What: Highly-acclaimed Chef Kenjiro 'Hatch' Hashida of Japanese fine dining restaurant Hashida Sushi has launched two new concepts at Mandarin Gallery: Beni, an intimate and upmarket French restaurant with Japanese sensibilities; and Hashida Garo, a creative space specializing in wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) teamed with some exquisite Japanese teas.
What to expect: As its namesake Garo ('gallery' in Japanese) suggests, the dining space doubles up as an art gallery, and surrounds a raised tatami stage where guests may enjoy refined Japanese tea ceremonies performed by a resident tea master.
There is also a separate retail section selling seasonal Japanese produce and a selection of rare Japanese sake.
Menu: Besides the assortment of meticulously plated Japanese desserts, Garo also offers up Otsumami (small plates usually paired with alcohol) as well as some fine Japanese fare for lunch and dinner. Chef Hatch has also shared that they are currently working on a takeaway service.
Short-form review: If you've had enough of humdrum Japanese cafes (and their subpar tea and desserts), you have got to come down to this new concept where sweets and tea are taken damn seriously.
Must-tries: Menu highlights include the signature Foie Gras Macaron ($12)—its full-flavoured, savoury foie gras mousse ingeniously accentuated with an artful dash of raspberry powder—the Yubeshi ($5), a delightfully zesty Japanese dessert of yuzu and white bean, and the Hokkaido Soft Cream ($5.50).
The soft cream is available in three flavours, but go for Kabosu version (comes with a side of kabosu juice and a base Kabosu sorbet). Kabosu juice has this distinct lemony-tartness that really adds to the complexity of this dulcet dessert.
Also notable are the inviting and flavoursome Unagi Ippon ($19.80), and the value-packed, new style onigiri Oz-onigirazu ($22)—both accompanied with assorted pickles and miso soup.
If you're looking to impress, there is the Extravagant Lunch Set ($90, only available from 12-3pm) that comes with Miyazaki Wagyu A5 tenderloin served on a hot volcanic rock, chef's choice of appetiser (they have a superb potato salad), choice of the day's dessert and a cup of matcha.
Pretty worth it actually, especially since a cup of thick and intense matcha at Hashida Garo—each cup prepared from powder of specially grown and harvested quality tea leaves, then presented by the tea master—is priced at $30 per cup.
Address: Mandarin Gallery #04-16, 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238897. Tel: +65 6235 2283 Operating hours: 11am to 10pm, Closed alternate Mondays.