French fare, the Japanese way

(From left) Beni's sous chef Hiroyuki Shinkai, sommelier Hiromi Muraoka, head chef Kenji Yamanaka and pastry chef Naoyuki Tanoue.
(From left) Beni's sous chef Hiroyuki Shinkai, sommelier Hiromi Muraoka, head chef Kenji Yamanaka and pastry chef Naoyuki Tanoue.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Japanese fine dining restaurant Hashida Sushi is opening a French restaurant and also a dessert place

Two years after Japanese fine dining restaurant Hashida Sushi opened at Mandarin Gallery, its owners are expanding. They are opening a French restaurant and a dessert place in the same mall.

The 15-seat French restaurant Beni, which means red in Japanese, opens next month.

The Japanese team which runs it includes 40-year-old chef de cuisine Kenji Yamanaka, who specialises in French cuisine and has worked in three-Michelin-starred restaurants Georges Blanc Parc & Spa in Vonnas, France, and L'Osier in Tokyo, Japan.

He also ran a private dining outfit called Sma Blomman (Swedish for small flower) for a year before closing it in February to move to Singapore. Sous chef Hiroyuki Shinkai, 42, worked with him at L'Osier and is also trained in French cuisine.

Rounding up the team is pastry chef Naoyuki Tanoue, 29, who headed the dessert kitchen of Miyakojima Tokyu Resort in Okinawa, and is trained in Western desserts.

The restaurant features two set menus, priced at $128 for lunch and $298 for a dinner degustation.

The degustation menu features blue lobster, foie gras, as well as Ozaki wagyu, which is available in limited quantities in Japan.

On specialising in Ozaki wagyu, chef Yamanaka says through a translator: "Many people think that Japanese chefs know only how to cook fish. But we also want to highlight our meats."

The beef, he adds, has a robust flavour and takes well to roasting.

For dessert, chef Tanoue has created Chocolate Beni, a white chocolate sphere encasing rose jelly and meringue.

To drink, there is an exclusive selection of Royal Blue Tea, a semi-fermented Japanese tea that comes in a wine bottle and is served cold in wine glasses.

Sommelier Hiromi Muraoka, 36, who has worked at The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo's French restaurant Azure 45 for the last seven years, pairs the French fare at Beni with the tea, as well as sake and wine.

Diners can also watch the chefs in action.

Chef Yamanaka says: "Usually in French restaurants, diners cannot see how the chefs work. There are a lot of French restaurants in Singapore, but our technique and skills are Japanese. We want diners in Singapore to experience that."

Opening next Friday is Hashida Garo, which specialises in traditional Japanese sweets known as wagashi, paired with Japanese tea.

Garo, which means gallery in Japanese, will be headed by Hashida Sushi's chef Kenjiro Hashida, 36.

A tatami platform takes centrestage in the 20-seat dining space, which has a retail section selling seasonal Japanese produce. The space also serves as an art gallery.

  • Hashida Garo opens next Friday at 04-16 Mandarin Gallery. Call 6235-2283 for reservations. Next month, Beni opens at the same mall, at 04-16B. Call 9159-3177 for advance bookings.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline 'French fare, the Japanese way'. Print Edition | Subscribe