iNCOGNiTO Bar: Chye Seng Huat Hardware, After Dark

So, if you think Chye Seng Huat Hardware is hip, with its obscure industry-chic settings and hidden entrance way; then you'll love what it transforms into, after dark. 

Once the sun sets, the outer dens evolves into a candle-lit craft beer garden, shrouded in waves of secrecy and lingering shadows cast on white walls to match. After the thrill of discovery has washed over you, proceed to up your booze knowledge with a round of craft beers, available in both the bottled form and a healthy range of 4 alternating drafts on tap. 

Casual pub life is clearly reflected in the stripped down 'interior' of Chye Seng Huat and these impressions run through the simple food menu as well. You can't fault the concept, the stark contrast to nearby craft beer snob, Druggist and its tish-tosh set up; sending younger hipsters, mostly noobs to the subject of craftbeers, straight to their doorstep.

Most recently, the joint sent their invites for an introductory Craft Beer and Food pairing. NO, wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind. First up, the Bangers and Fries ($16) delivers a deluge of beautifully cooked sausages, a mix of bratwurst, lamb and cheese-filled pork links, placed in an ornate basket. sided with chunky fries for starch. A rather colossal serving for its price tag and beautiful alongside our first beverage; a gently spiced Hefeweizen; Wu Gang Chops the Tree ($14) - a perfect thirst quencher in the sweltering heat. 

The next duo was a little harder to comprehend. Orval Trappist Ale meets a special Tandoori Chicken Pizza (not on the menu yet); the former, described as a beer boosting a cider nose with hints of ripened fruit, salty crackers, caramel and spices is definitely more of an acquired taste. As I struggled to come to terms with the unique Trappist ale; the thought of monks brewing this ice-cold treat behind the walls of the Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval in Belgium definitely helps the medicine go down. The food pairing on the other hand was an unexpected highlight, a far cry from the usual stodgy renditions you get at cafes, it sported a fiercely crisp base, a thickened, bechamel base of smoked tandoori chicken, complete with a thick blanket of caramelised cheese

Things started getting interesting with the combination of Yeastie Boys' Gunnamatta ($18) and Fish & Chips. Complimentary to a T, the crisp fish does not involve beer in the batter as commercial beers NEVER make an experience at the tavern; however, it's resoundingly light crunchy coating giving way to succulent and flaky John Dory makes this perennial pub grub classic, unforgettable. Guarded by a brightly floral Gunnamatta IPA with notes of bergamot; the pairing is strangely addictive and almost detrimental to your diet.

The next doublet crosses familiar territory. iNCOGNiTO's signature Granny Smith Pan-grilled Pork Burger with Bacon Onion Marmalade and Fries ($16) mated with Red Chair NWPA ($14) was a picture perfect duo, worthy of solo embarkations. The best part, is a toss up between the caramelised onion marmalade splashed on top the perfectly seared patty and the accompanying bottle from Deschutes Brewery - an American pale ale with a mild pine resin and citrus hops, the caramel malt like backbone adding a tinge of luxury and amber hues.

If you're in for a coffee break and want to do it the unconventional route, why not indulge in the Founders Breakfast Stout ($20)? Don't let the innocent baby chomping down on cereal printed on the label, fool you -  this hefty beverage is not meant for the faint hearted. Brewed with bitter and unsweetened chocolates as well as Sumatra and Kona coffee. The result is intensely coffee-like with a ripe stone fruit finish. Did I lick the bottle rim after pouring out its syrupy contents? Of course I did. Pair with the lip-puckering sour Lemon tart or Earl Grey cheesecake for a surprising showcase of the hidden liquorice and prune qualities in the beer.

iCOGNiTO Bar located so mysteriously in the courtyard of Chye Seng Huat may just be a little intolerable in our recent heatwaves. So take my advice; wait till sun-down, and position yourself near a fan, order a couple of dishes off the menu (they will surprise you) and drinks lots and lost of craft beer. Because that's where the buried treasure lies.

150 Tyrwhitt Road
t: 6299 4321

Operating Hours: 
Tues - Sun: 6pm - 12am

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