Sum Yi Tai: Designer bistro bar with an ‘80s Hongkong gangland vibe

‘Hongkong gangland-inspired’ bistro-bar SUM YI TAI serves up fun, campy Canto-nostalgia by the wokful.

Sum Yi Tai: 25 Boon Tat St, S069622; Tel: 6221-3655
Sum Yi Tai: 25 Boon Tat St, S069622; Tel: 6221-3655
07 May 2015

Sum Yi Tai: 25 Boon Tat St, S069622; Tel: 6221-3655

(Above) Chic outdoors at Sum Yi Tai's rooftop bar

Love retro Hongkong gangster flicks? Swagger down to Sum Yi Tai, a bistro-bar that pays homage to 1980s Hongkong. The three-storey shophouse is styled as “the haunt of an imaginary Hongkong triad of that era. ‘Sum Yi Tai’ means third concubine in Cantonese and refers to the gang leader’s vixen mistress”.

Well, the elaborate backstory would be helped by the presence of a ‘vixen’. Still, the place is endearingly kitschy, and the wait staff wear black tees printed with dragon tattoos — even though they look a bit like members of a lion dance troupe. In the day, it’s a Cantonese bistro, serving dishes like roast meat rice. At night, it turns into a bar, with a smaller menu of Canto-style tapas. Sum Yi Tai is opened by ex-Butter Factory boss, Tay Eu-Yen and partner Sandra Sim, both 36, in a "culinary partnership" with Blue Lotus restaurant boss Ricky Ng, 43, who devised the menu.

The Look
The Look
07 May 2015

The Look

The 38-seat first floor looks like it wants to be the set of a Wong Kar Wai movie: it’s bathed with red light, and filled with details like walls of mahjong tiles, Cantopop CD covers, an elaborate dragon “tattoo” mural and, er, a curtain of plastic roast ducks. At night, you can access the 70-seat rooftop (a formal “dining club” on level two is still under renovation) where the décor is more understated, with subtle Chinois patterns adorning the bar. Drinks are available on both levels, though we prefer the laidback, breezy rooftop, which is reservations-only. 

The Vibe
The Vibe
07 May 2015

The Vibe

It’s chill and intimate, filled with a for-now small clientele of office folks and Butter Factory old-timers. Matching the fun décor is a soundtrack of upbeat ’80s Cantopop by the likes of Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui. Look out for a regular DJ night soon, with Butter Factory alum DJ Andrew Tee dropping by to spin more contemporary tunes. 

The Booze
The Booze
07 May 2015

The Booze

(Above) L-R: First Rose and Chinese Mojito

The 12 Chinese-inspired signature cocktails each bears a playful if sometimes cheesy name and description that keeps up with the bar’s gangland story.

The First Rose ($21), for example, is furnished with unnecessary and trite prose: “She remembers that rose, the one he first gave to her, along with that ring, the one that made her heart melt”. When you’re done rolling your eyes, you’re pleased to find that it’s a surprisingly complex mix of bourbon, apricot brandy, rose syrup and citrus that’s sweet, tart and flower-kissed. The Chinese Mojito ($21), served in a dim sum basket, is also good. Made with subtle chrysanthemum-infused rum, citrus and mint, it’s a refreshing cooler with a light, mildly bitter finish.

The Bites
The Bites
07 May 2015

The Bites

The passable Cantonese-style nibbles served on small plates aren’t going to win any awards, but they make for a refreshing change from your run-of-the-mill bar bites. We like the soft and chewy garlic-strewn Salt and Pepper Squid Tentacles ($15 - pictured above). Also quite yum is the Signature XO Carrot Cake ($12), tender chunks of radish cake, egg and beansprouts in a super spicy, fragrant XO sauce — although the cake was hard when our colleague ate it on another occasion.

Open daily except Sun. Mon-Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5pm-1am; Sat 5pm-1am. Last orders 10.30pm, Sat 11.30pm (food); at midnight (drinks). www.facebook.com/sumyitaidragons
 

Report a problem