With the gloom and doom of the current "Depression", perhaps one of the simple pleasures is to eat but can one eat well for less in this climate?
Dozo at Valley Point on River Valley Road attempts to do this. Don't expect top-notch ingredients at this "Modern Japanesque" restaurant but instead, be content with sitting through a fairly competent 7-course dinner at the giveaway price of S$58.80! Yup, you heard right.
When you walk into Dozo, it's a little like walking through an upscale KTV joint with dim lights, dark/black wood with splashes of colour in the chairs and lampshades. With private rooms available, it is not a also bad place for mid-range corporate entertainment.
The mango shooter accompanying the menus were excellent refreshers save for the size and shape of the ice which did not allow the mango juice any where near the lips.. sigh .. if only they were slushie texture.
I liked the choice given to the diner at each course. With the trained-to-smile-at-will waiters, the specialties of the house were also helpfully communicated. Since there were 2 of us, we decided to share and order slightly different, save where we might fight over the food!
1. Starter of the Chef's seasonal assorted platter of smoked salmon with sweet whipped cream, seared scallop with lemon cream sauce on asparagus, and a small wedge of pan-fried foie gras on bread was not a bad start although the sweet whipped cream was a little funky for my liking.
2.1 Cold dish - the succulent king crab claw drizzled with sesame vinaigrette would have been a refreshing dish except that the crab claw was the salt frozen kind and was just too salty for my liking.
2.2 Cold dish - the beef carpaccio with shave parmesan and Japanese curry mayo mosaic was pretty tasty and the use of a crispy pastry rolled up to hold up the cone tower added an odd but pleasant crunch to the dish.
3.1 In my opinion, the Side dishes ruled. The first one of gratinated escargots topped with garlic and yuzu butter were tasty from the cheese although I did not get a hint of any yuzu in the dish, which was a little disappointing given that was what sealed the order for me.
3.2 The other Side Dish of steamed egg custard with scallop and foie gras topped with caviar won hands down even though there was hardly any caviar. The foie gras was mashed into the eggs before steaming and made the custard that much more robust from the combination and flavourful.
4. Soups were mediocre - the seafood bisque had all the taste of a stock which had shrimp and crab shells steeping but little else to add a 3rd dimension. The infusion of cepes mushroom and truffle was the same although it was the better soup because of the strong mushroom flavours and not too creamy.
5.1 Mains - the beef tenderloin on "pu ye" and granite hot stone was good. Despite a lack of marbling, it was very tender and served very pink. The garnish of deep fried shallots and too much ground pepper were not so good since they detracted from the natural taste of the beef.
5.2 the other Main Dish of oven baked Hamachi Kama on a bed of risotto was too fushiony for me. The risotto was quite tasteless and did little by way of contrast to the simply seasoned Hamachi cheek and again, had a tad too much pepper for me and little else to bring out the flavour of the fish. Rather disappointing.
6. Our iced fruity refresher was as the name suggests. A pleasant fruity drink with plenty of fruit slushing around in the pot made for a nice break after a lot of pepper to wade through.
7. Dessert was the freshly baked warm chocolate cake served with ice cream. While competent, it was not as the waiter suggested, "one of the best in Singapore". But it definitely wasn't too bad.
Dozo's concept is a commendable one in bringing simple happiness in difficult times, it is also great in bringing a variety of Japanese and European offerings to the masses.. it will surely gain its own following if it hasn't already.
#02-02 Valley Point Shopping Centre
491 River Valley Road