Yakitori gem at Tiong Bahru

The old Hua Bee coffee shop in Tiong Bahru gets a new life at night as Bincho, a Japanese yakitori omakase joint

Bincho is tucked behind a car park with a tiny sign indicating its presence, behind chill-out café Flock.

This latest dining concept by Loh Lik Peng is a unique amalgamation of the old and the new. The old Hua Bee mee pok stall becomes the modern open-concept yakitori chic joint Bincho at night, opening for dinner.

“Bincho is influenced by two traditional concepts – a yakitori-ya we fell in love with in Osaka and Hua Bee, an integral part of Tiong Bahru’s heritage. We thought it would be interesting to work with a concept that not only preserves history and tradition but introduces a modern approach at the same time,” says Lik Peng.

Resident chef Asai Masashi is well-trained in the art of charcoal grilling and brings his skill to the menu.

Unexpected Surprises

Photo credits to Bincho’s Facebook page

Do not expect the traditional yakitori sticks you get at a run-of-the-mill yakitori place. Bincho does it omakase style with an $80++ and a $120++ menu available. There are also plans to add a $60++ menu.

The meal kicked off with an assorted platter of three appetisers, which change daily except for the chicken liver pate. Don’t expect a strong-smelling French pate; this one is sweeter.

Next came a refreshing salad with slices of pork and goma dressing. The third course was a silky-smooth chawanmushi with a chicken meatball within.

The yakitori selections here are a little foreign to most Singaporean palates but the chef’s deft skills amazed me when he cooked up a selection of chicken tail (the butt), chicken breast and chicken gizzards. I don’t take the odd parts of the chicken but, somehow, the well-cleaned and tender chicken tail and the well-seasoned chewy gizzard won me over.

Filling Dishes

Tsukune. Photo credits to Bincho’s Facebook page

We also had more filling dishes such as grilled sweet potatoes, carrots and mushrooms, a chicken neck tsukune with raw egg yolk drippings, another platter of chicken thigh, chicken heart and chicken liver and the piece de resistance of a mini bowl of oyako don.

I loved the tsukune. The mark of a good yakitori place certainly lies herein as most tsukunes in so-so yakitori places turn out too hard and dry.

Desserts at Bincho are limited. It serves a single cake from Restaurant Andre. The dessert for the day was green tea cake with a side of fresh orange. If you’re lucky, you get the illusive “cheese cake cloud” dessert.

Bincho is indeed an interesting eatery in an interesting enclave.

78 Moh Guan Terrace, #01-19, Singapore 162078, Tel: 6438 4567

 By Cheryl Chia