HOWARD AND HUI NAN

EM­PIRE EATS GROUP & LIB­ERTY SPIR­ITS ASIA

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Savour Feature -

Lim Hui Nan was a young lawyer and a reg­u­lar at Howard Lo’s first Stand­ing Sushi Bar branch when sparks first flew back in 2009. They started dat­ing shortly af­ter that event­ful first drink at Room­ful of Blues and even­tu­ally tied the knot in 2012. By then, he had ex­pended his busi­ness with a few more con­cepts un­der the Em­pire Eats group he founded. The group now owns and op­er­ates a port­fo­lio of six food and bev­er­age brands, in­clud­ing mav­er­ick Ja­panese-amer­i­can gas­tro­bar Tanuki Raw, in­ti­mate cock­tail bar The Se­cret Mer­maid and the lat­est, Sumo Bar Happy, a mod­ern ra­men and “tachi­nomi” one-cup stand­ing sake bar. Hui Nan left her le­gal prac­tice and joined the busi­ness full-time in 2014, around the same time they had their first child.

HAS A MU­TUAL LOVE OF GAS­TRON­OMY BROUGHT YOU CLOSER?

She said: It was our mu­tual love for a good, neat dram of Scotch that brought us closer and ce­mented the re­la­tion­ship for me. I dis­cov­ered my weak­ness for whiskies from the closed Is­lay dis­tillery of Port Ellen (which is re­open­ing soon!) and Howard’s love for sherry cask ex­pres­sions. He said: We soon for­ayed into Amer­i­can bour­bons and dif­fer­ent types of Amer­i­can spir­its when we started mak­ing yearly trips to the States to visit my fam­ily, and dis­cov­ered the joys of a well-made clas­sic cock­tail. On our trip to Port­land, Nan sur­prised me with a tour of some of the craft dis­til­leries that in­spired me to start Lib­erty Spir­its Asia in 2013 and im­port Amer­i­can craft spir­its to Asia.

It’s like ap­ply­ing in­tense pres­sure to the mar­riage— just like coal, where squeez­ing it hard enough turns it into a di­a­mond

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