Official Website: http://www.dozo.com.sg/index.html
Address: 491 River Valley Road #02-02/03 Valley Point Shopping Centre
Opening Hours: 11.30am-2.30pm; 5.30pm-10pm (Daily)
Budget: $39.80++ or approx $47 inclusive of taxes (6-course Lunch); $59.80++ or approx. $70 inclusive of taxes (7-course Dinner)
Recommendations: Kurobuta Pork Cheek with Onion Jam and Freshly-Baked Warm Chocolate
It’s the time of the year to confess to your crush, commemorate and celebrate your relationship with your significant other or just to chill and hang out with your close friends – Valentine’s Day. Ah Boy usually survives on hawker fare and motherly meals, thus much more due diligence was required for this special occasion. As London Gal regularly surfs food porn, she recommended this place called Dozo, a French-Japanese fusion restaurant which offers 6 course meals for lunch and 7-courses for dinner.
Ah Boy made the reservation on Wed (for Fri lunch) and the staff who handled my reservation was very helpful. He also asked if LG and I were celebrating any special occasion, so that special arrangements could be put in place (which you will understand in due course).
Dozo is located at Valley Point Shopping Centre which is accessible by bus services 14, 32, 65, 139, 530 and 970. Since it is not located in the vicinity of any MRT stations (map here), I would recommend taking a cab from a nearby MRT station or via the bus services. Alternatively, driving would be ideal.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the warm hospitality of the various servers and the usual Japanese-style welcome (‘irasshaimase!’). We were also very impressed by the patience and assistance rendered by the helpful personnel who answered our questions and ensured that our needs were always attended to. Although we ate past their lunch hour, we did not feel pressurised to finish our food quickly, and enjoyed a reasonable degree of privacy since we were preoccupied with our own small talk and photo-taking (we felt very paisei i.e. overstayed our welcome after a while, so we left as soon as we could after finishing our food). Last but not least, Ben, the server who served the complimentary dish, happened to be the person who answered my reservation call previously and offered to take photos for us. Big thumbs up for service and I’d say it’s comparable to Michelin-starred restaurants which I’ve been to.
Before our orders were taken, ice-cold passion fruit sorbet in shot glasses were served (no alcoholic content though, merely for aesthetic purposes). It was sweet and refreshing, cleansing the palette and preparing us for the meal proper.
Chef’s Selection of Assorted Platter
The Starter was a Chef’s selection of assorted platter (amuse-bouche), comprising seared scallop with yuzu foam, pan-fried foie gras on bread and raisin and smoked salmon. To fully appreciate the nuanced flavours of the bite-sized portions, the platter should be eaten in the above order (ascending richness of flavours). The scallops were nicely cooked, although we felt that the scallops at Two Chefs were fresher and more succulent. The pan-fried foie gras was sufficiently moist and not overcooked at high flame. The smoked salmon was also different from what we had in Europe – thicker and very rich. Ah Boy enjoyed the foie gras most.
Gratinated Escargots topped with Yuzu Butter
Steamed Fresh Bamboo Clams
Ah Boy chose the escargots with Gratinated Escargots topped with Yuzu Butter while LG chose the Steamed Fresh Bamboo Clams. The escargots were melted in butter and cheese (probably mozzarella) and came with an additional serving of escargot cooked with herbs and garlic. In all, there were about 4-5 escargots altogether. As an avid lover of cheese, Ah Boy can’t really tell you if the cheese was superior; but if you’re a cheesy person like me, you should enjoy it as much as I did – notwithstanding the generous amount of escargots served. Value-for-money indeed. LG’s Steam Bamboo clam was served with pearl onion and alfafa sprouts. I personally felt that the clam would taste better if served warm, but it was nevertheless a nicely-plated dish.
