Unfortunately I’m now a year older and inching ever closer to being 30. In another two years I can’t even call myself a tween anymore. In fact, I still miss being a teen sometimes. Oh well, one of the good things about birthdays is that it provides a good excuse to go out for a good meal! One of the places recommended by a friend happened to be Dozo and we ourselves were swayed once we saw the amazing looking pictures on the website.
Dozo claims to be “Fine Modern Japanese”, featuring “the best of Japanese, French and European cuisine with an emphasis on how each dish is presented”. Their menu style is also slightly different, having no ala carte option. Instead, one will have to accept their 7 course set for dinner, or 6 courses for lunch; not really a problem for us but I do wonder how people with smaller appetites will cope.
While we were deliberating over our choices (a healthy range of about 5 choices per course) and nibbling the bread sticks (actually we’re not certain it’s actually bread as it seemed a bit similar to deep fried angel hair pasta), a waiter came over and helpfully explained some of the more popular dishes at Dozo. After we made our choices, a little glass of yuzu sorbet was given. Truthfully, I liked the idea of the palate cleanser before a meal, but found it a bit too sweet; letting the tangy yuzu flavour being more pronounced would be better.
Course 1: Starter: “Chef’s Selection of Assorted Platter”
We were advised to start with the scallop in the middle, with yuzu foam and asparagus. Truthfully, it sounded better than it actually was, as the scallop was a bit tasteless and similarly was the yuzu foam. The foie gras with raisin sauce on top of bread was much better. Last on the right was a roll of smoked salmon topped with cream cheese and leek.
Course 2: Side Dish: “Gratinated Escargots topped with Yuzu Butter”.
Along with this plate came the advice to start with the escargot in the shell first as it was more delicate in flavouring. The escargot was actually quite sizable and really tender but the yuzu butter was quite mild. Inside the black bowl was the gratinated version. Underneath the layer of cheese were 3 escargots and surprisingly, salad cream. The combination actually worked quite well together and the salad cream + cheese made it nicely rich.
Course 2: Side Dish: “Foie Gras Chawanmushi topped with Black Truffle Slice”.
Unfortunately, we didn’t see the slice of black truffle, instead the chawanmushi only had a slice of mushroom within. Neither was there a slice of foie gras but there’s a good reason for that as the foie gras was (probably) blended and mixed into the egg mixture to form a sort of foie gras in egg infusion. I thought it was a bit too delicate and would have preferred the foie gras flavour to be more hard-hitting, but the PigPig loved it.
Course 3: Soup: “Clam Soup”.
Unlike clam chowder, this soup has a tomato and saffron base to it making it a rather light slurp. It was very sweet and the two clams within were definitely slurp-worthy.
Course 3: Soup: “Crab Bisque Cappucino style”.
This was a totally different beast compared to the other soup. This bisque was very rich, creamy and frothed up (hence the ‘cappuccino style’) but was as equally tasty as the clam soup. My only problem with bisque in all my experiences so far is the ever so slight bitter tinge to it.
Course 4: Main: “Beef Tenderloin on ‘Pu-Ye’ and Granite Hot Stone”.
The ‘Pu-Ye’ referred to the slightly charring leaf the beef sits upon. From what we could tell, the beef was seared on both sides at first, but left upon the hot stone to cook depending on our preferences.
The meat itself was pretty tasty albeit mildly seasoned; but then there was an accompanying horseradish sauce to go with it so there was plenty of flavour overall. The fried shallot garnishing added a mild layer of aroma to it as well. However, I wasn’t too keen on the edible ‘fan’ made from deep-fried angel hair pasta: nice idea but too oily for me and relatively tasteless. All in all though, the beef was great as the texture had a quite spectacular bounciness and was very well flavoured.
Course 4: Main: “Kurubuta Pork Cheek with Onion Jam”.
With a vein of fat running through the pork cheek and a (un)healthy slab of fat over it, this was a tender piece to begin with but the chefs worked their magic to make it truly melt-in-your-mouth tender. A knife is not needed here. The crust made from rosemary, thyme, basil and chervil as well as breadcrumbs or panko provided the crunchy texture while the salad cream underneath provided not just more flavour but extra fatty silkiness. While the combination was really tasty, the salad cream’s flavour was strong and rendered the onion jam relatively useless.
Course 5: Drink: “Green Apple Mocktail; Iced Grapefruit Glory”.
Both drinks can be summed up as: too sweet. While they were quite nice and refreshing, there was far too much sugar inside and there wasn’t a balance to it. I think we both preferred our (free) hot tea; it had a slight but distinctive wild berries flavour that made it quite unique.
Course 6: Dessert: “Dozo’s Freshly Baked Warm Chocolate”.
In simple terms, this was a chocolate fondant that worked really well, with lovely gooey chocolate inside. The vanilla ice cream seemed strangely a little on the light side though.
Course 6: Dessert: “French Cream Cheese Cake”.
A bit like the fondant where there were little cookie crumbs scattered about, this plate had bits of pistachio scattered about. The cheesecake served were more like little blocks cut out of a bigger baked piece while the pistachio served as its ‘base’. The cheesecake was actually quite good although I wish there was a bit more to it.
The PigPig made the reservation and must’ve tipped off Dozo that it was my birthday so they kindly brought out a little carrot cake/muffin for us. The muffin itself was quite nice but the cream cheese on top was a bit strange and foamy.
Altogether, the bill for the two of us was $93.70 for the two set lunches (birthday cake was free). Service throughout was quite good and attentive but to be fair, it was only half-full while we were there.
Overall, the meal was of pretty high quality. The portion size certainly doesn’t look very large but we were both quite full at the end. I felt that both mains could’ve used a starch-based aspect (potato, rice, pasta, etc) beside it. Also, while the salad cream was a really good twist to both the pork and the escargot, it almost felt a bit ‘unfair’ and that the chef was ‘cheating’ slightly to use such an ingredient in fine dining cuisine
Best bit: the pork cheeks.
Worst bit: the two drinks. And of course, the location.
#02-02/03 Valley Point Shopping Centre
491 River Valley Road
Tel: +65 6838 6966