DON HO Social Kitchen & Bar, located in the Keong Saik Road dining and nightlife enclave of Singapore’s Chinatown district, combines a fusion Australian menu with a tropical cocktail menu for a “social” dining space.
While tastefully and pleasantly put together, self-described “social kitchen and bar” DON HO is a curious setup that bizarrely fashions somewhat disjointed ideas into one. For one it’s named after a late Hawaiian entertainer largely unknown in this parts; while the loud tropical theme you’d associate with the Hawaiian archipelago fits with the name, the Top 40s music and modern Australian and fusion Asian menu doesn’t quite gel with it – in fact you’d think this was conceptualised by a committee. But it’s comfortable enough, and less discerning diners probably won’t give a second thought to such incoherent execution.
The cocktail menu has vestiges of that tropical theme and probably the most Hawaiian in nature, and as such you can expect more tiki- like drinks than usual. Both the citrusy Yuzu Mule ($20++) and the fruity Berry Bramble ($22++) are refreshing tipples that help ease into warm summer evenings, while the Peaty Monkey ($20++) – made with Monkey Shoulder and Ardbeg 10YO whiskies – packs more complexity with a hint of smokiness from the Islay single malt to balance the tropical fruitiness of lime and pineapple. You’re in the wrong place if you’re looking for strong, spirit-forward drinks, but it’s forgivable here considering the theme.
If you’re not into cocktails, there’s a decent portfolio of wines – both sparkling and non-sparkling – at affordable prices that cover a range of grape varietals, regions and styles. Yet we’d argue that many of these wines add to the jumbling of the tropical theme – we get the Californian Merlot or the Australian Shiraz, but how does an Austrian Gruner Veltliner or Argentinian Malbec really help to represent what DON HO is trying to do?
As for its food, the tapas style dishes are perfect for sharing between three to four people. The Japanese-style Crispy Eggplant ($10++, above), battered tempura-style and drizzled with a sweet soy drizzle, makes perfect bar food. For carnivores the absolutely delicious Roasted Iberico Pork Jowl ($16++, above) is a must-order.
Despite an overall concept that is far from cohesive, DON HO is really rather suitable for a girls’ night out or group outing. Its kitchen is more than competent, and when it finally tweaks its wine menu and music playlist for more coherence DON HO could likely feature on more social calendars.
Address Keong Saik Road 1, #01-05, The Working Capitol Building, Singapore 089109
Opening Hours 6pm to midnight, Tuesday to Saturday
Tel (65) 6223 5001