You probably all know that I eat out a fair bit. I do my best to write about all my food experiences but frankly there aren’t enough hours in the day. And as much as I’d love to devote all my time to writing for you dear readers, at the end of the day, I need to do some paid work so that I don’t burden you all with meaningless advertising and spam on the site
A recent idea I had was that I should do a 30 second video for every single meal I eat out. I could give you the run down of the restaurant, the food, the service and how much it cost, all in 30 seconds, and post it to youtube so you could get a quick update without having to read through reams of my jibberish. What do you think? I’d love to know if you think it’s worth it.
That preamble is my idea of an excuse as to why I haven’t yet written about Bincho at Hua Bee. I visited Bincho back in January, with two beautiful friends of mine, one living here and one on a visit from London. The restaurant has gained a reputation, partly for its quirky aesthetics and location, and partly for the food.
By day Bincho is called Hua Bee, a traditional coffee shop type of diner serving local food. By night the counter is dressed up a little, a few blackboards are placed strategically, the lighting is dimmed and, voila, you have a classy and neat little restaurant.
Not to mention the super cool cocktail bar that lies behind the inverse Japanese flag in the corner. There you’ll enter a dimly lit, industrial looking space with a lovely smiling bartender (he did tell me his name but I’ve forgotten) who will concoct cocktails that evoke a sense of Asia and taste very moreish. I had one of the ones on the outside of the picture, it was called Yuzu Be Alright 😉 and it was indeed. Yuzu (a citrus fruit from East Asia) has featured in a few cocktails I’ve had recently and I love its sweet and sour combination.
The food is mostly what it’s about though. Bincho is based on yakitori (grilled meat) style restaurants from Japan. There is an a la carte menu or several set menu options. There were three on our visit, the Bincho menu ($120++), the Sake pairing menu ($150++) and the Fugu menu ($180++ for two people). We went for Bincho and the first thing I’ll say is that the amount of food was more than enough, too much really. However it was an awesome opportunity to try many different dishes. Looking back through the photos I’m reminded that there were a few stand outs, namely the lamb, the cod and chicken pâté (not exactly what you’d expect in a Japanese restaurant).
The presentation of every dish was exquisite. Assorted appetisers (including the pâté) were a tasty start, there were a lot of pickles which were good to cut through the richness of the other dishes. Next up was sashimi and our expectations were high. The serving was extremely generous but I think there was a compromise on quality. I’d prefer to have a smaller serving of better quality sashimi. It wasn’t bad, just not outstanding.
The miso cod was next and it was excellent. A well sized portion of succulent cod, with the miso lifting the fish but not overcoming it. We then had the wagyu ($30++ surplus). Because we were three we went with one fish, one lamb and one beef option to share. This was a great way to go as you got to taste everything (unless you were h who is a quasi vegetarian, sorry h!)
The meat was good, but again not as flavourful as I would have expected (I’m not sure what the grading was but the meat didn’t have the richness that I’ve enjoyed in wagyu on other occasions).
Again the next course overcame any misgivings, the lamb was very tender, cooked well and full of flavour. After a small interlude of grilled vegetables we then had the yakitori platter. This was four cuts of chicken, all grilled nicely and presented beautifully. I enjoyed the dish and although my companions felt the chicken was a little oily, I enjoyed the succulent flavours and the different cuts (heart, neck, thigh and one other that I can’t remember).
Next was a weird one but something I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Fugu. This famous pufferfish from Japan is well known because if it’s not prepared correctly you could die from the toxins that you ingest. In Singapore you cannot import whole Fugu, the toxins must be removed by expert chefs in Japan, and then they can be imported into Singapore. Ours was sashimi style, sliced thinly and in itself did not exhibit much flavour. The texture was chewy and not particularly memorable in any other way. Amusingly one of my friends was not game to try it and requested a replacement. This is what she got.
Yes, that’s a few slices of carrot with some miso dipping sauce. We all thought that was a little cheeky. On the upside our grilled cheese tsukune (chicken meatballs) were tasty, although a little oily. We then had the ‘don of the day’ followed by Hokkaido ice-cream balls. By this stage though I was so full I’d lost most of my appreciation for food.
We enjoyed our meal with a couple of pitchers (180 ml) of sake (Sougen) that went well with the food. All up we paid $200 each for one cocktail, a Bincho menu each (including one wagyu upgrade) and 120ml of sake.
Although it was expensive I would return to Bincho, the evening in its entirety was a good combination of cocktails, cool venue, good food and good service too. Possibly the a la carte menu would be a better option so you could pick and choose your food without eating as much as we did. And maybe then it would be a little better value for money.
Bincho at Hua Bee
78 Moh Guan Terrace, Singapore
phone +65 6438 4567