Photos: Clan Cafe
An open-concept situation, the restaurant can accommodate about 50 and occupies the entire lobby space. Accessible to public, it represents the idea behind Straits Clan as a meeting place for conversations from people across industries and an urban respite for “me” time. For the uninitiated, Straits Clan is the brainchild of Aun Koh, Wee Teng Wen and Sally Sim. It opened doors earlier this month.
Cushy, comfortable and contemporary, Clan Cafe serves healthful Asian-inspired bowls, wellness-oriented tea, kombucha and Asian craft beer. Homegrown tea specialist A.muse Projects developed the tea programme. Each custom-made brew is designed to soothe specific ailments. Think a lemon balm chamomile concoction to calm anxiety and a white tea blend for a quick fix detox. Or if you’re the sort who needs coffee before work talk, order a cup of Papa Palheta.
Clan Cafe, helmed by chef Jeremy Nguee, offers an all-day dining experience with an emphasis on breakfasts and lunches served until 6pm. The evening menu consists of a small selection of light bites. Because meals in the daytime are best enjoyed guilt-free, the highlights on the menu are the grain bowls. Each comes with a mix of red and brown rice, koshihikari and red quinoa, boosted by soy sauce.
A noteworthy mention is the nourishing Miso Salmon ($17). Marinated in miso for 48 hours, the fine, flaky, silky salmon is pan-seared to golden-brown perfection. Playing with textures and colours, the sugar snap peas and lotus root kinpira lend the dish a crunch. Also accompanying it among the assortment of vegetables are strips of purple and orange carrots, edamame, cherry tomatoes and arugula leaves.
The healthier alternative to your quintessential ayam goreng is the Rempah Chicken ($17). Paying homage to spice paste that is often used in Malay and Peranakan kitchens, the chicken is marinated for 48 hours, pan-seared and grilled to achieve caramelised and slightly crisp skin. It’s plated over a bed of mixed greens, alongside Romanesco cauliflower, murasaki imo (“purple sweet road” potato) and grapes. Pomegranate is sprinkled in for a refreshing burst of sweetness.
Fancy more flavour? Order add-on pots of broth. Whether mixing it in with the rice or slurping it separately, the hearty chicken and leek broth ($9) pairs well with the Rempah Chicken. Simmered for 16 hours, it's infused with leeks, garlic and ginger, reminiscent of Japanese ramen bowls. If you’re wondering why it’s so flavourful, that’s probably because a whole chicken is used. Yes, not just the chicken bones. Plus chicken feet thrown in for an added creamy collagen boost. Perfect on chilly rainy days.
A favourite that we recommend vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike tuck into is the Kakiage with the herbal Genmaicha Broth ($15). It’s a colourful medley of kale, okra, Japanese sweet potato, aubergine and Asian mushrooms crisped in a light tempura batter served with mixed grains and a genmaicha broth. Inspired by Japanese kakiage tempura, thinly cut vegetables are fried and sit atop mixed grains drizzled in wafu dressing. The rice has been cooked in dashi-shoyu stock for added flavour and the bowl is served with a dash of spicy pickled cabbage (similar to kimchi).
A Singapore staple that’s available all day (and for that we’re mighty pleased) is the otah sandwich ($16), served with a spicy kick. A thick slab of otah, made with mackerel and prawn, and a slice of melted down aged 18-month Comte cheese are sandwiched in between a light, buttery homemade brioche bun. Served in a trio, order them to share or indulge alone. We won’t judge. In-house desserts include the creamy pandan kueh salat ($6.90) - the moist glutinous rice tinted blue with blue pea flowers - and the light Lana Cake-inspired chocolate cake ($9.80), glazed with an indulgent chocolate ganache.
Like the rest of the four-storey club, Clan Cafe is designed by Takenouchi-Webb. Most of the furniture are custom-made, sourced with materials from the region such as Peranakan-style tiles, terrazzo flooring, Shanghai plaster and handmade wall tiles by Thai artisans. No different from the food on the table, the decor reflects Singapore as a confluence of different cultures.
Ripple Root’s mural features birds and tropical animals amidst a swirling jungle-scape. The botanical theme is not only representative of Singapore’s nature landscape but mirrors how the space is an escape from the white noise in the world. Even the ceramics (hand-picked by in-house floral expert, This Humid House) are chosen for shapes that play with interesting presentations of flora.
Price-wise, Clan Cafe may be on the steeper edge of your budget. But let’s face it, it’s not just about what you’re eating. What you’re paying for is the vibe and the chance to step outside your regular social circle and rub shoulders with some of the city’s cultured intellectual types.