The Tiong Bahru boy in me feels a little sad when another old kopitiam or provision give way to a hipster café and restaurant. Do we really need another new shop? Yakitori restaurant Bincho, like nearby Two Face, is one which manages to retain the old, while injecting fresh vibes into the same place.
Bincho at Hua Bee is yet another brilliant brain child of restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, known for his design-oriented restaurants Cocotte, Majestic Restaurant, Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, Pollen, Keong Saik Snacks and Esquina – all under Unlisted Collection.
Day time, Hua Bee is a kopitiam with auntie cooking bak chor mee and a grouchy uncle collecting money. Being around for more than 70 years, it is also known to be the filming set of Eric Khoo’s Mee Pok Man.
Night time, Bincho takes over, all bronzy-gold and à la mode with Chef Asai Masashi presenting omakase sets.
The ‘entrance’ is at the back of the restaurant, near the carpark, under the aircon vent, near the rubbish bins.
Sit by the counter for all the action. Pick between the Sakura ($50) or Bincho set ($80), with mostly yakitori items from chicken wings, soft bone, breast and thigh.
Add $8 for free flow green tea and salad, essentially cabbage, carrot sticks with miso dip.
Some of the pieces of the 11-item set were delightfully delicious – the assorted appetizer, chicken thigh, chawanmushi with a meat ball hidden within, and soft bone karaage stands out. The vibes makes the meal quite an experience to remember.
The Mini Oyako Don, tasted quite authentically Japanese, hitting the right notes with juicy meat and fresh moist rice.
However, this meal at Bincho suffered a chicken-overdose, with more than half the selection chicken. The more expensive set would have offered the thigh, wing, liver, heart, tare, breast, neck, tail, soup, and some more, quite an overkill I thought. Some seafood would have better balanced the experience.
Perhaps because I was the only customer in the restaurant (and it was Saturday night!), the serving rhythm could have been much better planned. Some of the items arrived too quick in succession, making me feel compelled to finish the items to move on to the next.
Isn’t omakase about timing and precision as well?
Bincho’s yakitori meal was overall satisfying, matched with a stylistic enclave for a wind-down time with drinks concocted by Stefan Ravalli of The Library. It was one wonderful been-there-done-that experience, actually. And I wonder if I will return soon again, at least not in a few months.
Bincho at Hua Bee
78 Moh Guan Terrace #01-19 (near Flock Café) Tel:+65 6438 4567
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am (Tues – Fri); 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 12am (Sat-Sun)