A laid-back bar that focuses on Southeast Asian flavours
Boat Quay: once the shore our forefathers first set foot upon, now lined with towering financial skyscrapers, pubs for the overworked lawyers and seafood restaurants making a killing off tourists. It’s a far cry from the dock where enterprising immigrants tried to make their fortune but having a tipple at The Nanyang Club somehow transports us back to those early hustlin’ days.
Climb up the narrow stairwell to find the antithesis of a modern-day bar – the set up is bare-bones, complete with foldable kopitiam tables, uncomfortable red plastic chairs and vintage Chinese posters haphazardly slapped on the walls. Oh, and did we mention the lion (dance) head staring at the bar from the corner of the room?
Prepared by head bartender Elex Ng, the cocktails here are sure to raise a few eyebrows. We start with the weirdest, Fisherman’s Wife ($22), bourbon infused with dried octopus, oysters and mushrooms – surely this won’t work. But we fall in love after the first sip. Fair warning, this isn’t a drink for everyone, it’s an intense umami bomb but the lemon and ginger balances the intensity of the seafood and makes it a palatable drink we can’t put down. Equally funky is Chatuchak ($18), a gin-based cocktail spiked with chilli padi, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. Sip on this with the Fisherman’s Wife and you’ve got a tom yum goong going. On its own, the cocktail packs a punch, but perhaps too much, leaving us a little winded. Thankfully, Mamasan ($18) is there to take care of us with her strong floral perfume of hibiscus, osmanthus, rosebuds and forget-me-not flowers washed in reposado tequila. It’s like drinking a bowl of potpourri, the aroma of roses fills the air, the bitterness of the forget-me-nots anchors the concoction and the sweetness of the osmanthus helps it all go down easy.
There are currently only four drinks on the menu supplemented by classic cocktails and craft beer options but Ng plans on expanding the menu to cover every region of Southeast Asia. That’s what Nanyang refers to, after all. We’re excited to see what other crazy concoctions he can bring to the Peranakan-tiled bar, but with the place completely empty on a Friday night, here’s hoping he’ll get a chance.
Time Out Singapore reviews restaurants and bars independently and anonymously – we visit without notice and pay for our food and drinks.
What do Time Out stars mean?
|A perfect experience of the highest quality|
|An excellent venue we highly recommended|
|A good and solid place to visit|
|A promising but below average spot|
|A poor establishment we would not recommend|
|Venue name:||The Nanyang Club|
2/F, 55A Boat Quay
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 6pm-midnight, Sat 8pm-midnight|
|Do you own this business?|