The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Six spatially distinct dining concepts, one glorious view.
The must-orders (if any): Spring Chicken (The Green Oven), Andaz Chendol Pop (Icehaus), Lau Pa Loma (Bar Square)
Review: Situated on the 25th floor of the newly opened Andaz Singapore, Alley on 25 consists of six distinct dining concepts primarily based on preparation method – Auntie’s Wok & Steam (Chinese), Smoke & Pepper (open-fire barbecue grill), Plancha’Lah! (open hotplate), The Green Oven (yes), Icehaus (all things chilled), and Bar Square (a bar which, among other things, offers all the cocktails and certain desserts served at the other five concepts).
The Sunroom, the seventh concept at Alley on 25, is a hotel guest lounge not accessible by the dining public.
The first impression I had (one that was not entirely defeated by the time I sampled food from the various concepts) was how the menus from the different concepts (save for Plancha’Lah!’s set menu concept) could have been combined into one extensive menu and space instead of being split into six different sub-concepts. The almost labyrinthine space – you pass many dark alleys making your way from concept to concept – keeps the various restaurants sufficiently spatially apart, but in spite of the key preparation equipment (such as the oven or barbecue grill) prominently taking physical centre stage at each space, the concepts generally do not possess such distinctness of interior – and indeed menu – personality to truly stand out as unique individual concepts.
Save for Plancha’Lah!, which was an exclusively set menu concept, I randomly sampled items from each location. The indisputable star of the evening was the Spring Chicken from The Green Oven – the salty, thyme-kissed skin had a deliriously spectacular crisp, with its tender flesh likely qualifying for the textbook definition of “roasty”, while elsewhere the buttery pool the chicken soaked in possessed a saline quality that would tingle the most aloof of toes. For a hotel restaurant dish, I was beside myself with delight. It helped that the preceding Momotaro Tomato Soup with Sourdough (supplied from Tiong Bahru Bakery) suitably opened up our appetites.
[The Green Oven] Spring Chicken – lardons, chat potatoes, pommery mustard, thyme.
[The Green Oven] Momotaro Tomato Soup with Sourdough.
My experience with Smoke & Pepper was limited to the Squid, which possessed a satisfying, faintly smoke-kissed flair to its squiggly chewiness. I hear from friends who dined there subsequently that their other offerings are also good.
[Smoke & Pepper] Squid – shiso, green chilli dressing.
The dishes at Auntie’s Wok & Steam were less memorable. The Dan Dan Mian, whilst keeping the nuttiness factor up to eleven, had a slight sourness to its mala-without-the-ma (more spicy than numbing) personality, while elsewhere the Tiger Prawn and Chicken dumplings were unremarkable. The best thing from my brief dalliance with Auntie’s Wok & Steam was the dizzyingly indulgent Mao Tai Chocolate Ice Cream, wherein you add some unadulteratedly hardcore Chinese liquor to bitter, rich dark chocolate ice cream.
[Auntie’s Wok & Steam] Dan Dan Mian – minced chicken, sesame paste, coriander, chilli oil.
[Auntie’s Wok & Steam] Jiao Zi Dumplings – black vinegar, szechuan chilli oil, tiger prawn, chicken.
[Auntie’s Wok & Steam] Mao Tai Chocolate Ice Cream with black sesame tuile.
My favourite spot of Alley on 25 was Bar Square, a bar concept which, among other things, offers all the cocktails and certain desserts served at the other five concepts and then some. I sampled a few cocktails, and for $16 per cocktail, you get the job done. For an unassuming sub-concept, you get cranially loosened up better, faster and cheaper than, ahem, some of the other drinking holes in Bugis. The award-winning Best G&T In The World and salaciously savoury Lau Pa Loma were highlights.
[Bar Square] Gin on the rocks.
[Auntie’s Wok & Steam/Bar Square] Irish Kopi C – Teeling small batch Irish whisky, FAIR, cafe liquor, espresso, milk, cardamom bitters.
[Icehaus/Bar Square] Best G&T In The World – Kyro napue rye gin, cranberry, rosemary, erasmus bond tonic.
[Smoke & Pepper/Bar Square] Lau Pa Loma – Vida mezcal, hellfire habanero bitters, fresh grapefruit juice, lime.
Icehaus serves all things chilled such as cold cuts, cheese and soft serve, and I was tempted by the Andaz Chendol Pop, an exclusive Neh Neh Pop collaboration item. It was a slab of gula melaka joy, tempered with the texturality of coconut and the bitterness of caramel. The pandan white chocolate coat wore its alluringly pandan perfume with swag.
[Icehaus] Andaz Chendol Pop – gula melaka coconut ice cream, red bean caramel, pandan white chocolate.
Conclusion: I am still in two minds about the entire Alley on 25 concept – it would be wonderful if I can order different types of dishes to mix and match at my table, although that would admittedly make it rather hotel buffet/Marché-sque – but some of the offerings such as the Spring Chicken at The Green Oven left a strong impression, and at the time of this post I have already returned once to the Bar Square for satisfying and happily-priced tipples. I must say, the view you get dining at most of the concepts is truly gorgeous, and may well be worth the price of admission alone.
Alley on 25 (Andaz Singapore)
5 Fraser Street