It’s a bittersweet piece, this one, with it being my last one for this publication. I’ve made a career here at SethLui.com for almost 4.5 years, and I’ve eaten my way through good, bad, and knocked-the-ball-out-of-the-park excellent food. That afternoon at Binary, I’m glad I had the chance to dig into a final work meal that I can assure you is worth putting on your must-eat list.
Now, don’t confuse Binary with a fusion restaurant—it really isn’t. What they’ve done is take humble ingredients and prepare them in both Western and Asian styles, so no one needs to sulk over the ‘there’s nothing for me to eat’ conundrum. Making the just-renovated Palais Renaissance their home, the space is an all-day dining nook that is centrally located along Orchard Road, but removed from the hustle that can sometimes plague a casual catch-up.
What I tried
There’s nothing more inviting than warm, fluffy bread served to the table to start a meal. It’s even better when the bread is so good on its own, I can ignore the provision of kombu butter and garlic butter—repetitive kneading and resting of the dough, followed by a generous brush of unsalted butter is to blame here.
It’s just my not-so-subtle way of convincing you to order the Homemade Kubaneh Bread (S$14) because you very well might order a second portion if you’re not ready to flex your ‘fastest hands first’ technique. Just try and remember to save some for later, because it certainly proved itself handy in sopping up the delicious mess of the Tiger Prawns (Gambas Al Ajillo) (S$18).
“What’s so great about prawns tossed in garlic and olive oil?”, you ask. It’s simplicity; not every bride needs to don a frock decked in lace and tulle, and wear a three-metre veil with a crown to be regarded as the belle of the ball.
This is when less is really more and when everything’s executed with precision, it’s amazing how content we can be with so little.
Cheese? Check. Deep-fried? Check. Greasy? Not at all—and thank God. There’s nothing remotely cloying, in fact, about Cheese (Deep-fried Burrata) (S$18). Just wading in a shallow puddle of pesto, it possesses everything to love about texture.
The stark contrast between oozing, creamy burrata and cracked panko crust is the stuff of any kid’s dreams—or at least my childhood desires. This is just an adult-ified version, with a bed of pesto to signal that we’ve grown to acknowledge the importance of vegetables in our diet.
Don’t regard Octopus (“Lao Gan Ma Chilli” Crisp) (S$28) simply as ‘mala octopus’. Just, no.
For one, it’s not meant to set your tongue on fire. Secondly, there’s a magical subtlety in the preparation that allows one to appreciate and acknowledge the octopus as an ingredient. It’s not merely a stir-fry toss of chillies; the grilled octopus is lovingly caressed by Lao Gan Ma spicy chilli crisp, fermented black bean sauce, soy sauce, black vinegar, teng jiao oil (Sichuan green pepper oil), and sugar.
If you were smart enough to set aside more Kubaneh Bread from earlier, now would be an opportune time to use that as a shovel and deliver every last tittynope of sauce to your mouth.
Remember when I said Binary prizes ingredients and offers two cultural presentations of them? Well, the Iberico Pluma (Korean Gochujang) (S$38) is one of these options you have to try. It’s an uncommon sight in a non-Korean restaurant to see Iberico cooked this way—at least to me—so, when they hit the nail on the head with this one, I couldn’t stop grabbing lettuce wraps to satiate my carnal cravings.
What I liked most was that, despite the protein being notoriously seen as “heavy” meat, the gochujang really helped postpone the onset of food coma; I could easily ready myself for dessert.
How could I have never enjoyed a Hong Kong Egglet (S$16) before? Oh, right, because I admittedly don’t chase trends. But here I am, years later, only catching my first taste of it at Binary.
I don’t have a benchmark of how good this is on a scale of unedible to ‘must eat every time I pass by here’, but I can understand the appeal of this cute, bubbly dessert/snack. It’s served with sea salt ice cream, chocolate pop rocks, and yuzu jam if you’re in the mood to jazz it up. If not, it’s absolutely delightful solo.
To round off my final work meal at Binary was just the cherry on top of my time here at SethLui.com. But that aside, it’s really worth a second visit if you’re curious about my real sentiments regarding the food.
I would be so gratified with just the Kubaneh Bread and Tiger Prawns (Gambas Al Ajillo), and if I came with a miserly appetite, it might just be what I order when I return.
Expected damage: S$25 – S$35 per pax
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