Fancy an izakaya experience that’s out of the ordinary? This brand new izakaya bar’s daring small plates and cocktails are bound to thrill adventurous diners
Izakaya-style dining is all the rage in Singapore, and as a fan of the movement, I was especially thrilled to find this low-key joint taking shape on Amoy Street. This very narrow izakaya serves as a playground for Chef Jeremmy Chiam, who blends Japanese ingredients and French culinary styles to create unique izakaya dishes that are perfect for post-work bites. And particularly, the establishment prides itself on smoked meats and seafood, done traditionally over a binchō-tan (white charcoal) grill.
Le Binchotan’s French influences were made very apparent, very quickly, as my first starter was brought out. The izakaya’s take on foie gras was unlike any other foie gras dish I’ve ever tried – the foie gras wasn’t a solid piece, but instead crumbled, and sprinkled atop daikon, shiitake and a cool daishi Gelée. The latter served as a rather clean tasting juxtaposition to the rich foie gras shavings.
Any self-respecting izakaya joint, French-influenced or not, has got to have some offal on the menu, and Le Binchotan doesn’t disappoint. Le Binchotan’s tripe comes served with champignon mushrooms and fleur de sel (a finishing salt that is absolute magic). Simplicity is key here, and the chewy, beefy-tasting tripe is an excellent complement to a couple of cocktails. If it’s something lighter you’re after, opt for the artfully plated Madai. The dish of smoked sea bream, eggplant, radish and sherry vinegrette comes artfully plated and showcases the freshness of the ingredients and while packing a divine smokiness. I’d later come to realise that chef Jeremmy’s love for smoky flavours extends to more unorthodox dishes as well.
Larger plates like the Iberico pork jowl soon made an appearance. The tender,slabs of pork came served with drizzles of katsu curry and the rather unusual addition of a green apple puree for a little tartness. But even more unusual was the “charcoal” pumpkin – these charcoal black chunks, when cut open, revealed rich, creamy pieces of pumpkin.
But if you ask me, the izakaya’s centrepiece is very obviously the bar, so won’t find yourself getting thirsty here. Head Bartender, Sugar Ray Ruban’s, creations are as colourful as his moniker. The cheekily named Sake My Cucumber is a refreshing mix of sake, cucumber, fresh mint, chartreuse and sparkling water – the highlight here being the chartreuse, a herbal French bitter made by Carthusian monks that imparts a sweet, spicy vegetal taste to the drink. Another signature tipple, Amoy’s Margarita swaps the usual tequila backbone of this classic for its smokier more nuanced cousin, mezcal. Fans of margarita who want a twist should opt for this one. But Ruban’s most intriguing concoction by far is the <3 Xhocolate, which is essentially a whisky sour that swaps whisky for a rich, chocolate liqueur. It manages to balance citrus notes with sweet chocolate for a delightful dessert cocktail.
And speaking of desserts, it’s here that Chef Jeremmy’s love of smoky flavours makes another appearance, this time, in a thick smoked chocolate brownie. The dense brownie comes served with tart frozen yogurt (literal frozen yogurt shards) and displays an intense smokiness, not unlike a peaty whisky. It’s a peculiar dessert, but one definitely worth trying.
Le Binchotan is more than just an establishment that plays with Japanese and French influences. Both chef and head bartender walk a razor’s edge, balancing unique tastes and textures in forging daring dishes and cocktails. Up for something a little out of the ordinary? This Amoy Street gem will be right up your alley.
Le Binchotan, 115 Amoy Street #01-04 (Entrance via Gemmill Lane), Singapore 069935. p. 6221 6065. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-12am. Closed on Sun.