The process is the most important aspect of dining at Honzen. Our reader, Doris, alerted us of Honzen through Facebook several weeks ago. At first, We do not have any idea where Sam Leong Road is. Using Google Maps, we find Sam Leong Road in the middle of Little India. Undaunted by the prospect of walking some distances, we decide to give Honzen a go without making a phone call in advance.
Sem Leong is an old street lined with beautiful Peranakan shophouses, which rival those along Joo Chiat street. When we walk into Honzen, the serenity of its Asian Zen decoration awes us immediately. Initially, we have difficulties understanding the waitresses, as they are not locals. Once we overcome their English accent, we learn that the 8-course meal costs $28 per pax. We can choose one main dish from several contemporary choices (eg chicken, rendang and braised rice etc) and soup.
The starter dish is a cold mixture of diced jelly, red and green apple. The starter dish is okay. The one thing which whets our appetite is the beautiful green china ware.
The salad, served in burdock sauce, tastes very sour. The waitress informs us that the vegetables are specially sourced from India for their properties in aiding digestion and memory!
The appetiser consists of three small dishes. The first is corn and raisins on cabbage. The second is sushi which uses mash potato instead of rice. The last is tofu with Xiang Chun sauce. The idea is to start from the first, with the mildest taste and work ourself to the Tofu, with the strongest taste.
The drink is similar to fruit vinegar. It is served cold and does not taste too sour. As we do not order any other drink from Honzen, this is our only drink throughout the whole course. It is best to take small sips, while waiting for the rest of the course to arrive.
Assorted Vegetables on Crispy Glass Noodles
This dish arrives with the main course. We are disappointed by its blandness, despite its pretty display.
The Rendang rice looks underwhelming to us. Honzen does a decent job with the Rendang mock mutton. Overall, we find the Rendang rice mediocre.
The texture is similar to that of the cream of mushroom soup. It tastes salty though.
We have never eaten hot grass jelly before. It tastes as good as the cold dessert version, which we can find in hawker centres.
Honzen has gone through great efforts and thinking behind their 8-course meal. Though the price is higher than usual, we recommend our readers to come to Honzen to experience its fine-dining cuisine once. Moreover, Honzen is a great place to sit down, relax, dine and contemplate about life.
The operating hours and location of Honzen can be found here.
We walk to Honzen from Exit I of Farrer Park MRT.