While private members’ club Straits Clan offers a uniquely Singaporean perspective, its efforts to embrace a broader appetite are commendable, writes Don Mendoza
Straits Clan offers a uniquely Singaporean perspective, while embracing the need for a broader appetite
T aking over the four-storey conservation building on Bukit Pasoh Road—where many of Singapore’s clan associations are located—is swanky private members’ club Straits Clan. But unlike what one might expect from a seemingly archaic construct, this revival aims to be a catalyst for change in the wider community. In short, it is not a gentlemen’s club. “My journey as an entrepreneur in the last decade has given me the incredible opportunity to work with many progressive creatives, business leaders and changemakers across numerous fields,’’ says Wee Teng Wen, co-founder and managing partner of The Lo & Behold Group, which manages the club. It is this impetus to create an inclusive space for genuine connection that led Wee, together with The Ate Group co-founder Aun Koh and hospitality veteran Sally Lim, to establish Straits Clan, which is said to cater to a purposefully diverse population. Not surprisingly, a similar desire to nourish and embrace a varied audience can be found in its food and beverage offerings, spread across three distinct concepts—the Clan Cafe, the Dining Room and the Bar— that cater to various moods and occasions. It makes perfect sense. Why settle for a club sandwich when you can soothe the soul and satiate the palate with a nourishing miso salmon bowl, complete with carrot and lotus kinpira (a Japanese accompaniment of sauteed and simmered vegetables), edamame, kimchi and mixed greens. The kakiage bowl with genmaicha (brown rice green tea) broth, says the club’s executive chef David Thien, features a medley of kale, okra, Japanese sweet potato, aubergine and Asian mushrooms, which have been crisped in a light batter and served on a bed of mixed grains. The concept is a nod to the sort of healthy Asian fare discerning modern diners can appreciate. “We wanted to present a healthful bowl, broth and brew concept that is holistic and harmonious, no matter the
components diners chose to put together, and can be enjoyed for lunch or in the afternoon for tea,” Thien explains. “This is why we focus on modern grain bowls that can be eaten with friends or during casual meetings.” There is a smaller menu of snacks (think otah sandwich and avocado toast) to take diners through h to the evening with a range of craft Asian beers, and these would even complement the selection of “classic cocktails with a twist”, with kombucha and custom tea blends by A.muse Projects offered. In what must be a move to be cleverly convivial, this concept is also the only part of the club that is open to the public.
Still on the ground floor located at the back of the hall, a more sophisticated spread can be found in the Dining Room. Here, a more structured and emphatic amalgamation of Western and Asian flavours shares the spotlight with quality produce. But rest assured, there is nothing uptight or pretentious about the dining experience here, whether you are partaking in a solo meal or taking care of business over refreshments. “True to Straits Clan’s identity, the concept embraces familiarity in more ways than one,” Thien affirms. “From sauces that are inspired by local cuisine to familiar flavours with a distinct modern take, the Dining Room brings together the best of the East and the West to create a cuisine that’s both interesting and comforting.” The menu, he adds, is very fluid and versatile, featuring dishes such as Spanish octopus with fish curry mayo, curry leaf pesto and mitraille potato; five-spice Challans duck with cucumber soy, sour plum and yuzu nai bai or milk cabbage; and stingray meuniere, served with tomato sambal, ratte potato and chicharron. The point, he notes, is to create a menu that offers “simple, elegant and comforting food for our members to dine on regularly”, stressing how important it is that diners could identify components of each dish, yet still be surprised in unexpected ways. “All the focus is centred on the quality and execution of each dish, rather than solely focusing on plating, or very precious ingredients.” The Bar’s menu, on the other hand, pays homage to Singapore’s food culture with a medley of elevated dishes and bar bites that are broadly inspired by iconic Singaporean classics. Think refined adaptations of char kway teow and bak kut teh. It is a social hub for quick lunches, pre-dinner bites and cocktails, and hearty suppers. But that is not to say one couldn’t indulge in a languid study of its nifty sugarcane cooler programme, which is essentially freshly pressed sugarcane juice that can be spiked with a selection of rums. And these also complement its drinks menu, which star localised twists on classic cocktails. Despite its label, dining at Straits Clan is not like the country club meals we remember—which is usually a mix of Hainanese-western and popular American fare topped with a curated selection of seafood specials and local tze char favourites. The food here is modern and designed with the varied palate of the multicultural Singaporean in mind. There are common interests celebrated that many of us can appreciate, and which its food and beverage team does with a notably—and delectably— Singaporean perspective.
Satiate the palate with a nourishing miso salmon bowl, complete with mixed greens at Straits Clan
POWER PLATE Elegant pairings of local flavours and world-class produce, such as the rendang Wagyu, are the highlights of the Dining Room menu at Straits Clan
LOCAL LENSES The Clan Cafe aims to deliver healthful Asian meals such as the kakiage bowl (below); at the Bar (bottom), you can find elevated nods to iconic Singapore hawker foods, from char kway teow to bak kut teh, which can be had alongside rum-spiked sugarcane juice (opposite, far left)
VIBRANT TASTES The Clan Cafe’s grilled miso salmon bowl with sauteed carrots and lotus root