About Ding Dong
Update: Ding Dong will move to 115 Amoy Street on Monday, 20 June 2016. Their last day at 23 Ann Siang Road will be on Friday, 3 June 2016.
Nestled amongst the slew of bars at Ann Siang sits Ding Dong – a vibrant bistro-style restaurant cum bar that dishes out contemporary Southeast Asian-inspired culinary delights and cocktails. Embracing elements of quirk and fun, Ding Dong’s Asian-fusion offerings are so bold and exotic the experience you get in this cozy three-tiered shophouse is unlike any other!
The new year’s barely started but Ding Dong’s been lightning-quick in updating their cocktail menu with several new drinks that will bound to tease your tastebuds. Knowing that Kamil Foltan, Tippling Club’s Head Bartender, is the charismatic man guiding Ding Dong’s bar, we couldn’t have been more excited to try the spanking new handcrafted cocktails.
Das sai Maru Te I NI ($19)
This cocktail is the brainchild resulting from Ding Dong’s tweaking of the classic gin martini to incorporate Sake Dassai 50, a fruity-floral sake that isn’t overly sweet, and intricate Tanqueray gin. This slightly acidic tipple is especially strong on first sip, but it gets better – it grew on me the more I drank it and, is in fact very drinkable if you can hold your liquor.
Also, I love the Japanese pickled plum and how well its subtle elegant fruity notes enhanced the drink. The bartender divulged that this cocktail is best drunk before your mains as it is appetising.
Roti Kaya ($18)
It is frothy, bursting with creamy coconut flavours and intense, full flavours of blended whiskey from Johnnie Walker’s Black Label. However, I didn’t quite enjoy it as I’m not a fan of whiskey in general, plus it was too milky for my liking. The texture contrast from sipping Roti Kaya with toasty crumbs was interesting nonetheless.
Stamford’s Tea Party ($65, serves 4)
Stamford’s Tea Party is Ding Dong’s adaptation of the Boston Tea Party – here, you get to choose between a gin-based (Option 1) or cognac-based (Option 2) infusion for an unconventional cocktail-sharing experience with your loved ones.
Citrusy, sweet with a hint of bitterness, topped with muted whiffs of floral and mint notes, this cocktail is pleasant and conservative altogether. Option 1 is foolproof even if you’re new to the world of alcohol. It is moderately strong, but still invigorating enough for that subdued booze boost.
Now, this is definitely a crowd pleaser. It is one of my favourites from Ding Dong even though I hardly drink anything that’s cognac-based. While the intense dry notes of wood from the Pierre Ferrand Cognac are impossible to miss and a tad intimidating, its taste won me over. It tastes fruity, refreshing, and almost Christmassy with all that citrus and peach weaved in. It is sweet, but not jarringly so.
Calpis (the cocktail) is light, fruity and undeniably feminine. While not everyone takes to calpis (the sweet yoghurt drink used in this concoction), I reckon this cocktail is still worth a try as the fruity, floral and vanilla notes complemented the complex and flavourful Tanqueray gin decently.
The dash of Amaro Montenegro lends a final touch of sweetness and nuanced rose note to this rejuvenating number that’s milky yet light. Calpis has proven to be a hit with the ladies as you’d have guessed. One of the guys at the table remarked how he thought this would make a good breakfast drink although Calpis just wasn’t his thing.
Kueh Blanco ($19)
Despite looking adorable sitting in a wooden crate and containing rice infused tequila, this Kueh Salat-inspired cocktail just didn’t do it for me. I like my tequilas, but the coconut and pandan flavours here were overpowering.
Although it wasn’t cloying with all that pandan milk syrup in the mixture, and it was surprisingly light and fluid contrary to its thick milky look, Kueh Blanco wasn’t my cup of tea. I may be biased because I’ve never enjoyed classic Piña Colada, even though I’m fond of fresh coconut juice.
Here’s a pretty pastel pink cocktail that is immensely popular with the ladies. Served in a hipster bottle with an old-school striped straw, this fruity drink is both a joy to look at and sip on. The yuzu liqueur and elderflower liqueur struck a good balance with the creamy yoghurt sake, rendering Fujiyama sweet, light and refreshing.
Note that Fujiyama comes in a tiny bottle, so one might not be enough for you!
Golden Mile ($17)
Instead of infusing Thai iced tea into Golden Mile, Ding Dong’s way of incorporating elements from The Land of Smiles had them shaking up a refreshing alcoholic tom yum soup boasting notes of lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime minus all that tongue-numbing heat.
