You may know local gastrobar Ding Dong for its extremely innovative take on Southeast Asian cuisine by Sabah-born head chef Jet Lo; if you’re there only for the food you’re missing out on some of the more innovative cocktails this cosmopolitan city of ours has to offer.
Ding Dong, which is owned and run by the same people behind Open Door Policy (ie. a collaborative partnership between Cynthia Chua, CEO of Spa Esprit Group and chef-owner Ryan Clift of Tippling Club), is located in a three-storey shophouse in the entertainment enclave of Ann Siang Hill of which its small but well-stocked bar sits on the second floor. Ding Dong bartender Silas Lee puts out a staggeringly eye-opening list of cocktails as guided by Kamil Foltan, head bartender at the Tippling Club.
Like the food, Ding Dong’s cocktails infuses influences from Singapore and the rest of the Southeast Asia region; you’ll find, for example, the Roti Kaya ($18++, below), a concoction of Johnnie Walker Black Label, pandan syrup, gomme and coconut cream that’s inspired by the local breakfast staple that tastes very much like it. The Ca Phe Sua Da 3 ($21++, main picture), on the other hand, jazzes up the Vietnamese coffee favourite with VSOP cognac, amaro and agave nectar. Then there’s the Japanese-inspired Calpis ($18), a floral yet creamy creation that combines Tanqueray gin, amaro montenegro, calpis and citrus for a refreshing, almost breakfast-like tipple.
But if you’re the sort who prefers sharing with friends, Ding Dong offers the Stamford’s Tea Party ($65++, below), which comes in two versions. There’s the more floral Tanqueray gin, citrus, lillet blanc, orange curacao and mint tea option, or the punchier one laced with Pierre Ferrand cognac, citrus, peach, and gomme soda. One order serves four persons.
If you’re more of an oenophile, Ding Dong has its own private label wine, the Rotgipfler 2012, bottled exclusively in collaboration with Austrian winery Johanneshof Reinisch. An aromatic white wine from Thermenregion in Austria, the Rotgipfler – an obscure Austrian grape varietal – is supposed to pair well with Asian food. There’s even wine on draft – a 2013 Huber Gruner Veltliner ‘Terrassen” ($10++ per glass, or $19++ and $36++ for a 250ml or 500ml carafe) or a 2012 Huber Zweigelt ($11++ per glass, or $20++ and $37++ for a 250ml or 500ml carafe) – a rarity in these parts.
But don’t forget the booze-friendly sharing plates as well; the Crispy Pig Ears with Sichuan Pepper & Lime comes highly recommended, as is the Carbon-battered Prawn Tempura, Red Curry Marinade & Soy Wasabi Mayonnaise.
Pair Jet’s food with Silas’ cocktails, and hear the bells in your head go ding dong.
Ding Dong is located at 23 Ann Siang Road.