Walking along Jiak Kim Street in the middle of a sunny day is a surreal experience, because what was once home to the hottest club in town, Zouk, has been given a fresh makeover.
For those who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s, the iconic century-old conservation warehouse-turned-clubbing hotspot was the place to see and be seen after dark. More than just a club, it was a rite of passage, filled with pulsating beats, snaking queues, musty cigarettes, vodka Red Bulls, and all the thrills of a night out.
The club closed in 2016, and the former landmark would become part of Frasers Property Singapore’s integrated precinct. Redeveloped by Frasers Hospitality, the area now includes Fraser Residence River Promenade and luxury residential development Riviere.
Gone are the bright lights of the building; in its place is Jiak Kim House, a new dining destination by The Brewerkz Group. It is a celebration of the East and West, past and present – a fitting tribute to the rich historical tapestry of the locale where trade, entertainment and culture converged.
The road leads to a drop-off area outside the restaurant – my 20-year-old self suddenly has flashbacks of the hotdog stand outside the club entrance. But back to the 21st century. Beyond the doors is a warm and plush space that artfully blends heritage with modernity.
The towering roof and original timbre trusses remain, adding to the grandeur of the 120-seater restaurant that encompasses a main dining room and private dining room that can hold intimate functions for up to 40 persons.
Lending a chic “living room” vibe are striking black and white floor tiles, custom-made rattan furnishing and a feature wall adorned with pictures depicting bustling scenes of the Singapore river and its surrounds. At the corner is a dedicated in-house floral atelier that conjures up customised flower arrangements.
Dishing up the past
Inspired by the storied past of its unique location, chef-partner Seow Tzi Qin seeks to retell the tales of yesteryear through innovative mod-Asian cuisine. The a la carte menu features hearty modern classics that celebrate the vibrant flavours of Southeast Asian cuisine, coupled with a contemporary sensibility.
Start with Tingkat of Memories ($36) that’s designed for two. Tuck into the 7-herb crab cake; lamb goulash croquettes; chili crab pie tee; and a tri-colour otak otak layered with fresh batang fish paste and prawn chunks.
Mushroom Herbal Tea ‘“Macchiato” ($22) is a nod to the popular local specialty of Bak Kut Teh with peppery mushroom consomme, topped with green peppercorn foam and accompanied by mini dough fritters. Other starters include Gula Jawa Foie Gras ($32), pan-fried foie gras with gula jawa ginger caramel, candied bacon and bittersweet rambutan and grapefruit chutney; and the Hay-Smoked Wagyu Hamburg ($28) wrapped with fragrant shiso leaves.
For mains, dive into seafood specialties such as Herbal Scallop “Pao Fan” ($42) featuring pan-roasted Hokkaido scallops in angelica root dashi, crowned with crispy rice puffs, earthy cordyceps, and briny ikura. Kam Heong Sambal Grouper ($40) is a Tiger Grouper fillet that has been marinated overnight in black peppercorns and homemade sambal, paired with mangosteen salsa and cilantro rice.
Meatier dishes include Garum Quail Panggang ($46), a beautifully charred butterflied bird with creamy celeriac mash, truffle sauce, crisp lotus root chips and deep-fried cauliflower bhaji; and Beef Tongue to Tail ($42) featuring fork-tender spice-imbued Rendang short ribs, torched ox tongue, and braised oxtail. The latter is an impressive presentation of textures and tastes.
Desserts are also given a twist. Snow Peak ($22) is a Moutai and pineapple-infused sorbet that is given extra brightness with lime meringue shards, while Buah Keluak Black Forest ($22) blends the earthy notes of buah keluak with chocolate sauce.
Then there is Jiak Kim ($22), which literally means “eat gold” in Hokkien. This is a flower-shaped dessert embellished with gold foil, layers of roselle hawthorn jelly, Earl Grey mousse, Berriolette compote, and namelaka chocolate cream.
Echoing the dishes is a selection of handcrafted cocktails inspired by flavours and spirits from around the region. Emperor State ($26) is a must-try, made with homemade durian liqueur, Pisco, Chartreuse green liqueur, thyme and lemonade. Non-alcoholic alternatives are also available, including premium Yunnan Pu’er presented in Japanese cast iron vessels.
Jiak Kim House is at 5 Jiak Kim Street, #01-16 &17, Singapore 169426. For reservations and enquiries, visit jiakkimhouse.com, call 9831 5430 or email [email protected]. A lunch set menu is available from Monday to Friday, 12pm to 3pm, priced at $52++ and $65++ for two and three courses respectively.