Who knew mixing up Thai herb-infused Ketel One vodka, blue ginger gomme, citrus and droplets of chili oil would yield something so magical? I had trouble resisting Golden Mile after taking my first sip as it was full-bodied, tangy and very drinkable. Golden Mile is definitely one of my favourites.
Ca Phe Sua Da 3 ($21)
Coffee fanatics should give this frothy Vietnamese coffee-infused cocktail a shot to clear your palates. It makes a good pick-me-up after a meal or a cocktail tasting session for its fragrance is acutely invigorating.
This bitter-sweet brew ain’t your normal cuppa as it embodies subtle nuanced fruity, woody, floral notes stemming from the VSOP cognac, Amara and Agave nectar used.
The Small Plates
Armed with years of gastronomic experience, renowned Chefs Ryan Clift (from Tippling Bar) and Jet Lo head Ding Dong’s kitchen. You’re in for a treat if you’re looking to taste novel Southeast Asian-inspired creations that may just make you appreciate Asian flavours and ingredients more.
Kingfish Sashimi with Black Daikon, Wasabi & Yuzu Dressing ($19)
Let me revel in a triumphant moment – I ate sashimi for the first time in more than 15 years and I’m utterly proud of myself – and of Ding Dong’s chefs. I was hesitant but I’m glad I didn’t chicken out while staring at these thick slices of Kingfish sashimi.
The thinly sliced black daikon, light yuzu dressing and fragrant nori lifted the taste of the fish. It was fresh, sweet and firm without any hint of fishiness. Need I say more? I surprised myself by slurping down three slices of sashimi without batting an eyelid. That is a feat for me. I’m not yet a convert but Ding Dong’s kingfish sashimi gets a nod from me.
Their rendition of the wasabi was perplexing as it tasted almost like guacamole; smooth and rich rather than spicy and pungent like those you get in Japanese restaurants.
Carbon-Battered Prawn Tempura with Red Curry Marinade & Soy Wasabi Mayonnaise ($16)
These delicate prawn tempura were fried till perfection – crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside. And not a single bit greasy to taste. The complex flavours stemming from the spiced red curry marinade and fluffy soy wasabi mayonnaise balanced the otherwise bland carbon batter that lent these crunchy treats that visually fascinating black outer layer.
I recommend that you go along with the accompanying mayonnaise dip for added flavour enhancement although it was a tad too salty.
Crispy Pig Ears with Sichuan Pepper & Lime ($14)
That characteristic fuss-free brown paper bag reminded me of McDonald’s shaker fries the moment Chef Jet Lo introduced it to us. Being one who’s rather unadventurous when it comes to food, the thought of masticating pig ears, chunky pig ears, intimidated me.
As we gingerly opened and peered inside the bag, I felt my worries dissipating as a bagful of thoughtfully cut bite-sized strips of browned crunchy goodness greeted us.
The fragrance wafting through the air was alluring while the lightly salted pig ears were exceedingly crisp without being a single bit greasy. Even when the bag was left open for some time, to our sheer delight, the pig ears maintained their crispiness – evidenced by the deafening crunch when we bit into them.
I couldn’t detect any hint of Sichuan pepper no matter how many seconds I went back for. Nevertheless, the lime added a refreshing tangy touch which I enjoyed. This would make a fantastic finger food for sharing as the portion’s pretty generous.
Even though it is unorthodox to see exotic concoctions like Pi Pa Gao and Golden Mile on a cocktail menu, I’m secretly excited that Ding Dong’s pushing their boundaries to create drinks that cannot be found elsewhere.
The prices on their cocktail menu are comparable to those found in other bars, but quirky spins are always welcomed if you’re game in trying novel creations like I do. Boasting a slew of fabulous Southeast Asian-inspired bar food and interesting array of cocktails, I’ll definitely be back for more.
If that’s not enough to convince you to pay them a visit, The Guardian has chosen Ding Dong as one of the top 10 restaurants in Singapore. It’s your call if you want to be missing out. Ding Dong accepts walk-ins but it is still recommended to make reservations, especially if you’re intending to visit them on Friday and Saturday nights.
Getting to Ding Dong
Address: 23 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069703
Telephone: 6557 0189
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 12-3pm, 6pm-12midnight | Saturday 6pm-12midnight
*Last orders for food at 1030pm from Monday – Thursday, 1130pm from Friday – Saturday Closed on Sundays
This post was brought to you by Ding Dong.