After a six-year tenure at Marina Bay Sands, Caffé B relocated to a corner shophouse on a cul-de-sac off the aptly named Club Street pubbing and dining thoroughfare. While the restaurant’s name is somewhat humble, it is anything but. The three-story heritage building has been transformed into a chic, contemporary dining and drinks destination, housing a well-stocked bar on the ground floor, an intimate dining room on the upper floor and a private 12- seater event space in the loft.
The new location saw the appointment of Chief Adviser Masanao Saito to rejuvenate Caffé B’s menu. Born in Tokyo and brought up in a family of artistic talents in Saitama, Chef Saito’s passion for his work shines through clearly as he shared enthusiastically with us his in-house fermentation experiments, inspired by the Noma Guide to Fermentation, co-written by renown Nordic chef, Rene Redzepi.
Chef Saito has developed and refined his culinary techniques over his career: starting as part-time kitchen help in an izakaya in Japan at age 15 and rising to the position of personal chef to a Japan Ambassador of Sweden, and culminating with stints at Hanashizuku and 999.99 in Singapore before helming Caffé B.
This review covers the omakase menu, melding my experiences at a private media invitation by Chef Saito and a subsequent dinner that I hosted there. Chef Saito’s sophisticated cooking style is not easy to categorise — you’ll be engaged by refined modern European flavours infused with Japanese influences and ingredients given an Italian touch.
Monaka with Sour cream with Lemon jelly, Botan Shrimp with Red daikon radish, Yuzu, and Tosazu jelly
Chef Masanao Saito
Scandinavia’s influence on Chef Saito’s extensive time there is evident in his cooking; fresh, light yet flavoursome — hallmarks of Nordic cuisine that are trending worldwide. The first salvo of the seven-course tasting menu was the Monaka amuse-bouche, a play on the popular Japanese sweet, served with two thin crisp wafers to sandwich the sour cream, lemon jam and micro cress mix instead of the typical azuki bean paste filling found in the sweet — perfect pairing for the bubbly. The Botan Shrimp that came next was served sashimi style, the rawness of the sweet crustacean tempered by the zesty tosazu jelly and yuzu dressing.
Left to right: Shogoin Turnip and Clam Soup, Uni Pasta, Orechiette with Baby squid and Nanohana
The Nordic influence on Chef Saito reared its head throughout the dinner: the rendering of the Shogoin Turnip Soup — a piece of tender sea cucumber sitting in a sweet Asari clam broth that carried a hint of the tartness from the Kyoto turnip, topped with a spoonful of gleaming caviar sprinkled with aromatic shisho flowers — had all the fresh ingredients forming a harmonious combination that tantalised.
Next came the pasta, which was executed authentically al dente on both my visits. The Nanohana Orechiette was served with supple baby squids and Japanese broccoli in a tasty emulsion. On my second visit, the Uni Pasta was equally delectable; simply dressed with truffle oil, Kyushu soy sauce and yuzu, and garnished with a dollop of luscious sea urchin.