Ring in Christmas with French-Japanese flair at one Michelin-starred Béni
This is what your week ahead probably looks like — dinner with parentals (check), high tea with girlfirends (check), massive house party with everyone you know (check). What's left is to plan your Christmas time for two with your other half, which has been put on the backburner for longer than you expected. And while Christmas dinners at home are a ball of fun, dressing up and popping out for the night to have somebody else do the cooking is not such a bad idea, either.
Here's where we turn to one-Michelin starred Béni. With a festive menu inspired by ingredients and flavours from wintry Hokkaido, be taken for a joy ride as Chef Kenji Yamanaka showcases his creative chops in eight spectacular French-Japanese courses.
Béni's thoughtful attention to detail is palpable from the get go. Homemade bread is served in a drawstring bag filled with hot stones so your rolls remain the perfect temperature throughout your meal. The first three small plates set the scene for Chef Yamanaka's clever choice of flavours and textures. Shiro ika (a white squid species) is first served in mousse, vegetable jelly and diced fennel, followed by a heady concoction of lobster pieces in a bed of daikon and caviar. Brave hearts will be stoked to find shirako up next on the menu — also known as cod sperm, this is dished out in a hearty cod soup and topped with black truffle. To be fair, the shirako is chewy and fairly tasteless, without any trace of an offensive bite.
A beautiful king crab makes an appearance next, wrapped in pork fat and served with a light scallop mousse and sea urchin. Squaring off against the robust crab is the Hokkaido menuke, a Japanese rock fish steamed and braised to perfection with zesty yuzu and chives. Wrapping up the savoury feast is Béni's prized Nozaki A5 wagyu beef, infused with hojicha leaves and salt-baked for 12 hours to cut through the full-bodied flavours from the well-marbled meat.
Dessert is up and it's an impressive showing that will convert even stubborn non-dessert lovers. A palate cleanser of Japanese pomelo from the Koji prefecture will bring your taste buds back to neutral for the last dish of the day — 'Strawberry Paradise'. This assemblage of strawberries from Japan, France, and Spain promises a mélange of sweet and acidic flavours of fromage blanc and bergamot.
If you don't drink alcohol, call for their luxurious tea pairing by sommelier Eric Eu. Handpicked from various tea plantations from Japan and around the world, this ingenious notion pairs beautifully with Béni's dishes. Best of all? No sickly sensation or hangover the next day, a state of mind we deeply appreciate this festive season.
For more information, visit Béni. Béni's festive eight-course degustation menu is available at $278++ per person, from 22-25 December and 29-31 December.
#02-37, 333A Orchard Road, Mandarin Gallery, Tel: 9159 3177
Opening hours: 12-3pm, 7-10pm