Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like the fad this season seems to be “secret” places. As of late, I find myself eating and chilling at some really neat places that look so unassuming on the outside but are quite the opposite on the inside. These places are pretty inconspicuous on their own, so if you do not know what you are looking for, trust me if I say you might probably walk right past it. I was in luck as I had a friend whose friend served in these places, and so that’s how the word spread around. So what does it take to find these “secret” hideouts? Well, for one a password will do the trick; for the other, you just got to know where to walk into. Is it the novelty of eating/drinking at places that not everyone has access to, or is it just the thrill of the concept? Whatever it is, it does add to the fun factor of the whole experience!
The Library @ 47 Keong Saik Road
Situated along a one way street in Chinatown, it isn’t very hard to locate The Library at Keong Saik Road. The tiny little bookstore is clearly visible through the panels of its glass front; it is finding the supposed bar in the library that requires more effort. When you enter the library you will be greeted by the librarian who will ask you if it is your first time here. For those who reply positively, you will be introduced to the place – books and all, no hint of a hidden bar will be disclosed. But whip out the password and you will be allowed to swing open a bookshelf, walk through a mirror enclosed space, and voila – the bar! The interior is small, just a few tables and a bar plus a clean restroom (thumbs up for that:]). The lighting is dim and cosy, which makes for a nice relaxing atmosphere to drink and chill. What I love about the place is the playful cocktails and drinks that they serve up, the theme of the drinks and the designs of the holders are quite quirky and fun, not your typical round glasses, think more like a tiki man or a bath-tub of ducks! These fun drinks make excellent ice breakers and conversation starters even if the taste isn’t out of this world. Apart from drinks, there are dishes as well. The menu consists of cafe bistro fares that includes Jason’s Very Hot Dog, The Kimchi Burger and Lobster Rolls. I tried the Lobster Roll with Spicy Mayo and it was good and certainly filling, my friend loves their hot dog.
So how does one get access to the password? As word of the place spreads, more people are visiting the place so I wouldn’t mind seeing them make the PW more ‘protected’. But currently, there are many ways to get your hands on it, one being dining at its open bistro next door called KEONG SAIK SNACKS. After having your full meal there, ask the friendly waiters/servers for the PW if you feel like popping over to The Library next door for a drink. The other alternative is checking out their facebook page, sometimes you will find posts of the day’s new password floating around on their page:)
Piscotheque! – $18
The Kimchi Burger – $20
Shrub-Dub-Dub – $75
BAR/CAFE: The Library / Keong Saik Snacks
SPIED AT: 47 & 49 Keong Saik Road, s(089151)
OPENING HOURS: 12pm – 11pm Daily
28 Hongkong Street
At first sight, the front of this bar gives no indication of what to expect. Camouflaged neatly into its surroundings, the bar’s front brown shutters lets it blend right in along with the row of shophouses in the vicinity. But step inside and beyond those brown shophouse doors, and you’ll realize the front is but just a facade. Inside lies a swanky bar that focuses on American spirits and cocktails. The space is not huge but the decor is sleek and cosy, filled with a couple of booth tables, some seats at the counter and a few standing spaces by the wall.
The menu consists of cocktails and drinks with pictures of 1-4 bottles placed at the bottom of each drink. When I enquired about the bottles I was told they represent the strength of the liquor in each drink. Apparently most of the patrons get overwhelmed by the strength of the drinks as some are quite sweet and flowery and don’t taste as strong as they really are, so measures had to be taken to make the customer notice just how much they are drinking. No pictures were allowed but the service was decent, my friends and I were treated to a round of shots and some finger food later on in the night, on the house. Not sure if this is the norm of if it was because we ordered quite a number of drinks and stayed long. The drinks were indeed strong for those that were labelled 3 bottles or more, and the concoctions were unique with flowery tastes as well as spices and tinges of sea salt. I liked the little details they paid to their drinks, such as using a testtube to contain the syrup, so that patrons can adjust the sweetness of their drink at their own discretion. Apart from the single glasses, there were also drinks meant for two or more that came served in a giant coconut, as well as a large punch bowl that needed to be pre-ordered for larger groups. The pricing is not cheap on a whole but i guess you are paying for the atmosphere and the place. The punch bowl I believe is about $250 plus while the cocktails range on average around $20plus to more. A group of 5 friends and I drank 2 rounds of drinks while a few went for more, and the bill was around $300+.
I like how patrons are allowed to lounge as long as they wanted, not once did I see any staff approach any table to shoo customers away if they had finished with their drinks and were just chatting away (even if there were people queuing). Staff were friendly and on hand to answer any questions I had about the Liquor. The owner, a westerner originally from the San Francisco scene, was at the bar/lounge the night I was there and he was pretty warm and cordial, giving my group and I an introduction about the place and the drinks scene.
Usually this place is pretty packed and reservations are always welcomed before coming. Overall, I enjoyed my night there and would go there again for a nice relaxing chill night with friends who have yet to see the place:)
BAR/LOUNGE : 28 Hong Kong Street
SPIED AT : The address is in the name;]