By: Richard Lenton
After a long afternoon watching your other half spending money like it’s gone out of fashion at Marina Bay Shoppes, the natural instinct is to jump in a cab and get as far way from the place as soon as is humanly possible. However, next time you’re forced to endure such purgatory, cheer yourself up with a post-shopping trip to Caffe B and tuck into some stunning fare that marries the best of Italian culinary traditions with the artful finesse of Japanese culture. If you’ve got any dollars left, that is.
The atmosphere is relaxed, the feel is casual and friendly, but the food is opulent. The high-end fare is perfectly accompanied by a series of exclusive wines from the il Pollenza estate, situated near the Macerata hills in Tolentino, Italy, but before you crack onto the vino, kick things off with mixologist Michael Kumar’s signature cocktails. Well, when in Rome. Or Tokyo.
Inspired by the delicate portions and presentation of Japanese kaiseki-style cuisine, we kicked off with the Antipasti Degustation Style, which features an assortment of six small appetisers, the highlights being the San Daniele ham with sweet melon caviar and the aburi tuna and black caviar.
The grilled artichoke with balsamic pearls with its lightly smoky and tart flavour was intriguing, while the smoked tofu with teriyaki powder and Italian coriander salad topped with parmigiana was robust in flavour and silky in texture.
The highlight for me, although not my wheat-intolerant other half, was the black squid ink pasta, which boasted layers of flavour that continued to build as I devoured the dish. My good lady’s personal favourite was fresh baked Chilean cod in a lightly sweet miso reduction, served with crunchy broccolini and crispy garlic flakes; while my pasta was all about tradition with a twist, this dish was original and daring.
We then enjoyed a tender lamb loin, cleverly accompanied by a crunchy bean salad and sweet breads drizzled with a salty-sweet teriyaki mint butter sauce. A few years ago, chefs would toss things like sweet breads into the nearest bin; now it’s a badge of honour to be able to make fabulous tasting food out of all manner of ingredients. And rightly so.
A memorable meal was completed with an Espresso Matcha Degustation, a deconstructed green tea cheesecake featuring a sweet, grainy base, accompanied by rich matcha mousse, smooth azuki bean jelly and dollops of light azuki bean sauce. It almost crossed the line into the realms of pretentiousness, but, after the fare he’d served up beforehand, chef is forgiven.