Infusion of Cèpes Mushroom with truffle
Japanese Miso Soup
Next up, Ah Boy chose the Infusion of Cèpes Mushroom with truffle, which was served with about 2g of truffle and drips of truffle oil; while LG chose the Japanese Miso Soup. Truffle is known to be more expensive than gold and just this almost negligible amount of truffle is enough to excite Ah Boy. Indeed, the truffle was very smooth and left a very aromatic after taste in the palette. Unfortunately Ah Boy was too carried away, so no photos were taken – but you can view them here. The cream itself was added with generous amounts of cèpes bits and sufficiently broiled to give a distinctive aroma. Very pleasing on the palette. LG’s Japanese Miso soup with Japanese seaweed was also very clear and soothing, although it seemed rather ordinary.
Kurobuta Pork Cheek with Onion Jam
For the main course, Ah Boy chose the Kurobuta Pork Cheek with Onion Jam while LG chose the Seafood Platter with scallops, mussels and half lobster with saffron sauce. It was my first time eating pork cheeks and I was very impressed. The pork cheek was deep-fried and encrusted in fine bread crumbs and herbs, yet retained its soft and tender texture while remaining chewy at the same time. It was so tender that I almost mistook them for fats. Obviously Ah Boy must have lived in the wilderness as a mountain tortoise for too long (suaku) – but pardon me since it is my first time eating it.
On the other hand, LG’s seafood platter was a little below average. The half lobster was cooked to awesome richness as the flesh had absorbed the essence of the saffron sauce. Very juicy, fresh and succulent. The side-kicks, namely the scallops and mussels were however average (they were slightly overcooked, resulting in a tough texture). Nevertheless, it is still a dish worth ordering considering the serving.
Iced Fruity Refresher (front) and hot Roselle rhythm (behind)
Before dessert was served, drinks were served. I ordered the Iced Fruity Refresher while LG ordered the hot Roselle rhythm. The Iced Fruity Refresher is a signature drink which came with assorted fruits such as diced apples and pineapple. For the health-conscious like LG, the hot tea may seem a better choice, since sugar syrup was pre-added to the fruit mix.
Freshly-Baked Warm Chocolate Cake served with Ice Cream
Japanese Mochi served with matcha (green tea) ice cream
Finally, the long-awaited dessert arrived. Ah Boy’s Freshly-Baked Warm Chocolate Cake was served fresh from the oven with vanilla ice-cream. Upon the first slice, chocolate goodness oozed out of the lava cake, immediately titillating my taste buds. As a self-professed chocolate lover with a very serious sweet tooth issue, the chocolate lava cake definitely sealed the deal. However, it was not unparalleled per se, as any artisan chocolate cafe should be able to serve lava cake comparable to the one at Dozo. Nevertheless, it definitely concluded the meal on a high note.
LG’s Japanese Mochi served with matcha (green tea) ice cream is also a party pleaser. The ice cream was packed with a heavy dose of matcha, although LG felt that the matcha could have been thicker and stronger (I thought it was rich enough for me). The matcha ice cream also came with azuki (Japanese red bean) bean paste, which was thick and not too sweet. The two mochi were very similar to Chinese glutinous rice balls with different filling – one with peanut and the other with black sesame filling. Both were covered in fried sesame bits and very chewy.
With Compliments: Carrot Cake
For those who visit Dozo to celebrate a special occasion, extraordinary treatment or complimentary dishes may be expected. In our case, a complimentary carrot cake with a small candle was served at the end of the meal. For most Michelin-starred restaurants, such treatment is not unexpected; but for regular restaurants in Singapore, such treatment is definitely hard to come by. This definitely elevated our impression of the restaurant to a whooping 5/5 stars.
Some restaurants employ cheap ingredients but extraordinary skills while other restaurants rely on expensive ingredients and impeccable service. Perhaps the latter description is more appropriate for Dozo, as the food did not match my standard of ‘orgasmic’ – it was semi-orgasmic at best. For true gourmets, Dozo may not make the cut (see RERG’s review), but the go-out-of-the-way service standard definitely ranks Dozo as one of my all-time favourite restaurants in Singapore.