seafood justice as it’s fresh and not too fishy.
In each spoonful, I scooped up black caviar and shoyu pearls made in-house for a hint of saltiness. The shoyu pearls, in particular, added a rich flavour that complemented the creamy mousse well. While the portion is seemingly small, the wide range of premium ingredients cannot be denied. So worth the $25!
This is actually the Edible Charcoal ($23++), which definitely made sense considering Le Binchotan’s charcoal theme.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a dirty trick played by Santa Claus to punish naughty children. The ‘charcoal’ is Chef Jeremmy’s interpretation of popiah, but filled with pulled Angus beef short ribs instead. Soft and tender, the pulled meat contrasted with the crispy spring roll skin which crackled delightfully in each bite.
The spring roll is coated in fine bamboo charcoal, so the charcoal flavour isn’t too overpowering. I recommend dipping the roll in the garlic yogurt sauce as it gives a tartness that balances the smoky flavour.
The Sakura Ebi Capellini ($27++) seriously wow-ed me. The noodles were brimming with sakura ebi which packed a lot of flavour, even though they were on the small side.
This pasta can even be eaten with chopsticks, nobody’s going to judge! Every mouthful is laced with sakura ebi in it. Plus points for the al dente capellini cooked in shio kombu, which made it extra appetising.
If you’re a little tight budget-wise, Le Binchotan has an amazing Executive Lunch Set ($27++ for 2 courses, $34++ for 3 courses, $42++ for 4 courses). The choice can be anything from two appetisers, one main and one dessert or even four desserts for those with a massive sweet tooth!
The Braised Beef Cheek is only available on the Executive Lunch Set. Le Binchotan prides their braised beef on being spoon-tender, which I definitely agree with.
The plate also has nashi pear for some tanginess, and a potato and leek vichyssoise (thick soup) that was airy and smooth.
At Le Binchotan, charcoal finds its way even into desserts. The Smoked Chocolate ($15++) reaches new heights by cold-smoking Valrhona dark chocolate with applewood. It doesn’t give the chocolate cake a burnt taste, but the smoky flavour that’s infused is no doubt intense.
The smokiness is similar to whisky, but this dish is an acquired taste. I actually didn’t like the smokiness at first but it really grew on me with subsequent bites. The rest of the dish was superb, from the lightness of the chocolate cake to the sour yoghurt sherbet.
If you aren’t so bold, the Matcha Lover ($17++) will suit your taste buds. This crowd-favourite features the classic combination of matcha and azuki red bean; guaranteed to be a hit at the table.
Made from white chocolate and matcha powder, the frozen ‘apple’ splits open to reveal a surprise red bean core. The apple was actually quite refreshing, and paired well with the thick and milky azuki red bean ice cream.
Le Binchotan raises the bar with their unique Omakase Cocktails ($35++). The omakase menu changes monthly with a new theme, such as ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in April 2018.
I always worry about wasting my money by ordering the wrong cocktail — but it’s easily solved with the Omakase Cocktails. You can sample shots of the monthly menu’s three different cocktails, then pick your favourite, which is made into a full cocktail.
The flavours and presentations are all very imaginative, so don’t worry about being served sub-par cocktails. For just $35, you’ll taste three cocktails and enjoy an exciting experience. A definite must-try at Le Binchotan!
This hidden gem promises an exquisite dining experience. The new dishes were well-curated and thrilled my palate with intriguing flavours, especially the charcoal dishes.
Everyone deserves a treat once in awhile, and while the price may be steep you can bet that it’ll be worth every cent!
Expected Damage: $30 – $85 per pax