Nestled on the 2nd floor of a building in the famous Keong Saik Street neighbourhood, lies a great spot called the Elephant Room. Only one look inside and you can begin to understand why it is so aptly named. With a grand wooden bar meeting you on your way in and a welcome by the lovely staff, you know you are in for a good treat.
As we are seated at the bar, where we love to sit to be close to the bar team and to observe their creations, we are greeted by Head Bartender & Co-Founder Yugnes Susela and his team that introduces us to the spice box with many Indian spices infused in the drinks, like cardamom, vetiver, clove and many more. All of the ingredients used in the drinks are freshly sourced from Tekka Market and its surroundings, in celebration and inspiration from the culture, trade, people and history of Singapore’s Little India.
We started the journey with the Papadum and Trio Chutney (SG$10). A papadum, for those who are not familiar with this, is a seasoned flatbread made from dried dough of black gram bean flour. It is usually fried or cooked with dry heat until it is crunchy! In this instance, it was served with 3 types of chutney that rotate regularly. During our visit, we had the chilli, mint and coconut chutneys and are eaten in haste. We are also served a little welcome drink consisting of gin, ginger and coconut which washed away the chutney and got us started for our meal and the main lineup of cocktails.
As we look around the room, we notice it is full of oddities and designs inspired by Yugi. The designs are inspired by the Indian region of Jaipur with inspired architecture and royal design of some of the buildings. Having a drink here feels like we are somehow teleported to a cocktail bar in India. Pretty much our only way to travel nowadays in Singapore: through bars and restaurants!
Cocktails at The Elephant Room
We are privy to a whole host of cocktails, all with their very own story. With a carbonation and distilling kit behind the bar, the options that they have are nearly limitless. All their cocktails are priced at SG$24 which is a decent price for the quality of the drinks.
Goldsmith – Jackfruit distillate, saffron, fermented rose-honey, lotus root crisp
With gold being a show of wealth in India, this aptly named drink really has a mixture of smells and tastes. The jackfruit is the strongest but the lighter smells of saffron and rose honey are always prevalent. Thuymi ate the Lotus Root Crisps quite quickly as she downed the drink. The Goldsmith was one of our favourite drinks.
Pina Rasam – Rasam distillate, pineapple vinegar, clarified tomatoes
This drink is a mixture between sweet-sour and salty. This drink is more commonly associated with pineapple at Indian Weddings. So this is a little change-up from the traditional. Firstly, they distil the rasam and that creates a recognizable aroma. They then top a spiced pineapple vinegar and a clarified tomato as well. It is a lot like a Pina Colada and just as tasty.
Mr Desker – Indian whisky, curry distillate, soy meat
We found Mr Desker quite unique and something we have never tried as a combination in a cocktail! We have had Indian Whiskey but never with a curry distillation process. The soy meat finish was unusual but complimenting to the drink, though Thuymi probably would’ve like to have a few more of those! Also, did you know Desker Road is one of Singapore’s oldest and most famous red-light districts?
The Kheer – Indian whisky, sweetened cardamom, coconut caviar
We have only had Indian Whiskey when we were in India, so having it mixed in a thoughtful cocktail was a first for us. The coconut caviar you eat with the whiskey is tasty and really makes the drink special. In fact, we got an extra dosage of it as we wanted our own spoonful each!
Ayurveda – Indian gin, nilavembu, 10-day Lacto-fermented grapes, pickled gooseberry
The Ayurveda uses fruits and herbs commonly used in the Ayurveda practice. It has grapes that are Lacto-fermented for 10 days and a pickled gooseberry is also added for a taste of sourness. We loved the mixture of tastes in this cocktail.
Banana King – Roasted Banana Gin, Banana Skin Oleo, Sandalwood Aroma
As soon as this one hit the lips, we knew that this one was special. The Banana is often used for prosperity in Indian culture and is a celestial fruit. Mixed with banana and gin, with a carbonation hit and completed with a banana leaf coaster. One for the fruit lovers but was exceptionally smooth and easy to drink.
Food at The Elephant Room
Indian Fried Chicken Burger (SG$18): Spiced buttermilk chicken with a curry aoli and pickled onions.
This was one of the best burgers we have ever tried. Now I was not sure how it was going to taste when combining Fried Chicken with an Indian twist. But I am blown away at how good the aoli mixed with the burger. A MUST have if you are eating here. The bread they use is from a local bakery and compliments everything perfectly. I am already recommending this burger to all my friends.
The Elephant Room Curry Chicken (SG$23) Curry chicken served with Hoppers aka Putu Maym.
We had just polished off the burger when the Curry came out. Usually, we would not get this at a bar but the staff insisted it would be worth it. And they were right! The hoppers tasted amazing and the curry wasn’t too spicy. I loved this dish as a stand-alone meal, in fact, I ate Thuymi’s portion as well. The curry chicken was tender and boneless which made it great.
There is limited seating in the Elephant Room, so make sure to book nice and early to get a chair at the bar or table. On their chalkboard which is in the top centre of the bar, is a quote and a number. The number represents the days since they have opened the bar. They are updating the numbers on the board every day to remind us all to keep moving forward during tough times. We love this about the bar, they are human and just want to share the good with all their customers. With the catchphrase up on the chalkboard, “Cocktails and Curry is the only way the end racism” we couldn’t agree more and can’t wait to come back to have a lot more of both 🙂