Bar Review: 28 Hongkong Street
Checking Google maps, I made sure again that I was at the right location. No sign. No name. All I had as a clue was a number ’28’ fastened on the wall above, giving a hint that maybe, just maybe, the place I was looking for was hidden in location as plain as this. Luckily for me, one the pale beige doors opened and a patron stepped outside. Seizing the opportunity, I made my way to the door and stepped inside what seemed to be a small confined space. That is until the hostess pulled back the black velvet curtain, revealing a secret world of cocktail debauchery that one simply does not expect to find in Singapore. Welcome to Number 28 Hongkong Street.
Inside, 28 is poorly lit, but seductively so, exuding a sense of refinement one would not expect from its humble exterior. Its dim environs only serve to highlight the bar’s exclusiveness, and it makes every one of its patrons in its closely huddled table/booths seem more mysterious then they really are. But if it is No 28 Hongkong Street’s purpose to keep its existence as secretive as possible, it is failing badly. Most nights, the joint is packed to the brim with patrons, and you would do well to call ahead to reserve a table, or be left high and dry.
Owner Michael Callahan has about 20 cocktails on the menu. From Corpse Reviver to Literate Lass, Tai Tai Tipple to Modest Mule, the cocktails are teasingly named to encourage people to sample every one of them. Generally, Number 28’s cocktails are flavourful, each a package of unfamiliar and exotic tastes. We sampled Whore’s Bath ($22), which had a nice honey flavour that stood out thanks to the Manuka vodka used, yet contrasting with the pickled ginger sea salt that rimmed the edge the glass. As for Whisky Smash ($18), it’s claim that it tasted more ‘refreshing than a mojito’ rang slightly true, because it tasted curiously just like a Mojito, despite the whiskey flavour cutting through when you first sip it. The Fog Cutter ($18) was not as well liked though, with its sour/bitter flavour that one can only appreciate over time.
The food servings were nothing to scoff at either. A personal favourite of ours was the Truffled Mac and Cheese Balls ($12, Three Cheese Deep Fried Balls dusted with Truffle salt), which sound as delicious as they sound. The Ceviche Mojaido ($13, Scallops and white fish in a blend of citrus juices served with tortilla chips) only served to whet our appetite for more alcohol, while the Baja Fish Tacos ($12,Corn Tortillas stuffed with grilled fish, fresh cabbage and cilantro and cream) brought me back to the time I spent in California.
One of the downsides is that the place can get a little cramped, and when the place is packed, it can get a bit hard to hold a good conversation as the volume levels when more people fill the room. In addition, it is easy to chalk up an expensive bill when each cocktail costs from $15-$22 dollars.
All in all, 28 Hongkong Street is a place not to be missed. A place to be seen. A place to be heard. A place to talk. If only you can first find the place.