The visit to Atelier Binchotan was one that took quite a while to materialize.
To be perfectly honest, I was oblivious to the difficulty in securing seats to dine in this little hidden gem of a restaurant in Taman Desa until after the meal, so before I start, thank you Ching for securing five of us that booking a couple months ahead!
You see, Atelier Binchotan only has about a dozen or so seats arranged around a BBQ grill that’s not much bigger than your typical satay stalls. The specialty here lies within its name, Binchotan is a type of charcoal made from ubame oak from Japan. It is known for its high carbonÂ and low ash content, making it burn hotter and longer than normal charcoal, and hence, creating a superior bbq product.
The menu at Atelier Binchotan is a simple single page affair with just slightly over a dozen choices under “food” category, similar amount of choices for drinks, and three desserts. Concentrating on what you do best is usually a better idea than providing a huge selection, isn’t it?
We started out with their famous “kaya toast” (RM 50 for 2 pieces) that’s perhaps the complete opposite of the humble Malaysian breakfast carbo that we’re used to. What you get here is shredded (frozen) foie gras on toasted brioche. A very unique take on delivering the richness of foie gras, and one that works incredibly well. You do have to chomp it down before the goose liver melts tho!
Mini sweet pepper (RM 40) is served with anchovy emulsion. I’m a fan of these pepper in pretty much any dish, and the sweetness contrasts well with the salty and the sharp & tangy taste of the accompanying sauce.
Our favorite was also the cheapest on the menu, the mini burger (RM 18). Sauce gribiche with perhaps the juiciest pork patty I’ve ever sank my teeth in, it was perfect, and I’m glad we ordered 5 of these so none of us had to share. Definitely a must order.
Smoked Hokkaido scallop (RM 110) turned out to be one giant scallop cut into several slices alternating with fermented white asparagus. Luxurious, rich, and satisfying.
Octopus (RM 90) came with jalapeno and coriander sauce and was grilled to a texture that was just right, a simple and masterful execution. This is not at all like octopus legs you find in an average Japanese restaurant.
With the entrees covered, we moved onto the main dishes.
Marble Goby (RM 98) was three pieces of the fish that’s usually steamed in Chinese restaurant, except over here it’s grilled and served on white wine reduction, sugar pea, and ikura. Personally I thought this dish was “ok”, and the simpler steamed method perhaps retain more of marble goby’s natural texture and sweetness. Older folks will say a waste of this fish, and they’d not be completely wrong.
The pork cheek (RM 65) with burnt onion and chestnut puree, on the other hand, was a delight. Great mouth feel and a tasting profile that’s subtle and exquisite, very enjoyable.
Our last main was the 14 days aged duck breast (RM 70). Served with parsnip, macadamia nut, and dark chocolate. Yep, those dark bits were chocolate. Kudos to whoever that figured out the combination of duck breast and chocolates, it worked surprisingly well indeed.
For dessert, we had both types of ice cream – melon & goat cheese ice cream (RM 20 each), as well as the pistachio & blackberry tart (RM 15). I enjoyed the tart and its super light crust the most. The goat cheese ice cream is as weird as it sounds, but not in a bad way, while the melon ice cream does provide an appropriate sweet ending.
There’s a time limit on how long you could stay there due to the limited capacity, but it’ll be well after everything is served and devoured, you’ll just have to continue discussing about the food and which is the favorite dish in another location.
When do we go back again?