It's a rare occurrence that I completely write off a restaurant for atrocious service. And Bincho takes the distinction for that. It was such a waste, as I'd high hopes for the Loh Lik Peng restaurant. I mean, that guy's got good taste in food man. Too bad the chef at Bincho is ridiculous.
So...as per usual request of all my meals, I asked the kitchen to hold off any parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions in all of our orders. At that point in time, there was no indication that such request would be an issue for the kitchen.
But, as I take photos of the squid that arrived first on the table, the waitress comes over and relays, very contritely, that the chef says "no photos" of the food because "you said no parsley".
I'm incredulous. How does it make any sense?!
If the chef was displeased at my picky palate, that I don't eat those herbs, then tell me straight off the bat, and I would have left to go eat somewhere else. It wasn't as if I asked for the kitchen to have the raw fish on my sashimi platter fried instead.
Or, if the chef was afraid that the food wouldn't look pretty because there's no garnish of parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions, then he's willfully blind, because the dishes actually looked beautiful. To have pinned so much value on the visual splendour of those herbs??! Seriously. Get a grip.
Or, if the lack of those herbs compromised the integrity of the dish, whether in respect of the taste or the appearance, then don't serve a rendition without those herbs at all. But he served the no-parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions version, and I ate that very version. It is what it is, right? Irrespective of any photos taken, I would only have been able to talk about the dishes, sans those herbs, that I actually ate.
In any case, I believe that a request to hold off all parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions is perfectly reasonable, and not at all uncommon. Half the people I know hate hate hate those herbs. I'm violently adverse to them, and am unable to keep down any food containing any of these herbs. Also, I can't see how such a request would be disrespectful to the chef in any way. I've made such requests to every restaurant I've been to, around the world, and even in Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan where the chefs are renowned to be finicky and take utmost pride in their craft, with absolutely no issue. It's not as if I brought my own bottle of sambal belachan, smeared it all over my food, and then took a picture of it. And I've never before, been told "no photos" just because my dishes have no parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions. I'm baffled.
If Bincho had a clear-cut policy across the board, that no photos be allowed in the restaurant, (like Buko Nero along Tanjong Pagar Road which explains that some of their customers had previously taken photos of their half-eaten dishes and posted them up, which is gross), I would understand and comply. But this wasn't the case. It was an arbitrary rule that was only imposed because I requested that all parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions be held off all dishes.
All I can surmise is that the chef is insecure yet arrogant, overly sensitive about his precious food, and sees himself as an artist. Such ego is not unexpected if it was a 3-Michelin starred chef who's extremely prolific and celebrated. But the chef at Bincho is NOT. And like most people who fancy themselves artists, his over-inflated ego is entirely misguided.
It's such a pity, as Bincho's food was actually good, even with a couple of misses. But it's certainly not good enough for me to bear such megalomaniac attitude.
For the record, I still took photos anyway. There are no laws against taking photos of food in a public space. I took them surreptitiously, on my iPhone, which photos suck compared to those taken on my Sony Cybershot RX100 IV. So, because of the chef's demand that "no photos" because "no parsley", I ended up taking photos which look significantly worse than if I had taken them on my camera. Ironic, that in the chef's attempt to prevent "less-than-amazing" photos of his food being taken, I ended up with posting up photos which look worse off.
It didn't help that the bar section of the restaurant was overwhelming with the stench of the drain, which is immediately evident from the moment you step into the restaurant. I couldn't smell the awful stench from where I was seated, at the back of the small dining hall, but that wretched stench was unappetizing, to say the least.
The only nice photo of dinner was the middling Grilled Squid ($28), which ginger ponzu dip overwhelmed the delicate seafood. The spiced mayo was a much better accompaniment, but I wasn't too keen on mayo.
Another lackluster dish, the Grilled Australian Wagyu with Asparagus ($62) was overpriced and stodgy. That said, I liked the black pepper sauce, it livened and distracted from the flat taste of the meat.
The Grilled Sakura Cabbage ($20), slathered with a creamy anchovy sauce and sprinkled with lashings of crispy sakura shrimp, was excellent. Wonderful balance of flavours and textures.
The Kurobuta & Black Garlic ($30) was a mixed bag, the black garlic and golden garlic confit was fantastic, full of umami and toasty buttery accents, but the pork was a smidge too full-bodied for my liking.
A superb recommendation by the waitress, the Bincho Style Grilled Octopus ($45), sided by a capsicum sauce, was perfectly cooked and delicious on its own. Even better was the potato coins, they must have been fried in some kind of awesome animal fat. So so good!!
The Grilled Chicken Breast with Truffle ($28) was indulgent and luscious and insanely yummy. I'm thinking the breast meat must have been given the brining treatment. A must-try at Bincho.
The Chicken Thigh Yakitori ($15) paired with a trio of mustard, wholegrain, horseradish, and Japanese pepper, was succulent and juicy.
The Tsukune & Egg Yolk ($18) was beautifully smoky and flavoursome.
Bincho's facade, where you enter from the back of the shop space. The Hubs pointed out that it was little wonder that the entryway smelled so bad - what would you expect if you entered through the backside of anything, right?
78 Moh Guan Terrace #01-19
Tel: 6438 4567
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Closed on Mondays