New outlets could add more buzz to Clarke Quay

New outlets could add more buzz to Clarke Quay

Zouk's Red Tail Bar, an Asian-themed restaurant and bar, offers craft cocktails inspired by Hong Kong, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bali. Multi-concept VLV combines a modern Chinese restaurant, a club lounge (left), an alfresco courtyard and a riverfront
Neverland in Clarke Quay retains the brand’s large stage for singers, dancers and performers from Thailand, South Korea and and Taiwan. PHOTO: NEVERLAND

Neverland club, Zouk's Asian-themed restaurant-bar and multi-concept VLV among recent openings in Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay has seen a resurgence of late, with a slew of bars and clubs opening in the nightlife hub in the last 10 months.

Even on a Tuesday night, it is buzzing, with live music echoing through the main fountain area and hordes of locals and tourists milling around the bars and clubs.

Adding to the buzz are three new establishments that opened in the past month.

Red Tail Bar, an Asian-themed restaurant-bar, is the first in Zouk's rollout of new digs in Clarke Quay, where the nightlife giant is scheduled to be moving to at the end of the year or early next year.

There is also VLV, a multi-concept restaurant and lounge housed in the oldest building in Clarke Quay.

Home-grown Asian live entertainment venue Neverland has returned after its last incarnation - Neverland II at St James Power Station - closed in October last year.

Neverland Group's managing director, Mr Wyman Lee, says it was a no-brainer to move to Clarke Quay. "Clarke Quay is the place to be, since it's the most concentrated area of nightspots other than Chijmes."

  • NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

  • Red Tail Bar

    Where: 01-04, Block 3C River Valley Road Open: 6pm to 2am daily Info: Call 6738-2988 or go to www.redtailbar.com

    Neverland

    Where: 02-04, Block 3C River Valley Road Open: 8.30pm to 3am daily (open till 4am on Saturday, eve of public holiday and last Friday of the month) Info: Call 9159-3325

    VLV

    Where: 01-02 Merchants' Court, 3A River Valley Road Open: Restaurant: noon - 3pm, 6 - 11pm; Club Lounge and Courtyard: 6pm - 3am; Riverside (opening in two weeks): 5.30 - 11pm (dinner), 11pm - 3am (supper) Info: Call 6661-0197 or go to www.vlv.life/singapore

The 10,000 sq ft space on the second floor of Block 3C - which previously housed Mandopop and Cantopop club DV8 - opened three weeks ago. It is the biggest Neverland establishment and cost $1.5 million to renovate.

Besides Neverland II, the group also owned Club Neverland at Orchard Plaza and Sonar by Neverland at Orchard Hotel. Club Neverland closed in 2014 after five years due to rental woes, while Sonar is now an electronic dance music club called Nova that is co-owned by Neverland.

The owners of Neverland at Clarke Quay are looking to open it officially in the fourth quarter of the year. The club retains elements that made the brand successful, such as a large stage for singers, dancers and performers from South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Mr Lee says: "It's the first time we're operating in a community of clubs. Now, we're in an area with a high volume of human traffic."

The club has already seen old patrons returning.

Mr Paul Singh, a director at Neverland, says: "We have a lot of old customers who have been waiting for Neverland to come back. Now that we're back, they're back too."

Just a stone's throw from the Clarke Quay taxi stand is iconic club Zouk's latest venture, Red Tail Bar. It is about 500m from Zouk's new 31,000 sq ft home, formerly occupied by dance club Zirca.

While the club has yet to move to Clarke Quay, it is taking a stab at the food-and-beverage sector with the 65-seater contemporary Asian restaurant and bar, which opened three weeks ago.

Named after the red panda, a nocturnal animal, the establishment is a contemporary space with curated selections by Zouk's resident DJs playing over the stereo. Zouk declined to disclose how much it spent on renovations.

On the food menu are Asianinspired sharing plates, and the drinks menu has 16 craft cocktails ($18 to $25) inspired by four Asian spots - Hong Kong, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bali - which all have vibrant nightlife districts. For instance, Uphill Ding Ding ($20) - made of gin, housemade beetroot grenadine, amaro and lemon - is named after the ding ding trams in Hong Kong.

Having an F&B establishment under the brand is very much a part of Zouk's expansion plans regionally and internationally.

Ms Sofie Chandra, its head of marketing and events, says: "Increasingly, we are seeing how clubbing habits have changed and how dining/F&B is playing a key role in rounding up a good clubbing experience."

Zouk's Red Tail Bar, an Asian-themed restaurant and bar, offers craft cocktails inspired by Hong Kong, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bali. Multi-concept VLV combines a modern Chinese restaurant, a club lounge (left), an alfresco courtyard and a riverfront
Zouk’s Red Tail Bar, an Asian-themed restaurant and bar, offers craft cocktails inspired by Hong Kong, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bali. PHOTO: ZOUK SINGAPORE

Red Tail Bar is, however, not the new Wine Bar, the integral pre-drinking spot in Zouk's current premises in Jiak Kim Street.

"We will not call it the new Wine Bar because it is a restaurant and bar with a full-service kitchen serving up contemporary sharing plates," says Ms Chandra, 33.

"But similar to how the Wine Bar space in Jiak Kim Street has developed over the years, Red Tail exists as a space for networking, casual catch-ups and pre-drinks," she adds.

"With the specially curated menu, we hope for it to be the space where PMEBs (professionals, managers, executives and businessmen) and creatives come together, even on weekdays, to mingle, dine and drink."

Zouk's Red Tail Bar, an Asian-themed restaurant and bar, offers craft cocktails inspired by Hong Kong, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Bali. Multi-concept VLV combines a modern Chinese restaurant, a club lounge (left), an alfresco courtyard and a riverfront
Multi-concept VLV combines a modern Chinese restaurant, a club lounge (left), an alfresco courtyard and a riverfront dining area. PHOTO: VLV

Perhaps the most ambitious new player in the area is the multiconcept VLV, with a club lounge and a 140-seat Chinese restaurant within the historic River House. There is also an alfresco courtyard area and an outdoor riverfront dining space.

The 20,000 sq ft two-storey heritage building from the 1880s was once owned by a Teochew merchant, but now has stylish, luxurious interiors. IndoChine Group's now-closed restaurant-bar Forbidden City previously occupied the space, moving out in 2014.

VLV's food selection is centred on Cantonese cuisine, with Asian tapas bar snacks. Dishes include Canadian Lobster Wonton ($18), Crackling Pork Belly ($18) and Golden Dragon Skin ($15), deepfried eel skin in salted egg yolk.

For drinks, there are premium spirits and beers. The signature cocktails ($18 to $20) use seasonal fruit.

The establishment - which took about three years and more than $8 million to revamp - is owned by VLV chief executive Dolores Au, who used to head global branding, public relations and marketing for the then Ku De Ta club, now known as Ce La Vi, atop Marina Bay Sands. The 41-year-old was also part of the senior management at high-end Spanish restaurant Catalunya at Fullerton Pavilion, which closed in June.

She hopes to establish VLV, which opened two weeks ago, as a "trendy dining and entertainment venue" aimed at "the stylish and well-heeled".

Just last week, it introduced daily live band performances at the courtyard and ladies' night on Wednesdays at the club lounge. These will be mainstays.

Ms Au says: "Clarke Quay lacks an offering that provides an experience that is on a par with other top venues in international cities around the world. We hope that with the launch of VLV, we will help to create some much needed vibrancy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline 'New Quay spots to hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe