51 Soho sounds so much like some fancy co-working space, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t think it was a dining venue. In fact, it’s an all-in-one dining lifestyle destination.
Located in China Square right smack in the Central Business District, 51 Soho is that kind of concept that wants to do it all. It opens at 8am to offer breakfast and coffee to office drones on their way to their workplaces, and then offers convenient yet satisfying lunch offerings curated specially for those workers. And if those professionals aren’t yet sick of Shenton Way, they can stay in the evening for when 51 SOHO converts into a party venue and drinking hole.
As a concept, 51 Soho can seem unnecessarily complicated. Does it pull it off? Yes, but not completely.
Breakfast is easiest to pull off as long as there’s properly-made coffee; there’s Breakfast Overnight Oats ($9.90++) for the health-conscious, or the calorie-laden Big Breakfast ($14.90++), with sausage, hash browns, pan-fried tomatoes, sunny side-up eggs and an English muffin with marmalade, for those who are hungry. Or a Croissant with Ham and Cheese and Scrambled Eggs ($10.90++) for grab-and-go.
Lunch is an affair of measured experimentation, with a pre-fixe menu designed for efficiency and flexibility. The idea here is that you build your own protein bowls – with a base of chicken breast, smoked duck breast, salmon, wagyu shoulder tender or even lobster – and load it with different add-ons.
Because 51 Soho is designed so much to be a modern contemporary dinner space, the decor is at odds with its daytime concepts for breakfast and lunch. It’s far too luxurious for coffee and oats, and fancy even for a modern business lunch.
But dinner? Dinner is where it’s at.
There’s an entire spread of grilled skewers on offer, served at the table over a Japanese-style hibachi grill. We’re partial to the Padron Pepper with Halloumi Cheese ($8++ for 2 sticks), New Potato ($4++ for 2), and the extremely juicy Pork Belly ($7.50++ for 2).
The appetisers and mains at 51 Soho border on the creative to the bizarre. Green & Nutty ($18++) sees various cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, broccolini and romanesco – tossed as a slaw with roasted nuts and grains for a vegan-friendly repast. The Wicked Pasta ($22++) too is similarly healthy, a linguine that’s tossed with zucchini done a few ways. It’s also incredibly delicious.
Salmon & Pearl
The Salmon & Pearl ($28++) will delight pescetarians; the well-seared salmon served atop pearl couscous flavourful from being cooked in house-made fish stock. But if you really need your meat, The Steak ($40++) should please with a wagyu shoulder tender that’s elevated with an interesting mustard glaze and mustard oil combination.
And while most patrons seemed happy enough sipping on wine and chugging beer, 51 Soho actually has an interesting cocktail program built around Chinese liquor such as baijiu and rice wine. They’re also all built as shooters meant for groups to share. The eponymous 51 Soho ($88++ for 9 cups, $100++ for 12) is made with house made plum wine, barley water, lychee juice and rose syrup for a fruity and floral hit. So is the Bamboo Dream ($88++ for 9 cups, $100++ for 12), which sees osmanthus-infused Jiang Xiao Bai baijiu mixed with osmanthus rice wine, passionfruit puree and yuzu jam for a similarly punchy shot.
Prosperity Cup ($88++ for 9 cups, $100++ for 12) is fun too, if you like your drinks creamy. Chinese rice wine, rock melon and white chocolate liqueur makes for a bizarre combination.
A hybrid concept like 51 Soho is generally hard to pull off – Proof & Company’s Crackerjack, for example, which likewise targeted morning, lunch, dinner and drinking crowds, struggled for a year before closing down. But if anyone can pull it off, the folks behind eclectic dining concepts Birds of a Feather and Halcyon & Crane and who also own 51 Soho, can.