Traditional hawker-styled mee pok stall by day, trendy Japanese restaurant by night, Bincho at Hua Bee gets a review from our Honeyboss, Chris Edwards
One of the most talked about restaurants in Singapore, we had to try this cornerstone establishment of Tiong Bahru by Unlisted Collection. If only to relish the Japanese yakitori cuisine, bask in its oh-so-hip interior design, and locate its tricky secret entrance (we’ll get to that in a bit!), we were eager to dig into one of Singapore’s must-try (die-die-must try, as they say) restos.
By day, this restaurant is actually a traditional mee pok stall – so the ambience in the main room exudes an old-school Singaporean vibe – a reflection of its Tiong Bahru shophouse surroundings. But at night, the front doors close, and you enter the restaurant through the back entrance – which was a bit of a hassle to find! Once you’ve stepped inside, however, you enter a very hip brass-plated bar, serving trendy Japanese-influenced cocktails. How’s that for a surprise?
After navigating past a very low ceiling, you enter a yakitori room – where the chefs show off skewer skills in front of a marble-topped counter table. Moving further in, you’ll find the vintage kopitiam-style dining room; the interior style and vibe is on-point – everything you would expect from the people behind Esquina, Burnt Ends and Pollen.
Prepared yakitori-style, the menu at Bincho is inspired by the traditional small grilling stalls in Japan. We were a group of four, and on the wait staff’s recommendation, we ordered several set menus (including sets for two; perfect for dates) so that we could try everything. On hindsight, we would’ve just ordered a la carte next time. We found it very mismatched to have so many small portions – from different menus – arriving at different times. It just lacked flow, and it was rather confusing and distracting.
Poor pacing aside, the nosh didn’t disappoint. Our favourite dish was the deep fried pig’s ear (I know it sounds gross, but it was de-licious!), which, funnily enough, wasn’t on any of the set menus, but something on the a la carte selection that we simply couldn’t resist from ordering.
Overall, Bincho is a really interesting dining experience, and clearly a must-try establishment of Tiong Bahru. We especially love how the 70-year-old kopitiam still serves its traditional mee pok during the day, and – kudos to great interior design – transforms into a very hip dining spot at night. There’s magic in that.
Bincho, 78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-19, Singapore 162078, p. 6438 4567. Open Tue-Fri 6pm-12am, Sat-Sun 12-3pm and 6pm-12am.