Clarke Quay’s $80 million revamp has seen the waterside lifestyle precinct converted into a hive of modern bars, clubs and eateries. Alongside the drinking and dancing hotspots like Ministry of Sound, Bar Cocoon, and Baize & China One, Clarke Quay now houses numerous new restaurants as part of phase two of its refurbishment, which also includes the Central Square Fountain and a ventilation system utilising a combination of canopies and fans (that, incidentally, won the ASEAN Energy Efficient Building Award for Tropical Building Design in 2006). In keeping with the old favorites such as Coriander Leaf, Peony-Jade Restaurant and The Tapas Tree, the new restaurant tenants offer hungry diners a range of different cuisines from around the world. And they’re impressive—gone are the tired facades and dated decor. These newbies are fitted with modern furnishings and funky indoor and alfresco areas where every detail has been taken into account. Here are the newest that Clarke Quay has to offer our restaurant scene.
Modern European. Crazy Horse Paris, Block B, #01-01 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6336-1800.
Although the Crazy Horse Paris cabaret show has been around for over six months, little attention has been given to its restaurant, which is open to the public. Le Restaurant is über glamorous with red floors, walls and furnishings, and vintage style black and white photographs of celebrities. The menu is similarly provocative and full of quality ingredients. House specialties include the millefeuille of crab salad ($20), the pan-fried Chilean cod ($34) and the rack of lamb ($36). But perhaps what is unusual about Le Restaurant are the dishes not on the menu. If you call ahead at least 24 hours, you can order the tomato confit dessert ($18) that uses vine ripened tomatoes which are skinless, seedless and stuffed with a stewed mixture of diced fruit such as kiwifruit, rock melon and peach cooked with mixed spices like star anise. Also recommended by Chef de Cuisine Gary Kwang is the chocolate fondant ($15), which also requires at least a 24-hour booking. Open Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm.
Kura No Naka Japanese Restaurant
Japanese. Block B, #02-02 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6336-6659.
Next door to Crazy Horse is Kura No Naka. This understated Japanese joint boasts a substantial menu of everything from salads to sashimi, noodles and desserts. The idea is for dishes to be served izakaya style, that is, in small portions with sake or sochu. Classic favorites here are maguro avocado or fresh cubed tuna ($10), tonkotsu sui gyoza or dumplings in pork soup ($14) and curry udon ($14). The restaurant has a laidback relaxed feel about it, making it a good choice for chilling with mates or for hosting less formal lunchtime meetings. Open Sun-Thu 11am-2:30pm, 6-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm.
Marrakesh—Moroccan Lounge & Bar
Moroccan. Block D, #01-01 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6338-7331.
With its indoor swings surrounded by Moroccan tiling, hazy curtains and specially selected Moroccan ornaments and antiques, Marrakesh is a very cool place to sit back and soak up the atmosphere. Really more of a bar than a restaurant, Marrakesh serves finger foods such as shish kebabs ($18), jawanih dajaj or chicken wings ($18) and a mixed grill platter ($35 or $25 for vegetarian platter) traditional Moroccan style where it’s all about spreading the food out and sharing it with your company. All cocktails are $13, including the signature cocktails such as the gunga dean (Bombay Sapphire and mint) and the Marrakesh special of Malibu, Midori, banana liqueur and blue curacao. Sheeshas ($20) are also available if purchased with drinks and food. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 5pm-2am.
Mongolian Grill. Block D, #01-02 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6339-0200.
Right next to Marrakesh is The Tent, where Mongolian grilled vegetables and meats are the specialty. Over 20 varieties of vegetables, 12-30 meats and 16 sauces, oils and garnishes are in the spread for customers to mix and match. Unlike other Mongolian grills, where one is often left to devise combinations without guidance, The Tent provides menu suggestions of the best ways to get the most flavor out of your dish. Vegetarians are catered for as well—their sauces are kept in a separate area and there is a dedicated vegetarian hot plate to ensure no meat inadvertently ends up on the wrong plate. Open daily 6:30-11:30pm.
Zuma Bar & Grill
Mediterranean Grill. Block C, #01-01 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6339-6365.
Zuma’s impressive U-shaped bar right on the Singapore River and its large alfresco area make it a great people-watching spot. Here, grilled meats are the specialty, with dishes such as lobster grilled in tarragon butter ($23 for half, $40 for whole), pan-fried sea bass with pistachio crust ($21) and sirloin steaks ($23.50 for 180gm, $28 for 275gm) on the recently revised menu. But perhaps the most interesting menu item is the Menu Surprise, where the only choice you have is whether you want three ($65), four ($80) or five ($90) courses. The rest is left up to the chef to decide, including dishes that may not be on the a la carte menu. If you prefer to know what you’re getting yourself into, there’s also the daily Menu Marche with three courses for $50. Open daily 3-10:30pm, kitchen opens from 6:30pm.
Indonesian. Block A, #01-05 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6337-0144.
Set between River Valley Road and the water are several other cool restaurants attempting to bring something new to the dining scene. The owners of Bali Thai and Renn Thai, for instance, have opened their own offering of Indonesian concept dining, where Indonesian food is elevated to the mid-tier restaurant level. At Bayang, they try to educate diners about Balinese and Padang foods by presenting traditional dishes using typically Balinese spices and ingredients in an unfamiliar way. They recommend new patrons to try their ikan pepes bandung ($18), a whole leatherjacket steamed with spiced coconut mousse wrapped in a banana leaf (we’re warned this is extremely spicy) or the bebek betutu or baked duck in banana leaf ($14). All wines on offer (they suggest you stick to the red blends) have been specially chosen to complement the spices in each dish. Open daily noon-3pm, 6-11pm.
Ivory—The Indian Kitchen
Indian. Block A, #02-04 Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6333-4664.
Also set to open to the public in mid-July is Ivory—The Indian Kitchen, a fine dining contemporary Indian restaurant serving healthy and contemporary style Indian food focusing on Indian coastal cuisine, and Shisha, a lounge bar serving delicious Indian tapas and exotic cocktails. Apart from fresh seafood, it will feature live cooking stations offering hot plate and spit fire cooking styles amid a warm contemporary decor.
On the boiler
Come October, keep a lookout for the opening of the international brand BICE, which will present a skillful amalgamation of traditional and newer trends in Italian cuisine. These will be constantly refreshed with visiting chefs from Bice’s international stable of restaurants. Also scheduled to open in October is Fashion TV, which will offer diners a front row seat at some of the best fashion shows in the world with more than 30 plasma screens fed through the FTV channel. Nibble on light international fare while sipping the latest in bar mixes and drinks as you ogle the hottest in runway fashion. Coming from the folks at The Tapas Tree will be Highlander, a restaurant and bar celebrating all things Scottish. Fans of Satay Club will be pleased to know it too returns to Clarke Quay come October. It all adds up to a sizzling selection of eats.