Restaurant review: Binary, a meeting place of eastern and western flavours at Palais Renaissance

Instagram/binary0101.sg

Branded as a gastrobar with Asian and Western flavours, it would be easy to mistake Binary for one of Singapore’s many east-meets-west fusion concepts. But a flick through the menu of this fresh face on Orchard Road and we’re quickly proven wrong. Far from marrying cuisines together, Binary brings them into comfortable cohabitation – each dish here is a duality, served up in contrasting styles.

Set off the beaten track in Palais Renaissance, this 45-seater is a sleek affair – curved walls of blonde timber, marble-topped tables, and an alfresco terrace for watching the world go by. Aptly, its unit number recalls a binary code of zeroes and ones: #01-01A. But the main inspiration for Binary’s name comes from the concept of a binary star. Two stars, orbiting round a common center – so closely that they seem like one star to the naked eye.

This concept translates well to the food menu, where nearly every dish comes in dual versions. In the mood for Cheese ($18)? Tuck into the Italian indulgence of deep-fried burrata, or opt for its Indian alter-ego, tandoori paneer – a milky, chewy snack of battered cheese cubes marinated in spiced yoghurt.

Craving Chicken Wings ($18)? You can go Western with buffalo wings, or get your hit of spice nasi lemak-style. Think crisp wings marinated with spices like ginger, turmeric, and cumin, plus a side of homemade sambal tumis.

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Picking favourites is inevitable – but that’s all part of the fun. For bread, the Tomato Bruschetta ($14) is a refreshing heap of diced tomatoes on baguette toast, balanced by the tangy sweetness of sour plum-infused cherry tomatoes.

It’s tasty, but swiftly outshone once the Homemade Kubaneh Bread ($14) hits our table. This Yemenite Jewish classic features rolls that pull apart in divinely fluffy, buttery folds – and with a slick of garlic butter, it’s downright moan-inducing. The process behind it is a labour-intensive one that calls for repeated kneading, so you can bet we savoured every mouthful.

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At heart, Binary stays true to comfort classics from East and West, dished up without too much of a twist. Tiger Prawns ($18) come as Asian-style prawn fritters or the Spanish classic of gambas al ajillo; we opt for the latter, and are rewarded with sweet, meaty prawns smothered in garlic and olive oil.

For the Octopus ($28) – grilled a la plancha to a crisp outside and tender insides – it’s a tough call between pesto alla genovese and Lao Gan Ma chili crisp. The Chinese-style choice proves satisfying even for non-spice lovers, with the chili punch mellowed out with fermented black bean sauce and black vinegar.

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For mains ($38 each), there’s the Iberico Pluma paired with either chimichurri or gochujang. The Korean rendition features somewhat dry Iberico pork marinated in a gochujang blend, then served alongside all the fixings for our own DIY lettuce wrap: green coral lettuce, chopped kimchi, and spicy ssamjang.

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Save some space for the sides ($14 each) – the Mushroom Fritti offers a light, peppery crunch with deep-fried oyster mushrooms battered in karaage flour, while the Parmesan Bacon Cauliflower is deliciously blanketed in parmesan, breadcrumbs, and chopped garlic.

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The dessert selection is similarly small but stellar. You can play it safe with a classic Homemade Fudgey Brownie, but we recommend the quirkier Hong Kong Egglet ($16) instead. This Hong Kong street snack is freshly made in-house, but the 15-minute wait is all worth it when the crisp, fragrant egg waffles arrive. It’s even more delightful topped off with a scoop of sea salt ice-cream and tangy yuzu jam.

With affordable prices and an unusual menu approach, Binary makes for an ideal first date spot – just think of all the conversation your food choices could kickstart.

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For folks stopping by for a drink, they’ve also got a stash of over 60 wines at pocket-friendly prices, as well as wines by the glass from $16. Or grab a pint of the Binary Craft Brew ($16), a smooth, light-bodied cream ale created exclusively for the gastrobar by local brewery Rye & Pint.

Binary is located at 390 Orchard Rd, Palais Renaissance #01-01A, Singapore 238871, p. +65 9363 0101. Open daily 11.30am–10.30pm.

This article was first published in City Nomads.