Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An honest review: 28 Hong Kong Street

--- Note April 2016 update: I've since have a new opinion of 28 Hong Kong Street, a much better impression now 4 years later.  This is an old review ---

Have you ever met someone that you just didn't click with?  The person didn't do anything outright offensive, but you know right then and there that you're never going to be good friends.  That's how I feel about 28.  We don't click - there's a pretentiousness about it all I don't like.  It's probably the hottest word-of-mouth cocktail spot in Singapore at the moment, and the least hidden "hidden find" out there.

With all that said, I'm also the only person I know without a particular fondness for the place, so I am expecting some backlash from this opinion piece.

There are three things I look for in a bar: the drink quality, the staff's knowledge (plus points if they're a good chat), and the vibe of the crowd.  The cocktails are mediocre in quality, on par with the other popular cocktail places in Singapore.  The interior does remind me of a bar you could find in New York's East Village or San Francisco, which is another bit that makes me love and hate the place.  When replicated in Asia, these kinds of places tend to draw the attention of hipster-esque elitists with their fashionably tight pastel-coloured* pants and their I'm-so-in-the-know-about-all-the-COOLEST-hidden-finds-but-look-at-how-nonchalant-I-am 'tude.

*spelled with a 'u', because it's way more cool

The cocktails, like a majority of the cocktail places in Singapore, are painfully overpriced.  28 toots their horn about bringing back the classics and educating their customers about the history of punch and drinks.  As someone who is a fan of sharing and educating, it's nice to see people sop it up, even if it results in these same hipster-esque wannabes who try to one-up each other in their bar talk braggage, "Did you know..."

When I do go to 28, I like to share one of the punch bowls with a group of friends and maybe order a late night grilled cheese.  If you plan to stop by, I recommend calling ahead of time to reserve your seats, since it's consistently full every week and 28 is pretty good about not letting the place get disgustingly over crowded.

Quick summary:  I still recommend the place to people, though clearly I lack the same enthusiasm as others.  The place doesn't jibe with me primarily because of the vibe and overrated drinks.

28 Hong Kong Street is named after its address at 28 Hong Kong Street in SINGAPORE.


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