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Chance into this place late on a Friday or Saturday night and you may well be forgiven for thinking you've walked into boom-town Shanghai when it was the glamour city of the world many years ago. The fashions are different, of course, and the expats are younger, but this is a place that may forever dispel your suspicions that Singapore is the most boring place in the world.
All three times we've been, the place has been packed around the long bar and deeper into the dark and mysterious room at the back, and exotic looking Chinese glamour-pusses with tight, short-black dresses have been dancing on the bar, seemingly oblivious to the crowd around them. Mine host assured us they were customers, but it seems that wearing a short black dress complete with plunging neckline is a pre-requisite.
Apart from those who just seemed stunned from walking through the portal into a different world, there is always a good mix of Singaporeans and expats to talk with, as long as you can raise your voice over the din. The atmosphere is dark, mysterious and decadent Shanghai 1920's style... and for a bonus, if you manage to crush your way to the bar, the beer is freezing cold Australian style... very welcome as the aircon does not seem to be able to cope with the crowd, and you arrive at the bar sweaty and frazzled... Then again, that's part of the experience... Drop into this place, down on Jalan Sultan, before Mr Goh finds out we're having too much fun...
A mini piazza with even mini-er rock waterfalls, and original paintings by the owner adorn this gem of a restaurant in downtown Tanjong Pagar. Singapore, having finally realised the value of heritage and now having the money to keep it, has been making super-human efforts to restore the little Singapore left alone in its previous decades of dances with the commercial devil.
Tanjong Pagar and adjacent Chinatown is the center of this activity and streets like Duxton Road are recreating the old Singapore feeling, admittedly in gentrified manner. Fratini's is in the middle of this. For several years it has presented the best Italian food in town with considerable aplomb and typical Italian cheek given the prices on the menu.
The tucker is all very authentic, even down to the pizzas, which seem closer to the ones I used to have in Rome. The wine list is extensive, the service very professional and sitting in the outside area you could feel that you are really in the Piazza Palorma. No catering to Singaporean palates here.
We have always had a great dinner experience here, and without fail, we have always been "blown away" by the size of the bill. Great for your biggest accounts but for you and the wife/husband, the hawker centre next door serves Nasi Goreng and Kway Teoy for about 1% of the price.
From the top floor of the highest hotel in the Southern Hemisphere you can see Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. At night it is all black, so for the view you must go here for lunch.
The usually seafood buffet lunch matches the view for impressiveness, and the different levels and design of the restaurant mean that it never seems too crowded. The A La Carte menu is comprehensive. Bookings are fairly essential at most times.
This place, with lively jazz and always with a good selection of lost souls to while away a couple of humid Singapore nights with, was well known even before Nick Leeson bared more than his soul to a couple of SPG's in the corner. He challenged them to report him to the local wallopers... and being good Singaporeans... of course they did. Still those were the days when Nick was young and free... Nowadays, his fellow financial traders still frequent the place as, being located in Boat Quay, it's just adjacent to Singapore's financial district...
But enough of Nick and his cronies. There are few finer imbibing holes in the Lion City, in-amongst one of the nicest restaurant precincts in the world.
The Peranakan Place area in Orchard boasts several great restaurants in the vicinity, including the well known Saxophone. Esmirada Mediterranean Restaurant has excellent food to go along with the Peranakan ambience.
Like most Singapore restaurants it closes early - around 10:30 - so make sure you get there early. A relaxed and refined atmosphere, suiting those with similar qualities.
The Chilli Crab at this traditional haunt on the East Coast has been well known for years, but lately the favoured choice is "Baked Black Pepper Crabs". If you are of the yen to try the famous Singagpore Crab delicacies (and any other seafood you may wish for), in the traditional outside setting, this place is better than most. Being close to the airport makes it an excellent welcoming or farewelling venue.
|the long bar at the raffles|
The newly renovated Raffles opened again several years ago and re-estabished Rudyard's favourite Long Bar. Though these days you wont see a tiger wandering in off the streets, and you will have to walk a fair way over reclaimed land to get to the beach, the designers have as done as good a job as could be expected.
Rattan fans sway electronically above to no effect as the place is now air conditioned, and rock bands play very loudly. Rather than shooting tigers, the sport here is to quaff litre-glasses of the local brew and to throw the shells of your complimentary peanuts on the ground. As the night progresses, patrons resort to throwing the shells at each other and at the end of the night (if you last that long) you can't see the nicely polished floor for peanut shells.
More refined is the courtyard coffee house/restaurant which serves tiffin at whatever time one usually "tiffs" and other colonial delicacies. Bring your checkbook.
|advice from a marine|
I hear that you have information concerning Singapore. I have been going there for almost ten years. I am in the Merchant Marines and frequently pull into Singapore. This is not surprising considering it is the busiest port in the world. My tastes have changed. I used to frequent bars such as 392 and Payton's Place. Brannigan's has changed much since my initial visit back somewhere around 1991. But I still enjoy their Margaritas. Molly Malones for the Guinness. Harry's for the Tiger. Elvis (Concourse building) for my bottle of gin.
The very first time I went to Singapore, my boss (the Chief Mate) told me two of his rules: Upon entering a bar/club, one must ask a woman to dance prior to getting a drink. Second, one must partake in the drinking of gin in order to get a dosage of quinine to guard against Malaria. I have taken these to heart and now that the years have past and I am the Chief Mate.
Anyway, to continue, I usually start the night off at my tailor in Change alley on Clifford pier. I go through about six Tigers with my shop owner, Dez, (T.J. Custom Tailors) and buy another suit I don't need. I have always said that if shopping in the States were like shopping at my tailor's place, more men would shop. Then it's off to the Boat Quay where I hit Harry's for some Jazz, then Molly's as mentioned before. Then it's off to Elvis where I don't hesitate to jump on the bar during Grease Lighting. Then (if my liver can handle it), I'm off to either Top Ten or Papa Joe's with the bartenders from Elvis mainly just to look at the women.
Well, I'll close for now. Take care.
V/r Michael R. Leahy
|advice from a lad who knows his stuff|
As a creature that spends a lot of their nights in the Singapore night... humid as it may be (I personally love it)... I have a couple of suggestions you may want to look into for your home page:
Here's to the Nightlife,
Visit the travel|
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