23 Ann Siang Road
Chef Ryan Clift of Tippling Club fame and the people behind trendy Tiong Bahru’s Open Door Policy have recently grabbed a slice of the Ann Siang action with this Asian fusion diner offering small plates for sharing.
As you enter the narrow shophouse, you’re greeted by the sight of the kitchen first, then it’s up the stairs to the first of the main bar and restaurant’s three levels. The best seats are at the front near the bar, where you can watch the barmen at work on the Asian-inspired cocktails. The girly Fujiyama ($18) made with yoghurt sake, elderflower liqueur, fresh strawberries and yuzu liqueur is served in a test tube-like bottle, while the fruity Pirates of Malacca ($18) made with house-spiced rum, garcenia gomme, calamansi and pineapple was just manly enough to put a few hairs on the chest.
The small plates are small indeed, so you’ll need to order a fair number between you. Hands down, the pick of the evening was the scallop ceviche with fresh coconut wrapped in Chinese cabbage ($20). Other solid contenders are the hay-smoked pork bao with hoisin, cucumber and crispy shallots ($19) and Ding Dong’s pork gyoza with black vinegar and ginger ($20). If you’re feeling indecisive, you can simply turn to the waiter and say “Feed us”. This apparently is perfectly acceptable ordering protocol at Ding Dong – the chef will then surprise you with his eight favourite plates including dessert ($71 per head).
Asian desserts may be an acquired taste, but the quirky Malacca chendol ($15) is a sight to behold. No lurid, fluorescent pinks and greens here – Clift’s version sees shaved iced decorated with cubes of sea grass jelly, topped with a scoop of ice-cream and som salty popcorn and served with lashings ofgula melaka syrup – a refreshing twist on the old hawker classic.
Must-try dish: Scallop ceviche