If you are at all serious about your tipples, then you must know about Maison Ikkoku along Kandahar Street.
Helmed by award-winning mixologist and chef-extraordinaire Mr Ethan Leslie Leong, Maison Ikkoku has firmly established themselves as one of the leading bespoke cocktail bars in Singapore.
A man with a vision, Mr Leong saw a stagnancy with our national cocktail and decided to bring the Singapore Sling back into the limelight. Thus, SLING was born.
SLING occupies the first floor of Maison Ikkoku, with warm ambient light and decked out in Singaporean-inspired paintings SLING was nothing short of charming and cosy.
A little further in and you’ll be greeted by the impressive bar where most of the magic at SLING happens. There you’ll find SLING’s bartenders mixing anything and everything to your heart’s desire. Curious and excited at how the maverick mixologist Ethan reinvents the Singapore Sling, I couldn’t wait to get started.
To get a sense of what to expect from a typical Singapore Sling, we ordered the SLING-a-pu-ra (S$26).
With the brightness of passion fruit and perfumed with a myriad of quintessentially Singaporean aromatics such as the ever-fragrant pandan, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir and calamansi, this number was refreshing, fruity and well-balanced. Each sip will keep you coming back for more.
The Coco SLING (S$28) was as adorable as it was tasty, inspired by the early 1900s when coconut plantations covered Singapore’s land in the East. This playful interpretation was a winner at the table for sure.
With the addition of roasted coconut and coconut meringue, this drink screamed tropical beach holiday—a lovely way to wind down from the hectic workweek.
Quite successfully impressed by the calibre of the drinks, we moved on to SLING’s food menu that features Singaporean favourites with a delightful Peranakan slant. With recipes from Ethan’s childhood, these dishes make use of modern cooking techniques and are an ode to his grandmother as well.
We began with a fun one, the D.I.Y Popiah (S$36/Vegetarian, S$39/Sweet Pork, S$49/Crispy Prawn). Presented in a traditional tingkat, each layer opens to reveal the various accoutrements that you use to customise your popiah.
You’ll spot usual suspects from SLING such as the homemade popiah skin, plant-based stewed turnip and carrots, long beans, eggs, coriander, shallots, beansprouts, tofu, roasted sesame seeds to name a few.
If you opt for the Sweet Pork variation, you’ll get tasty little nuggets of lap cheong which adds a savoury punch to your roll. While the Crispy Prawn comes with deep-fried prawn fritters crunch and those looking to indulge.
An interactive and fun portion of our meal, I rather enjoyed customising my popiah stuffing it with as much as I can. SLING’s stewed turnip was soft and flavourful but not overly wet such that I end up with a soggy popiah. All wrapped up with fresh ingredients; these little treats certainly whetted my appetite.
Now, time for the main event. The Babi Hitam (S$39) entered like the starlet it was, a glorious slab of Hokkaido Kurobuta pork that was sous-vide then braised for 72 hours. Glistening, shiny and slightly sticky from the sauce, there has never been a more perfect piece of meat.
With that much braising, there was barely any resistance as my knife sliced through each tender, luscious layer. Savoury, rich and comforting all at once, I would have gladly licked the plate clean if not for my need to maintain social decorum.
Straight from Ethan’s grandmother’s cookbook, the Nenek Chicken (S$28) is one not to be missed, with a rich sauce consisting of aromatics such as ginger, lemongrass, turmeric smothering juicy pieces of chicken.
Each piece of chicken was succulent and well-coated with that winning sauce; each bite was fragrant and well-balanced. Unpretentious and simple, all you need is a bowl of rice and dinner is settled.
And if it’s good ‘ole rice you’re craving for, SLING has got you covered. Coloured a delicate blue from the butterfly pea flower, SLING’s Nasi Biru (S$3) is the best companion to the Nenek Chicken—or any of the dishes, really.
With the addition of lemongrass, this rice is fragrant to boot, and trust me; you might order a second bowl.
SLING is all about elevating the usual Peranakan classics, so here is one that might not be the prettiest to look at but comes out on top in terms of flavour. This Rendang (S$45) is given an upgrade with tantalising wagyu beef loin that is slow-cooked in a rich coconut curry.
To ensure the coconut milk is extra fresh, Ethan hand-squeezes them himself. After all, when it comes to rendang, everything hinges on how the rich coconut milk mingles with those spices.
After the long hours of low and slow simmering, the coconut milk deepens to nutty, buttery brown while the beef breaks down, resulting in soft and tender chunks.
Thick and slightly sweet, the gravy does hit the spot. A more luxurious cut like wagyu indeed lent more flavour and resulted in richer rendang. A more lavish rendang than one is used to, but a dish that still maintains the integrity of the dish and I was here for it.
The pièce de résistance of the evening, the flambéed Hey Mee (half or full at market price) promises both style and substance. A beautiful mess of Hokkien noodle, it’s cooked in Asian rock lobster and lobster broth for an extra punch of umami.
Served with moreish bits of pork and crowned with baked lobster, it’s time to whip out your phones for the money shot. Showmanship does add to the experience, so seeing the lobster set aflame added to the anticipation that surrounded the dish.
Despite all the theatrics surrounding the dish, unfortunately, these noodles fell a little short. I did detect a tinge of that elusive wok hei, but there wasn’t s enough for that gratifying slurp.
I had high hopes for the noodles since it was prepared with Asian rock lobster and lobster broth. However, the noodles were lacking in flavour.
The saving grace would most probably be those Asian rock lobsters. Each thick curve of flesh was fresh and firm; after all, there is nothing worse than bad seafood.
It’s indeed a shame that Hey Mee did not deliver given all the fanfare that came along with it. Nevertheless, judging from the quality of the other dishes, I’m sure this is just a blip that will be easily tweaked by SLING.
Desserts are undoubtedly the best parts of any meal. For SLING, we were served their Kueh Dadar (S$16) and knowing SLING it’s not just any old kueh dadar.
SLING’s Kueh Dadar takes on a certain Western flair, with a freshly-made, French-style, pea-green pandan crêpe that envelopes an overflowing homemade young coconut espuma (fancy word for foam) and torched for good measure.
That’s not all—the crêpe is then topped with toasted coconut shavings and a spectacular shot of treacly gula melaka syrup. If you know me and how I feel about coconuts and gula melaka, this is everything I’d want in a dessert.
The paper-thin crêpe made this rendition of kueh dadar more delicate, while the glitzy coconut espuma continues to modernise this dessert. I have to admit I’m quite the purist when it comes to desserts but this was quite charming indeed. The toasted coconut shaving added depth that paired well with the sticky gula melaka—I’m sold!
As the latest brainchild of Ethan, SLING does present many strong fronts, especially with their drinks. Each tipple was well thought out and creative while paying homage to our national drink.
Their array of Singapore dishes are modern but still retains that homely quality. With a guarantee of excellent drinks and a variety of familiar yet modern dishes, SLING promises a good time.
Expected Damage: S$40 – S$60 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
SLING by Maison Ikkoku
20 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198885
SLING by Maison Ikkoku
20 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198885