High five for Club 5's return to glory days
I have walked past Club 5 at Parkroyal on Beach Road on many occasions and even peeked in from time to time when I hear music. To say the decor was once dated is being kind.
The hotel bar just underwent a revamp - it reopened in November - and while it still carries a 1920s vibe, it is a lot trendier now. I love the dramatic oval tungsten lamps that hug the ceiling. They make the place Insta-worthy.
Looks aside, the bar programme at Club 5 created by head bartender Ong Jun Han is another draw. There are cocktails inspired by the heritage of the area.
NASI LEMA'R TIPPLE
Interesting choices include the Nasi Lema'rgarita ($20), featuring housemade coconut tequila shaken with spicy pandan syrup and served with peanuts and anchovies.
The Boogie Street ($22) is also noteworthy. It is a smoky London dry gin sour shaken with mezcal, apricot liqueur and agave syrup, and served in a vintage coupe glass with an ice ball on a sequinned coaster.
Because I am a lousy drinker, my bar experience is more about the food than the alcohol, and my visit to Club 5 kicked off instead with Asian Chips with Balado Sambal ($10).
It was a great start because although chips at a bar is hardly new, the sambal did appeal to me. It was not too spicy and packed with aroma and savoury notes.
Extreme flavours will mute the drinking experience, so this struck a good balance.
Much stronger in flavours was the Crispy Lamb Ribs with Mint Sauce ($15), and it ended up as my favourite dish of the night.
The braised lamb ribs are deep fried and accompanied by a homemade Thai green mint sauce.
I like that the fattiness of the meat is present, which gives a hint of gaminess when you bite into it.
Also good was the Homemade Wagyu Satay with Hazelnut Dip ($15). The meat is marinated with turmeric and local spices, then grilled on a skewer. The meat is tender, and while the dip is good, it was not at all needed.
I have a shortlist of places that sell good har cheong gai (or prawn paste chicken). The version at Club 5 - named Our Signature Chicken Wings ($15) - is nice but will not make my list.
The wings are marinated in prawn paste sauce for 36 hours, then served with chilli and tamarind sauce. The meat retains its juiciness but lacks depth in flavour.
The bar food menu is tiny but even so, not all are winners.
The Chicken Kuih Pie Tee with Buah Keluak Dressing ($15) left no impression on me, except that it is beautifully presented.
But Club 5, after all, is not a restaurant, and the fun cocktails should rightfully get the limelight - which they do.
The combination of aesthetics, tipple and good eats will hopefully restore Club 5 back to its former glory.
And even if the crowd does not turn up, you now know of a place you can imbibe and take pictures in peace.
Parkroyal on Beach Road
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 10.30pm