Climb up to the second floor of this 80-year-old heritage shophouse and enter Emerald City. The alluring green marble long bar is lit by the glow radiating through the stained glass. Behind it, bartenders dressed in tailored suits with bow ties and – you won't believe it – bermudas too. And here they are, shaking up classic cocktails crafted with Asian ingredients.
Can't say you've been to Gibson without having a swig of the namesake Gibson ($25). Expertly crafted with Roku gin and house-made Ginjo sake-vermouth, the boozy tipple flexes a drier finish and a hint of fruitiness while paying homage to Japan in its elegant simplicity. It comes with three bite-sized portions of smoked quail eggs, pickled onion and radish – all cured in-house – on skewers to chase each sip with a different nuance of umami.
In its new menu, Chimera anchors the theme that reflects hybridity where the bar showcases a bond between produce and product. A fizzy start to the evening is the Amazake Bellini ($25), a local riff on a classic Bellini. Fermenting basmati rice with koji, the bar creates a rich and creamy Amazake to pair with pandan and topped with prosecco that results in an elegant profile of approachable sweetness and a hint of sourness.
If you fancy a classy Manhattan, have a go at the Back To The Roots ($25) where the heady number sees an interesting addition of Chinese liquorice root to naturally sweeten the base of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye. A blend of Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao, Del Professore vermouth blend and Non 6 follows to even out with fruity but subtle umami notes of tomato.
Another highlight was the Coffee Shochu Martini ($25), one that raised brows but not because of the hit of caffeine. Here, dry coffee shochu from Tsubosaka Brewery in Hyogo headlines the decadent act with a mix of salted caramel rum and a funky oily South African Mhoba rum. Dusted with shiitake powder, the deliciously captivating – espresso martini-esque – tipple makes for the perfect nightcap.
The elevated bar snacks shed their hefty price tags and are now far more approachable. A satisfying plate of mussel spaghetti ($34) with saffron and anchovy gremolata feels like a fuzzy hug after a few head-nodding slurps. While the oily ceviche of big eye tuna ($30) is satisfyingly fatty, with slices paired with crisp strips of Korean pear and vibrantly laced with bright yellow jewels of passionfruit.
But it is the seasonal fresh oysters that remain a well-kept secret in these parts and gone were the days of the dauntingly-priced tiered seafood platters. Our favourite was the Totten Inlet ($7, per piece) hailing from Washington, USA. It is a rich fleshy brine bomb that had the slightest sweet melon notes to finish, definitely one you should look out for on the menu if you're into oysters.