Mr Chew's Chino Latino Bar
Time Out says
Mr Chew’s Chino Latino Bar is brought to you by the same team behind Troika Sky Dining; so you know they’d have the styling here down pat. Located on the highest floor of the WOLO Hotel, this former duplex penthouse has been transformed into an inspired space for food, cocktails and of course, Instagram. The overall aesthetic is very eclectic; it’s like a Manhattan loft meets 1920s Shanghai jazz era with a bit of Art Deco thrown in, while a towering hand-painted mural behind the bar – a humourous interpretation of the iconic portrait of Empress Dowager Cixi – presides over the main dining hall.
In terms of vibe and food direction, Mr Chew’s feels like an evolution of Fuego. The fun, carefree spirit of its sister Latin American-inspired restaurant and bar over at The Troika is strong here. The menu, however, is largely Asian with just a sprinkling of Latin American influences by way of ingredients such as avocado or food such as tacos. Perhaps more than Fuego, the team, helmed by Executive Chef James Thong and Chef Ivan Ong, takes more creative liberties here: The food is bold and punchy in flavours, but also very cheeky. It’s evident that both the menu and the decor share a sense of playfulness; it’s rare to see such cohesion in a restaurant.
On the menu, you’ll find salads and tapas, buns and dumplings, fried snacks and of course, bigger main courses. The best thing to do is to order for sharing. You’ll be glad to know that you can now have yee sang at anytime of the year, though the version here comes loaded with crispy sheets of seaweed, orange plum sauce dressing, torch ginger and half-seared mackerel. The addictive nori taco with sushi rice, salmon belly, salmon roe and tobiko mayo is a Mexican execution of a maki roll. And the grilled whole aubergine with fermented beans, black sesame sauce and homemade furikake, on the other hand, showcases the chef’s deft hand in handling complex flavours – the beans’ funkiness is distinct but well-balanced to create a rich umami.
Other items you shouldn’t miss: the crunchy tiger prawn dumplings with water chestnuts, curry vinaigrette and Vietnamese mint; the century egg somen with tofu and salmon roe in spicy Szechuan sauce; Mr Chew’s Special Fried Rice (made with five different grains: black, red, brown, basmati and fragrant rice); and the pan-seared barramundi with spicy tamarind chilli sauce, coconut cream, pineapple and avocado ginger flower salad (read: pan-fried barramundi with laksa broth; the addition of avocado is a smart way to tone down the acidity while adding creaminess to hold the broth together). Oh, and the house-made pickles are exceptional. You’ll be surprised at how nuanced and complex pickles can be, once you’ve tasted their white fungus pickle with passion fruit, green papaya pickle with kaffir lime, and the wood ear pickle with cinnamon. One thing you’ll notice is that these flavours are familiar yet different, and that’s the strength of Mr Chew’s; they’re good at creating new interests in classic dishes.
Cocktails are a highlight here as well; you can expect the same inventiveness in the execution and they’re very easy to drink. We particularly enjoyed the guava and pink peppercorn G&T, which comes in a cool takeaway box. They also have a new take on Frosé (white wine, jasmine cordial, dry vermouth and shiso), as well as cocktails made with roasted matcha, chocolate milk, tonka bean-infused white wine, plum wine and more.
Another good thing about Mr Chew’s is that there are little pockets of space besides the main bar and dining hall. So you can move around as you progress from your pre-dinner apéritif to the meal proper and then for your after-hour night cap. Go seek out the sofa lounges by the windows overlooking Bukit Bintang or the hidden bar upstairs next to a champagne bathtub. But don’t miss the dedicated dessert bar, where you can enjoy a six-course dessert degustation menu with either tea or alcohol pairing.