Food

While pri­vate mem­bers’ club Straits Clan of­fers a uniquely Sin­ga­porean per­spec­tive, its ef­forts to em­brace a broader ap­petite are com­mend­able, writes Don Men­doza

Singapore Tatler - - CONTENTS -

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

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