Step into Binchotan and you’re immediately transported from a non-descript back alley in bustling Telok Ayer to a peaceful sanctuary of sleekly sophisticated dark wood paneling and a long marble bar that almost spans the entirety of the restaurant. Previously head chef and now new chef-owner Jeremmy Chiam of Le Binchotan has revamped much of the menu, while still retaining the predominantly Japanese flavours and French techniques. His path to becoming a chef was in itself an unconventional and circuitous route – originally an engineering student, he decided to follow his passion and enrolled in At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. With stints at renowned Iggy’s and Jewel Box where he was mentored by Chef Hiroki Yoshitake of Michelin-starred Sola in Paris, he took an unexpected hiatus from cooking and flew the friendly skies as an air steward with Singapore Airlines for close to 4 years. It would have been a loss for Singapore’s fine dining scene then, if he had chosen to remain. Truly in his element in the kitchen, prepare to be impressed by chef Jeremmy’s immaculate cooking and bold, layered flavours highlighting the use of premium Japanese binchotan white charcoal.
Le Binchotan’s signature cocktail – Le Binchotan ($23) – embodies its namesake in both title and essence – a black magic maelstrom of blended whisky infused with charcoal for at least 4 days, then mixed with cherry syrup, yuzu sake, Angostura, Peychaud’s and orange bitters for a potent brew of sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. Little details such as the square-cut ice block branded with the restaurant’s name, the beguiling twinkle of edible glitter swirling in the concoction’s inky depths and the togarashi-crusted glass which leaves a lingering, spicy finish on the lips make this truly a cocktail of layered depth and thoughtful composition. A real gentleman’s drink if you will.
Blow a wad and your load on this duo of luxe, decadent delights – the freshest wild-caught bafun uni and a generous dollop of sturgeon caviar piled high atop a smoothly sophisticated and balanced corn mousse specked with grilled corn. Atop, spherified shoyu pearls cheekily disguised as ikura set off a chain reaction of flavours with each spoonful of uni, caviar and corn mousse, a destructive yet mesmerising force that will have you staring wanly at the bottom of your empty Uni & Caviar ($25) cup once you have cleaned it out.
Lay any initial aspersions on the Binchotan Burnt Aubergine ($12) to rest, because this is Ugly Delicious. The aubergine is charred on the binchotan before its skin is peeled off, leaving only smoky and pliant eggplant flesh that’s well paired with a tart yoghurt sauce spiked with chilli oil and and topped with crunchy puffed wild rice. All the ingredients meticulously serve to enhance the star of the dish, making this one of my favourites of the evening.
What an enchantingly clean tasting broth made from gently simmering Little Neck Clams ($20) in sake. It’s served poured over a mound of vichyssoise which transforms the clear liquid into something more akin to a chowder, but I prefer the undiluted and original flavours of the soup on its own.
Clever visual play aside, this Japanese-style “popiah” cheekily named Edible “Charcoal” ($23) is stuffed to the seams with Angus beef short ribs slow-cooked in saikyo miso for 16-hours and its own braising liquid, breaking apart to reveal moist, moreish goodness within.
The exterior is cracklingly crisp and thin, having been egg-washed and coated in fine bamboo charcoal before being deep-fried to a blackened midnight sheen. The garlic yoghurt made from garlic oil and confit garlic is a garlic lover’s dream and cuts through the richness of the meat exceedingly well.
Perhaps the finest Mushroom Risotto ($29) – traditional or otherwise – I’ve tasted this year. The Japanese touch is strong yet never out of place with perfectly al dente premium Akitakomachi rice used instead of Arborio and sauteed shimeji mushrooms. Creamy and scented with the heady perfume of truffle, each mouthful is taken to greater heights of enjoyment with the crunch and pungency of house-made garlic chips and spring onion.
The earnestness of chef Jeremmy’s cooking is palpable in this comforting bowl of Australian Beef Cheeks that have been braised in shoyu and molasses sugar for 2 1/2 hours, with the end result being a glistening hunk of fork-tender meat stained with deep flavour. Piled upon a bed of voluptuously creamy vichyssoise as clever substitute to the more pedestrian potato puree, and topped with batons of sweet and crunchy nashi pear, this is a meal on its own. Only available on Le Binchotan’s Executive Lunch Set.
What an amazingly tender and flavourful Char-Pork Jowl ($35) marinated in dried chilli, thyme, rosemary, cloves, star anise and Japanese curry powder. Confit in duck fat for up to 5 hours, it’s no wonder the meat practically melted in our mouths. Served in a pool of tangy and fragrant Japanese apple curry cream and thin slices of nagaimo Japanese yam that have been baked then deep-fried to a crusty crispiness, I enjoyed the highly savoury richness of this main immensely.
Entangled with flavour, the multitudinous strands of flash blanched capellini are sheathed in umami rich sakura ebi infused olive oil, shio kombu and a faint whiff of garlic. Finished off with butter and chives, each slurp of the Sakura Ebi Cappelini ($29) was a mouthful of rich, mellifluous umami that’s as well-rounded as it is addictive.
For dessert, the apple of our eyes was this white chocolate and matcha semifreddo with a core of azuki beans. Served with crushed feuilletine and azuki bean ice cream, the Matcha Lover ($17) was a refreshing dessert that was none too sweet and cleansed our palates with its light and balanced flavours.
64% Valrhona is cold smoked with applewood chips then folded into whisked sugar and eggs before being baked. Once ready, the Smoked Chocolate ($15) is sliced into serving pieces and kept in an airtight container with smoke until ready to be plated. The result is an intensely chocolatey cake that’s suffused with a bold but not dominating smokiness, smartly served with a scoop of Greek yoghurt sherbert that’s in refreshing contrast to the chocolate.
Perfect for impressing first dates or for special occasions, your meal here will be a truly memorable one with great food, great drinks and personable service.
Le Binchotan : facebook | instagram
115 Amoy Street, #01-04 (Entrance via Gemmill Ln), Singapore 069935
Mon-Thu: 11:30am-2:30pm, 6:00pm–12am
Fri, Sat: 6:00pm–12am