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Escapades

Bar Stories: Inside The Sago House

I am climbing up my second flight of stairs behind two braver friends. “Is this Sago House?” one of us asks.

 

“No, one more floor”.

The reward, if you will, is a cosy bar. It feels like coming home. 

 

I felt the warm and welcoming atmosphere almost immediately as we are ushered to our seats which is in a corner. And right behind my seat is the cocktail menu – artistically scrawled on the glass window. This, we are told, changes every week.

 

 

It is a Tuesday and its dinnertime - to say we went a little hard is an understatement. For three people, we are cognizant (some of us more painfully than others) that we do not order like most people and have no qualms doing a repeated order, especially if it is just so fucking good.

The highlights include the curried mac & cheese, potato leak soup and the Philly steak sandwich.

The last item was ordered because the word “working class” was in the description.  It spoke directly to the heart of my friend, who identifies as a proletariat (disclaimer: she works a white collar job).

 

 

It’s worth mentioning that we ordered the potato leak soup and sandwich. Twice.

One bowl of the warm creamy soup served in a tiny little bowl was just not enough. Paired with the crisp bread that came with I even thought they ordered fondue on the first dip.

On to the sandwich. It’s simply divine. All I remember is the cheese, juicy steak and the crunchy bread. Between sips of my cocktail (the Grape Escape) I was feverishly wolfing down every bite and in four bites it was gone. I don’t think I can eat another Philly sandwich in Singapore again.

 

 

From my vantage point, this bar is super cosmopolitan. I even forget I’m in Singapore. Heck, I could be on holiday and this is another bar in another city. Melbourne maybe?

The bar appears crowded. All seats are filled and we had to reserve our table to get it. It’s that popular.

 

The cocktails here are cheekily named with the puns, naughty references. I mean there’s a drink named I BBC. Props to you if you thought the drink was an ode to the British network.

 

I had The Grape Gatsby and the Sabertooth Tyga. These were strong and gave a good buzz but alas, they may not be there when you plan your visit. Maybe they will have another riff of these, but unless they want F Scott Fitzgerald’s estate and Kylie Jenner’s ex boyfriend to come knocking, I think they are pretty smart to change up the menu every week.

 

 

At this point, full of liquid I had to make a beeline to the restroom. I actually can’t believe I am writing about the restroom. Yes, it made such an impression. 

Typical of a shophouse restroom – there’s only one so on a busy-ish night when the bar is about to close (around 10pm mind you, Cinderella is still 2 hours from curfew) you have to queue – it’s inevitable. I was without my phone or bag and like any millennial I have no idea how to carry myself without my Iphone (how else do we avert the gaze of others?). Between peeking at the kitchen and gazing out the window, I picked the latter and found myself to be an accidental voyeur.

 

 

In Chinatown, the shops are typically on the first floor and traditionally; people live on the second or third floors.  Sago House, on the third floor, gave me an unsolicited glimpse into the life of the weary worker, catching himself some me-time while scrolling his phone contently. It’s a cramped single bed, in a confined space with little room for movement. It reminds me of Hong Kong – claustrophobic, a little gritty and messy but strangely beautiful in its encapsulation of the human condition in such circumstances. In that moment, Wong Kar Wai himself should have filmed the scene.

 

 

I digress. It’s my turn to use the restroom and while relieving myself I hear… dialogue? A monologue? There is a speaker and a sign that says “Toilet Humour” above, if I remember correctly. I then realize. It's a stand up show playing in the toilet. What?

The peace and quiet of a restroom in a bar is usually a momentary break from the overstimulation of the senses outside. It’s loud, people are shouting. Music is blaring. Trips to the restroom are quick and usually altogether unforgettable.

 

 

This cheeky detail was so unexpected - it’s even memorable. The attention to detail in the toilet is praise worthy. If they give this much thought to the toilet, I’m pretty assured that their cocktails are well deliberated.

I certainly assume so, because I had a great time. I like the pretzels. The drinks. The bar grub. When it was time to leave, I was certainly descending the stairs both physically and emotionally.  Indeed, it was such a fun experience I momentarily forgot grandpa’s stories about the funeral parlours and prostitutes that used to reside at Sago, ghosts of a bygone era, and in its place, a good spot to celebrate life.

 

 

@CrystalTonic

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Sago House (Singapore)

 

https://sagohouse.sg/

40B Sago Street, Third Floor
Singapore 059029

For bookings, please reserve seats online here https://www.sevenrooms.com/reservations/sagohousesingapore

Drinks Delivery: https://shop.sagohouse.sg/

IG: @sagohousekitchen | FB: @SagoHouseSG

 

MFKN HAND BUILT AND RAW AS FCK

In this era of million-dollar builds, three of us, veteran industry hands came together to open a venue that focuses on hospitality and community.

Following our motto “Don’t Try” (C. Bukowski), we chose reusability, up-cycling, and good old fashioned hustle to build an eclectic space hidden away on the top level of a Sago Street shophouse.

The program features a weekly rotating menu of cocktails created from produce found in the locality along with some simple tasty bites.

We also host regular hospitality workers education sessions, creating a safe space for industry to discuss issues that affect them, as well as sharing the process of building a venue independently.

The project took almost a year of work. Burning weekends and evenings, to create a space that is big on heart and creativity

Welcome home.