Named after Chia Ann Siang, a wealthy businessman, Ann Siang road is home to restored shophouses (some are still decorated with Peranakan tiles) that house clan associations, restaurants, bars and niche boutiques. There’s also a hidden green space behind the row of shophouses for a quiet stroll. On Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm to 1am, both Ann Siang Road and Club Street – the name comes from the Chinese clubs that used to line the stretch – come to life as the area is closed off to traffic and the crowd spills out onto the streets.
RECOMMENDED: Check out our guide to the Ann Siang Hill area
Restaurants and bars
The only thing constant about :pluck is head chef Brandon Teo, formerly of Keong Saik Snacks. At this restaurant with an open kitchen, menus change regularly and are designed according to themes such as ‘Singapore Asian Fusion’. If you’re game for a surprise and would rather try something fresh from a familiar place, :pluck’s the perfect spot for you.
After the property-wide revamp of The Club hotel, the neighbourhood gets a whisky-serious bar in its midst again. Like the old B28, the look of the basement bar is still very much geared at helping the dressed-up gentleman feel distinguished. A performance corner has also been carved out for live jazz gigs from Thursdays to Saturdays ($15/person on Fri & Sat). Still, the overall feel is rather cramped, and a busy evening will send decibel levels into a tizzy. The bookish menu, dedicated to whisky, is hilariously condescending with its pronunciation guide to the typically tongue-twisting names of the Scottish distilleries. Laphoraig (la-FROY’g) and Auchentoshan (OCH-en-TOSH-an) are helpful; Port Charlotte (port-charlotte) and Littlemill (little-mill), less so. Over 100 labels, now with a focus on Scottish single malts, are displayed behind the bar and tucked into the many cupboards, like vaults. And it’s understandably so. Incredibly rare bottlings command top price tags, like the Glencadam 34-year-old sherry, casked-aged from 1977 ($120/dram, $236/double, $1,800/bottle), Glenfarclas 1954 ($300/dram, $596/double, $4,500/bottle), and Macallan 1969 ($425/dram, $846/double, $6,375/bottle). But expect to pay anywhere from $18 to $30 on the entry-level labels. Prices for the classic cocktails ($22-$28) have also taken a sharp uptick. Which is odd, seeing as the bar’s Singaporean Diageo Reserve World Class star, Aubrey Sim, has long moved on. Our Negroni ($28) turns out to be a p
Singapore's cheekiest chef is at it again – Bjorn Shen's latest project is a 'ghetto-style' Thai eatery not- so-subtly called Bird Bird, where, true to its name, the humble chicken takes centre-stage. Shen doesn't muck around; the eatery goes balls deep into the unapologetically gung-ho foods of Northern Thailand. There are garlicky double-fried chicken, lemongrass-barbecued chicken, and what Shen dubs 'The Schwarzenegger of Som Tum': an over-the-top salad augmented with crispy chicken skin, salted eggs, fried anchovies and fish crackers. Cut all that richness with Thai milk tea slushies or beers. Dinner plates will run from $10-$35.
The Disgruntled Chef (The Club)
For its second outlet, at the recently revamped The Club hotel, The Disgruntled Chef ditches its Dempsey brunch rays and ladies-who-lunch crowd for a nighttime, street-smart CBD flock. The welcoming crew ushers diners into a handsome 66-seater room covered in dark grey, with moss green armchairs set against walls of art. Outside, alfresco seating peers over the heads of Chinatown's low shophouses, and a private room for 13 hides away in the basement with silk wall coverings. However, Daniel Sia – of Les Amis pedigree – will be discontent to note that most of the dishes suffer from the trek up from the basement kitchen. Sure, they're Instagram-able works of art, but plates like the crisped-skin, sticky-sauced Kurobuta belly ($38), or the shallow puddle of confit white asparagus with egg yolk and prosciutto ($21), are dismayingly lukewarm on arrival. And don't take the plates, classified 'Small' and 'Big', to be sharing platters, either – they're better suited as the (pricey) appetisers and mains they really are. Fix these and Sia might do justice to his better dishes, such as the signature assembly of pungent cep-paste, wagyu beef ribbons and confit yolk ($26), fluffy truffle brioche ($12), and the textural dessert of champagne-cooked strawberries with mascarpone ($16). The new Disgruntled Chef's given us much to feel sullen about, but we'd like to think it can do better.
Hidden deep in Chinatown, this modern watering hole stands as a stark contrast to the district’s old shophouses and narrow alleys. But don’t let its digs fool you. Gem Bar is as unpretentious as they come – the beer is cold, service prompt and food simple. The best time to visit is on Friday and Saturday evenings, when the street is closed off to traffic and tables are set outdoors to transform the district into every partygoer’s wet (with alcohol, that is) dream.
The casual restaurant with totally-not-casual prices serves up seasonal Mediterranean cuisine in small plates for sharing. Watch the chefs prepare your food right in front you at a dining bar, or opt for the communal table to pass the plates around. The joint is famous for its sea urchin pudding ($19), which you’ll end up licking clean – trust us, it’s that good. Also try the scrambled eggs with Bottarga di Muggine ($22) or tuna belly tartare ($42), and pair it up with Lolla’s carefully curated selection of wines and spirits. Head down on Sunday from 10.30am to 3pm and you'll find a good selection of specially curated brunch-only dishes including baked blue cheese omelette ($19), bacon steak ($19) and crab lasagne ($29).
Nutmeg and Clove
After a short stint on Ann Siang Road, and a constant revolving door of bar and kitchen talents working behind the Chinese medical hall-inspired counter, Nutmeg and Clove settles above Gem Bar as part of a new era under The Establishment Group. The drinks continue to drive the bar’s mission to chart Singapore's journey through history, with Asian flavours a dominant part of the flavour profiles here.
Oxwell and Co
Opened by three Brits aching for a taste of home, Oxwell and Co will hopefully transport diners to the UK with its English-style decor and nosh. Grab a quick drink by the bar on the first level, settle down for a rustic dinner on the second, or book out a private event on the third storey that’s been designed to look like a British drawing room. And you can’t leave and roll down the street without sipping on some Gin and Chronic ($15), a subtly spiced version of the classic tipple.
Elsewhere on Ann Siang Road and Club Street...
The Australian activewear brand for women comes to Singapore, having launched in over 45 countries. Founder Lorna Jane Clarkson is a former aerobics instructor who branched out into women’s sportswear after noting the gap in the market. Years later, the brand has expanded beyond its Aussie shores into the US and Asia. Check out Lorna Jane’s gear made with its trademark LJ Excel fabric, which melds form and function.
The Scarlet Singapore
Housed in a preserved pre-war shophouse in culturally rich Chinatown, The Scarlet Hotel boasts a rooftop restaurant and outdoor hot tub. Its boutique-style rooms offer free wireless internet access and pillow menus. Scarlet Hotel is less than a 10-minute walk from Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar MRT Stations. Numerous dining and nightlife options at Club Street await guests steps away from the hotel. Textures, colours and mood lighting combine to provide an experience in Scarlet’s rooms. Tea/coffee makers and safety deposit boxes are included. Guests can maintain their fitness in the hotel’s gym. The hotel offers laundry and dry cleaning services at a charge. Currency exchange can also be done.