Time Out says
Note: Barlai is now closed.
When it comes to pulling off a nondescript bar entrance, trust The BIG Group to execute it with class and subtlety. The group’s newest opening, Barlai, has inconspicuously sneaked into the corner of Jalan Sin Chew Kee, taking over the ground floor of Ng Sek San’s Sekeping Sin Chew Kee.
It’s an exceedingly charming space with decaying walls, bamboo blinds, naked bulbs and white Ipoh-style window panes for a one-way trip to yesteryear. Wooden picnic tables make up most of the bar while old road signs hang on the wall to preserve the heritage allure of Sek San’s eco-friendly retreat. At the bar’s entrance, gangly trees sprout around the narrow stairs that lead to the mezzanine floor, where gigs, readings and exhibitions take place upon request. Tread carefully and you might end up in the ‘secret’ room where comfy beanbags are accessible by a double-decker-style climb. Barlai screams ‘hidden gem’ – a scruffy nook for the rarely peaceful after-work drink, or a sensible recommendation for the visiting backpacker.
Cocktails here are as old-world as the space itself, with tributes to local ingredients in the Milo Kaw (Irish whiskey, hazelnut liqueur and Milo), Siam Mojito (rum, calamansi, kaffir lime leaves and mint) and the Barlai Pina Colada (like the usual but with a dash of pandan syrup). On the occasion you have more than three, you might want to avoid taking those steps up to the ‘secret’ room. Trust us.