With more than 20 years of history, BOTAN Japanese Restaurant at Far East Square has recently gotten award-winning Chef Thomas Kok with 40 years of culinary experience to helm the kitchen.
Ingredients are imported from Japan. Prices start from S$10++ for starter; S$35++ for main course; S$7++for dessert; and $68++ for an affordable seasonal omakase.
As starters, the fugu mirin boshi (grilled marinated dried pufferfish, $15++) tastes like bak kwa (sweet BBQ pork) and would go very well with beer.
Ikura onsen (S$15++), Japan-imported egg with salmon roe, is rather bland, easily replicated at home, and, I think, doesn’t justify the price tag. It only makes me crave for Yakun.
The assorted sashimi (3 kinds at S$48++, 5 kinds at S$88++) includes otoro aburi (seared tuna belly), salmon belly, hirame (flounder), kanpachi (amberjack), and whole Isaki fish (additional charge at market price). It’s a nice array of varying intensity that would please people with light or heavy palates.
Otoro is usually my favourite, but the salmon belly here is incised multiple times to allow a larger surface area for soy sauce to permeate, allowing salt and fat to produce the umami joy.
Like the onsen egg, the bland ikura chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg with salmon roe, S$13++) yields little return for the money.
The Kuruma ebi mentaiyaki (grilled fresh Japanese Tiger prawn with mentaiko, S$18++) is fresh, and the creamy mentaiko sauce is heavy-handed, which I like, but may come across as overly salty to some people.
Honey black pepper grilled Hokkaido pork (S$18++) uses sustainable yume no daichi “snow-white” pigs which are bred from 4 varieties of pigs (Landrace, LargeWhite, Duroc, and Berkshire). It is a more sweet, not at all peppery, dish whose fats dissolve in the mouth but don’t leave a feeling of excess.
A5 Miyazaki Kuroge Wagyu Beef (S$80++ for 100g) is good too. Has a little bite–which I prefer–and still very tender and succulent.
I only tried four of the sushi: otoro uni (tuna belly with sea urchin), hotate (scallop, 2 pcs $16++), crispy maki (deep-fried salmon roll with furikake and tobiko, S$16++), and kanpachi (amberjack) belly with caviar.
They are unimpressive, compared to the cooked dishes. The shari rice is cold, making the sushi flaccid. The fish toppings do not or cannot express their fullest flavours.
Nagasaki sara udon (deep-fried thin noodles with mixed vegetables, pork, seafood and gravy, S$16++) is much like our 生面, dried uncooked noodles with gravy. I don’t like starchy gravy although the flavours are light and pleasant.
There are some hits and misses here. Avoid anything with eggs here because they are expensive using Japanese eggs. To be honest, eggs taste mostly the same everywhere, so using Japanese eggs drives up the price but doesn’t justify the utility. The sushi do not do well–cold and lack flavour.
However, other dishes are stellar, especially the Hokkaido pork and Miyazaki wagyu, which would go well with alcohol. Judging from most of the workers around the area who imbibe alcohol excessively, BOTAN is a good place to mix food and alcohol.
BOTAN Japanese Restaurant
36-37 Pekin Street, #01-01, Far East Square, Singapore 048766
tel: 6536 4404 / 9823 1939
Weekdays 11.30am – 2.15pm, 5.45pm – 10pm
Weekends 11.30am – 2pm, 5.45pm – 9.30pm
Price / value: 6/10
Decor / ambience: 6/10
You may be interested in…
–Monte Risaia, Duxton: New Itameshi (Japanese-Italian) Omakase by Marusaya group
–Akira Back, South Beach: Excellent Japanese-Inspired Food Made Better by Amazing Service
–TEN Sushi by Marusaya, Robertson Quay: For Late-night Sushi Cravings
–Naga Imo, Club Street: Omakase on the First Storey, Izakaya on the Second
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.