Kang had been wanting to try B @ Rochester for some time, so when the time came to deciding the dinner venue for our monthly meet-ups, we let him take the lead and followed him out west to Rochester Park.
Rochester is no longer the crazy and overcrowded dining enclave that it used to be. The hoards have diminished and instead, descended on the Dempsey, and Duxton dining clusters. Where parking used to be a bitch, it's now relatively easy to find available lots. (A tip is to park at Rochester Mall, it's free in the evenings!) I much prefer it this way, less crowds, less congestion and a much more intimate dining experience.
B @ Rochester, a 1-year young restaurant that serves up French-Japanese fusion cuisine, is celebrating its 1st anniversary with a specially crafted 6-course Set Dinner at $88 per person. In all, the meal was good, and in fact, more than decent, but there was just something lacking. Comparing it to heavyweights such as Ember, Bistro Soori (but only for dinners) and Buko Nero, I've found that it's just lacking in that extra spark, that extra something that makes the meal pop. The finishing of the dishes just lacked that particular finesse and masterful execution.
That said, we genuinely liked the service, the chef and head waiter were very down-to-earth, almost homey, and chatted us up like old friends.
The dinner kicked off with the starter of Maguro Carpaccio seasoned with crisp garlic chips and served with a side of French dressed-mixed mesclun, topped with shredded daikon and wakame. Nice searing on the tuna, not the freshest but more than passable as the wonderfully fragrant garlic chips helped disguise the less-than-super-freshness of the tuna.
The Homemade French Onion Consomme served with mentai toast and amaebi, was a delightful twist from the typical French onion soup. The wait staff arrived at our table to pour in a shrimp-sweetened broth over the onions, which had been fried to a fragrant crisp and plated with a deshelled prawn. A most pleasant presentation, and my favourite dish of the night. The fried onions lent a rounded, robust and roasted element to the soup.
The Pan-Seared Royale of Foie Gras was melt-on-the-tongue and seared to a caramelized outer crust, layered on top of a crispy homemade chawanmushi that was incredibly smooth. A light drizzling of passionfruit sauce provided a refreshingly fruity accent while ikura lent their characteristic seaburst flavours.
The Baked Nasu Dengkaku with Escargot in aka-dashi miso was badly executed. I may not be a connoisseur of escargot, or even a lover of one, but even i could tell that they were overcooked. Rubbery instead of soft and chewy, these should have been taken out of the oven at least 5 minutes prior. A lot more potential but fell far short.
The Squid Ink Pasta stir-fried in wafu sauce with pan-seared alaskan cod and sakura ebi was enlivened by the plentiful mesclun greens. Al dente pasta, moist fish and the tiny salty shrimp provided just enough flavour to the dish.
The Umeshu Sorbet with puree of passionfruit, blueberry, pomelo and pomegranate seeds was a very nice way to round off the dinner. It was light, icy cold and tangy, with clean and clear flavours, great for cleansing the palate.
We got some ala carte dishes to supplement our set dinners. The Mekajiki, Sake and Maguro Sashimi ($18) from left to right, swordfish, salmon and tuna sashimi, was disappointing despite the pretty presentation. They just weren't fresh enough, and it was particularly evident with the swordfish, which reeked of fishy elements.
We liked the set dinner starter, and got an ala carte portion of the Maguro Carpaccio ($18), seared black pepper-encrusted tuna served with shredded daikon, crispy garlic chips and wafu dressing.
8 Rochester Park
Tel: 6778 1788
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch, 6pm to 11pm for dinner
Closed on Sundays