The 6 year-old Caffe B has moved from Marina Bay Sands to a three-storey historical shophouse along Club Street. While the MBS outlet is dark and almost gothic with velvet curtains and checkered floor, the new restaurant is modern with clean lines, playing on puns. The interior designer interpreted the “B” in Caffe B as “bee,” repeating motifs of hexagons (like beehive) throughout the restaurant in chairs, shelves, tealight holders.
On the first floor is the bar, which serves cocktails and Italian wines. Excellent are the sake cucumber ($22) and ume gin ($23), both sweet as how I like my cocktails. On the third floor, there is a private space for a table of 12 (no minimum spending) that would be great for a small birthday party. The decor is very impressive: classy without pretension.
With the move, there is a change of chef. Chef Masanao SAITO has an impressive resume of working for Michelin-starred restaurants to being the Japanese ambassador’s chef in Sweden. His stint before this was at Five Nines.
They still, however, serve the same Itameshi cuisine. “Ita” is “Italian” and “meshi” means food in Japanese. Itameshi used to refer to traditional Italian cuisine but these days, it also means Italian cuisine using Japanese ingredients, or the Japanese interpretation of Italian food.
And the food is fantastic, much better than the last time I visited at MBS.
For appetisers, definitely must order the farmer’s egg, which is at an incredible price of $12. I DETEST hipster eggs served in dry ice sold at extravagant prices but this is nothing like that. The yolk sits at the bottom, topped with a creamy clam espuma, substituting the egg white; caviar; sea urchin; gold (my favourite colour!); lemon-chive jam; and edible flowers. It has layers of flavours, heavy with umami. It’s complex but also easy on the tongue. One of the best things I ate this year.
More flowers are featured in the Italian burrata cheese ($18) that is served with three types of tomatoes, lemon peel, tomato jelly, and basil. On the bottom, there is a Genovese sauce (onion-based sauce usually for pasta), which (I dunno why) tastes like pesto. This is visually stunning as it is delicious. The combination is common enough but the freshness and exquisiteness of the ingredients make this dish fantastic. This is another must-order.
The tuna carpaccio ($16) comes with champagne foam, ikura, and more flowers. This one is ok to us.
While the appetisers are fantastic, the mains are slightly salty for us. We had something of a cross between squid ink pasta and vongole. The fresh live Japanese clams are superbly fresh, and they amplify the umami with Italian tomatoes. The curly Japanese squid has a fun texture, and we appreciate them using local chives. Would have been a competent dish if it is less salty.
Similarly, like the pasta, the wagyu al porto ($38) is too salty. But if you scrap off the veal jus, the striploin is nicely cooked. It has a nice bite; I really hate those melt-in-the-mouth texture these days. And, as every dish here which always has an umami component, the beef is accompanied with mushroom tapenade and miso powder. The potato is so fat we suspect there is more cream than carbs, and it is divine.
Considering the immense effort put into each dish, and how complex and creative the elements of each dish come together as a whole, the pricing of the food is rather competitive. When time has passed, we will remember the egg and the burrata.
64 Club St, Singapore 069438
tel: +65 8218 7751
3pm – 12am, closed Sun
You may be interested in…
–Terra, Tras Street: Serving Itameshi (Italo-Japanese) Cuisine, Or As the Chef Brands it As “Tokyo-Italian”
–Ristorante Luka, Tanjong Pagar: Excellent Italian Food by Japanese Chef Takashi Okuno
–Amo Restaurant, Hong Kong Street: Excellent Pizzas and Sharing Plates, Best for After-Work and Adult Gatherings
–Cicheti, Kampong Glam: Can a Singaporean Chinese Cook Italian Food?
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.