(THE NEW PAPER) - The NCO Club in Beach Road is an institution.
It started as The Britannia Club in 1952, was renamed The NCO Club in 1974 and was gazetted as a conservation site in 2002. It is now part of the South Bridge Club.
When I was a national serviceman, I went there to get cheap beer. I returned recently to dine at the Chinese restaurant Madame Fan, and the memories returned.
Here's fair warning: If you're there with a male friend who has spent any amount of time there, he will recount every little tedious detail, just like I did.
The frozen smiles on the faces of my dining companions couldn't stop me.
Madame Fan still looks sexy and dangerous, with moody interiors, velvet seats and dim lights, plus a wonderfully eclectic playlist that had me trying to find the songs on Spotify.
Luckily, it wasn't style over substance when it came to the food.
I also like that while there are some experimental items on the menu, the signatures are resolutely traditional.
There is nothing new with the Double Boiled Four Treasure Soup ($28) but that's precisely why it is so good.
Sometimes you should not mess with the formula.
The ingredients - sea cucumber, fish maw, dried scallop and crab meat - provided the textures, flavours and depth to make this a show stopper.
The Crispy Aromatic Duck ($38 for half a duck) lives up to its name.
The skin is crispy but the fat of the duck keeps it juicy.
You can eat it any style (including with caviar, at $170) but just skin right into the mouth is my favourite way.
The XO sauce that is in the Gambero Rosso Prawn ($58) needs to be bottled because it is just the right amount of spicy and umami.
One of the most memorable dishes I had at Madame Fan was the stir fried Gai Lan ($14, from the lunch menu).
The vegetables are almost crispy, but it is the slivers of Kelatan salted fish that did the work. It is such a simple dish but brought me so much pleasure.
The Soon Hock ($14 per 100 grams) is usually fried or steamed, but ask for braised for a lovely experience. The sauce is aromatic and savoury and good with rice.