You may have heard about the newly-launched Boyutei at Ann Siang Hill (near Chinatown) which brings together tea artisans Hvala and one-Michelin star restaurant Whitegrass.
This is possibly the first-time a Michelin restaurant is collaborating with a café in Singapore, so there is some anticipation there.
I also remember writing about Hvala the first time it was launched at Somerset (that was 2015!), and so am genuinely excited to see its growth and what Boyutei has to offer.
To be honest, I wasn’t that surprised at this partnership though. Both have Japanese roots, with their flagships in CHIJMES, and boost strong respect to design aesthetics.
Will this be a match-made in culinary (or café) heaven?
The muted and soft interiors of Boyutei take inspiration from the Japanese kanji characters 忘忧亭 of its name, which refers to a space where you can leave your worries behind.
A contrast to the surrounding bistros and bars Ann Siang is famous for. (With that said, there will also be a cosy speakeasy sake bar opening in the basement area in time to come.)
The main menu food items are conceived and exclusively crafted by Whitegrass Head Chef Takuya Yamashita, with the Boyutei offerings a ‘festival’ of Japanese-French fusion cookery.
Comforting and inspiring yet featuring familiar flavours, it includes an extensive range of soups, salads, Japanese sandos, noodles, rice dishes, as well as sweet and savoury crepes.
At the same time, Hvala is responsible for its area of expertise, overseeing the dessert and beverage section of the menu. Here’s what you can expect from Boyutei:
Ebi Katsu Sando ($22)
One of my favourites in the menu, the Ebi Katsu Sando is an open-face Japanese sandwich with crunchy, golden-brown deep-fried prawns at its centre.
The centre was moist and made an unusual brunchy item for a lazy afternoon.
Adding to the texture of the sandwich is a bed of tomatoes and cabbage atop a thick and soft brioche toast.
What helped to elevate the flavour profile was the tartar sauce and a drizzle of homemade chilli sauce that provided a hint of spiciness to every bite.
Prawn and Chicken Okonomiyaki ($22)
If you miss Japan, the Prawn and Chicken Okonomiyaki has the soul of a traditional Japanese pancake but somewhat resembles the classic French crepe.
Folded into a square, the thin crepe forms the base, hiding delicious dashi-poached chicken and prawns inside it.
The pickled cabbage and spring onions give the dish a zesty crunch. At the same time, a zig-zag drizzle of tonkatsu sauce and mayonnaise, with a sprinkle of bonito flakes, is your ticket to getting the ’feels’ of the street-food flavours of Osaka.
Cha Soba ($24)
The chilled noodle dish of Cha Soba is typically taken during summer in Japan – good to have when you are feelin’ hot here too. Also, a way to experience the unique texture of hand-made soba noodles is to eat them cold.
At the heart of the dish are smooth, silky, and notably green cha-infused buckwheat noodles. The grilled unagi compliments the soba with its light sweet taste.
The shredded kinshi tamago, Japanese egg crepe, adds a contrast in its sweetness.
Japanese Dry Curry ($22)
Prime cut beef, tenderised and cooked to a thick paste-like composition, the Japanese Dry Curry is possibly decadent with the meat, cheese sauce, and onsen egg.
This egg is accordingly simmered in spring water to increase the depth of its taste.
Contrasting intensity of its meaty undertones is a generous amount of Japanese white rice, fluffy and soft. A not-bad dish, though perhaps I was expecting more umami-ness from the curry.
Boyutei Salad ($16)
My friends on a diet (or so they claim) all voted for this salad as their favourite. I think its vibrant garden-like presentation and refreshing concoction helped.
Giving the salad a hearty and healthy character are mini tomatoes, pickled red cabbage, prawns, squid, and genmai for crunchiness.
The hojicha dressing is the final addition that enhances the salad with its trademark sweet and smoky taste.
Goma Matcha ($14)
If you talk about best matcha cafes in Singapore, then Hvala should be shoo-in. I am glad this Goma Matcha Crepe did not disappoint at all.
The plate arrives on the table with a thin sweet crepe layered with matcha pastry cream hiding underneath a nutty goma crumble.
While the crumble also gives the dish some textural complexity, it contrasts the softness of the homemade matcha ice cream placed delicately on top.
Creating that balance between sweet and earthly flavours, Goma Matcha is a must for matcha lovers.
Black Forest Tart ($17)
Served in a round disc shape, the molten dark chocolate fondant comes with an eye-popping red kirsch cherry compote.
The compote cuts through the slight bitterness of the chocolate with its sweet and acidic character.
As for the powdery chocolate soil, it lends not just to the texture of the creation but also leaves with a sweet aftertaste. Not bad.
Sticky Date Pudding ($17)
The Sticky Date Pudding is a dish that plays with unexpected different ingredients. It comprises a classic toffee pudding with miso butterscotch flavour and a hint of high-spiritedness from Bailey’s ice cream.
Beautifully plated, this dessert epitomizes the idea of opposites attract with its cold versus hot and sweet versus salty character.
Consequently, you can expect Hvala’s sophisticated gastronomic DNA to form the backbone of all the teas and drinks at the café.
Boyutei will only be using products from Hvala’s exclusive partner farms in Japan
The variety of teas on offer is equally fascinating. You are privy to exclusively curated matcha teas and blends from distinct regions of Japan.
Expect your Chinese teas to be prepared precisely 98 degrees Celsius while Japanese teas will come at 78 degrees Celsius. This is to accentuate the aromas and preserve individual flavours.
My recommendation would be The Sakura Smoked ($12). The black tea has a noticeable smoky taste juxtaposing with the subtle sweetness of Sakura flowers and the tartness of sour cherry.
Drinks at Boyutei expand beyond its teas, with various milk varieties such as the Matcha Latte ($9).
Fresh and creamy, it consists of silky, thick matcha poured over milk to generate a naturally sweet drink you can enjoy without adding extra sugar.
Will Boyutei be the place to make you forget your sorrows?
Perhaps its Crepes (particularly the Matcha Goma), desserts and drinks can. Oh, and its soon-to-be-launched Afternoon Tea set.
There is just something about a Japanese’s cafe calm and inviting aura allows you to be in another world.
28 Ann Siang Road, #01-02, Singapore 069708 (Chinatown MRT)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Last order at 9pm for food, 9:30pm for drinks
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Boyutei.