When new gastro-bar Binary told us they take on a “binary approach” that features both Asian and Western cuisine, I thought I’d be looking at a “fusion” restaurant that combines both styles into one dish.
And the word “fusion” makes me anxious, maybe because I have had my share of bad experiences with it.
But “fusion” isn’t what Binary is going for. And I appreciated it better after I learnt about the inspiration behind its name.
“Binary” pays tribute to the binary star: two stars orbiting in such close proximity to each other that they appear like one single star to the unaided eye.
What Binary offers is certainly not “fusion”; instead, it brings classic recipes from both Asian and Western kitchens, offering both flavours at their dynamic best while keeping them distinct.
For instance, if you’re craving chicken wings, you can pick either the Western-style buffalo wings or the Asian-style wings that are usually served in Nasi Lemak. Want a wagyu striploin? Savour one cooked with either red wine sauce, commonly seen in Western recipes, or Sake Miso Marinade, which is undoubtedly Asian.
As I stepped into Binary’s 45-seater space at Palais Renaissance in Orchard Road, I can’t help but felt welcomed quickly. With its warm and low lighting and comfortable seating, I can imagine myself bringing my husband or my girlfriends here for an intimate gathering.
The menu is kept relatively small, easy to navigate, which is great – I’ve always loved menus that are not intimidating and that I can go through in no time.
You’ll find three items from the Bread & Chips section, six types of small plates, three options of kebabs, three kinds of mains, six choices of sides, and four desserts to go for.
To kick off the media tasting session, I tried the Homemade Kubaneh Bread (S$14), served with Garlic Butter and Kombu Butter.
This pull-apart bread is well-loved in Israel and Syria and its texture is similar to a brioche-meets-dinner rolls. Served warm and soft like a good cushion, this was the best bread I’ve ever eaten – no, this is not a hyperbole.
The butters are made in-house and go so well with the bread that I find myself reaching out again and again for more bread. I had to stop and remind myself that this was only a starter and I had to save my appetite for more dishes.
If you ask me, this is certainly the one item you’ll need to order when you visit Binary.
Besides the bread, among the items that I got to try during the session, the Octopus (S$28) cooked with “Lao Gan Ma” chilli crisp stood out too. This is from its Small Plates selections.
I’ve eaten dishes that used the “Lao Gan Ma” chilli crisp – la mian, wonton, and even stir-fried vegetables – and I found that the sauce tended to give a great “homely” feel to the dishes.
It was interesting that the octopus dish at Binary was more elevated. This is likely attributed to the perfect cook that helped it retain its chewy texture; the octopus was moist and well-seasoned, while the chilli crisp offered a kick that wasn’t too overwhelming.
This is Binary’s Asian take on the octopus, and if you prefer a Western-style dish, you can choose the Octopus in pesto alla genovese.
Another dish that I really enjoyed was the Iberico Pluma (S$38) in Korean gochujang. one of the mains Binary serves.
It has a great sear and I was surprised by how the meat was able to retain its juiciness. After checking with Binary’s reps, I learnt that the secret was to sous vide the meat before grilling.
You can eat it together with the lettuce, kimchi, and garlic slices that are served on the same platter – the same way you’d eat meats at a Korean BBQ restaurant.
For a crowd-pleasing side dish for sharing, consider the Bacon Mac & Cheese (S$14), a delicious comfort food that you’ll find yourself digging into again and again.
And if you’re looking for a more unique dessert to end the meal with, consider the Hong Kong Egglet (S$16). It’s quite hard to find this popular street snack from Hong Kong in Singapore and Binary managed to get it right. This is served with a blue sea salt ice cream to give it an interesting twist.
Finally, you can’t talk about Binary without mentioning its extensive alcohol collection. Besides a huge wine selection, you can also look forward to sakes, cocktails, and craft beers that complement the food you order.
Binary is located at 390 Orchard Road, Palais Renaissance, #01-01A, SIngapore 238871. It’s open daily from 11.30am to 10.30pm. Call 9363 0101 or email [email protected] for reservations.