Since I was on course last Friday, which meant that the day ended earlier than usual compared to if I was in the office, I made plans to meet up with a friend who is back in town for vacation and visiting family. We decided to head to Haji Lane, even though the weather now in Singapore (that has taken a turn towards the extremely hot and humid in this week that was leading up to the F1 Night Race here) threatened to be punishing for any outdoor activity, walking included.
Nevertheless, since it has also been a while since I last went there, I thought it was good to visit again. I have probably only been to Haji Lane and its neighbouring streets a few times, mainly due to weather issues, and also because it isn’t too conveniently located. It is not too far to walk from Bugis MRT station, but these days I spend more of my time around the Orchard area, with its almost seamless connection between subway station and shopping malls, i.e. air-conditioned comfort.
There are some interesting shops in Haji Lane, selling clothes with a cool, edgy feel or those that are colourful and preppy. But I assumed a lot of these would tend to be overpriced, since I believe too that a large percentage of the threads are sourced by their owners from places like Bangkok and perhaps Seoul, and over there the prices are way more pocket-friendly. Anyhow, I have yet to do any wardrobe spring-cleaning so clothes-shopping is still being kept to a minimum.
At about 5:30pm on Friday, Haji Lane was already packing in the crowds, unsurprisingly. A lot of people perhaps tend to leave the office earlier for TGIF although not all the establishments were full yet. When we popped into Bar Stories (on level two) at about 6pm, it wasn’t crowded but they had reservations for their tables and bar and we were told we could sit till about 8pm.
I have been there once, years ago, for coffee and cake, and this time, I tried their bespoke cocktails! The concept is the same as Klee that used to be at Portsdown (maybe they are related in some ways); there is no menu for the drinks, you just tell the bartender what you feel like having and they’d mix up a concoction for you.
My friend wanted something fresh and fruity, while I wanted something with a tinge of sourness, so this was what we got.
The pot of burning grass at the side was supposed to be aromatherapy but I was kind of worried it would burn my hair or something. The cocktail mixed for me was pretty good, it wasn’t too sour and the overall taste was actually quite good. I suspect there were grapes used that explained the purplish colour, and the whole look of it appeared to be romanticised and oriental don’t you think? My friend’s drink, which I tried a small sip when it had turned warm, probably had some citrus fruit in it, but at that point when I tried it I couldn’t tell what could have gone into it. She didn’t finish it because when it wasn’t cold anymore, it somehow didn’t taste good any longer. In fact, it tasted a little weird by then.
The place started to fill up with customers around half past 7 and slightly past that, we also thought it was time to leave since we could only sit till about 8. Besides the two drinks, we also ordered this bar snack, fried chicken with some garlic sauce and this was quite decent. Or maybe I was still pretty peckish and hungry despite having been eating non-stop throughout the entire duration of my 2-day course.
This wasn’t too oily even if it’s battered and deep-fried, and sort of brought back some nice memories of polenta chicken bits that were shared with friends over beer at Acid Bar at Peranakan Place.
Bar Stories is one awesome place for a great catch-up with friends, especially at the time when we dropped in before the crowds started streaming in. I think even by then the noise level should still be manageable but it would be nicer to be chilling over cocktails and chatting in a relaxed quiet atmosphere so if you can be early, do go early!