Zui Hong Lou (or Drunken Red House for the non-Chinese speaking) started as a dim sum restaurant-bar. But that didn’t take and soon the place shuttered. The name lingered like an itch and it was slapped onto a new concept—contemporary Chinese dishes. Chef Clement, whose oeuvre includes Izy Dining and Bacchanalia, serves modern takes of a familiar genre. I had the steamed buns crammed with Taiwanese braised pork belly with a side of fried lotus root chips (pictured); it reminded me of a burger variant. A standout dish is the Yang Zhou Fried Rice. Sliced lup cheong is sprinkled over the rice like coins on an anthill and the rice is fried in oil taken from lup cheong being grilled. The wok hei is strong in this one.
Bartender Sufi Hizrian’s cocktails are on another plane altogether. The Breakfast Club is the summation of the average Chinese breakfast—arriving in a kaya bottle, the drink is a mix of Mount Gay Eclipse, Averna-infused coffee, kaya oat milk, evaporated milk and egg yolk. It’s like an eggnog but it tastes so good that it should be relegated to just the solstice season. There’s also the Nanhai Margarita, which has Espolon Bianco tequila, Cointreau-infused roasted green tea and lime juice, with Szechuan salt around the glass.
If there is a misstep, and it’s a small quibble that’s almost inconsequential, I feel that the Kopi Gin Tonic could use condensed milk in addition to its current concoction of Bankes Gin, tonic water and a cold brew. The Tonic is a nice complement to the spicy dishes in particular, but if the point of the drink is to evoke the kopitiam experience, then condensed milk is the way to go.
Zui Hong Lou is located at 90 Club Street. For reservations, call 8181 0572.