Char kway teow elevated with wagyu beef, satay made from Iberico Pork, and chilli crab nachos made from scratch? Not to mention a tauhuay cocktail which blends kaya, beancurd and vodka. These aren’t things of the imagination, but menu offerings at Jekyll & Hyde, a cocktail bar and kitchen owned by Chua Ee Chien.
“Singapore is a food city, a food country,” he says. As an ode to Singapore, this bar serves up Mod-Sin cuisine that reimagine Singaporean soul food. Jekyll & Hyde is also home to innovative, whimsical concoctions.
Ee Chien’s road to being a food entrepreneur had its twists and turns. Having studied Public Relations in an American university, he began his career at Goldman Sachs, and eventually moved back to Singapore to work at Uber. Currently, he juggles a day job at Endowus and manages Jekyll & Hyde on the side.
How did he come to own Jekyll & Hyde?
Contrary to how it may seem, F&B was not something that Ee Chien fell into by accident.
3 years ago, after moving back to Singapore from the US, he became a regular at the bar.
“When I found out that the bar was on sale, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn something and try something new.”
A personal motto he lives by
In both his day job and as the owner of Jekyll & Hyde, Ee Chien keeps this motto close to him.
One of the lessons that I keep to heart and try my best to live by and endeavour to follow is: be kind and treat people nicely, and treat them well.
Working in F&B comes with its share of inevitable stresses. Things may go wrong in the kitchen or on the floor. Having to face unhappy customers is also part of the job in this line of work.
“It’s so easy to be mean, or grumpy or rude, or whatnot,” Ee Chien says. “But at the end of the day, being nice and being kind is what makes the world go around.”
Paying homage to Singapore’s hawkers and soul food
We really are taking these dishes and reimagining them.
Chef Alvin Tan, who was the Head Chef of Shanghai Dolly and Straits Clan, helms the kitchen.
For starters, Jekyll & Hyde’s Wagyu Beef Char Kway Teow ($28.89) requires a good cut of wagyu beef. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, the beef is cooked to medium-rare or medium. And as with any Char Kway Teow dish, a good amount of wok-hei must be infused into the noodles. Chef Alvin’s wok skills are to thank for the smokiness in the kway teow, Ee Chien says.
Served in an opeh (betel nut) leaf for deliveries, this not only adds a hint of fragrance but keeps the dish warm.
As for their signature cocktail, it’s the Mr. Bean ($23.55), which has been a crowd-favourite for years. It’s a concoction of tau huay or beancurd, Frangelico, butterscotch liqueur, vodka and kaya, which all comes together to become a light and refreshing drink.
“If you drink two or three, you might get a little tipsy,” Ee Chien says.
An industry where people strive together
Having stepped foot in both the corporate world and the food and beverage industry, Ee Chien tells us that it was a very different experience altogether. In F&B, he felt that everyone supported each other, and everyone takes care of each other.
“Everyone here is like: ‘Yeah! Let me help you with this, let me help you with that, let me help you with finding a supplier, let me help you find a plumber.’”
“We revel in each other’s success,” he shares.
Being in F&B isn’t always smooth-sailing. “Every day is a roller coaster but it is also rewarding.” But this deep-seated belief has helped him to overcome the most challenging moments:
One of the lessons that I learnt was, “I can do hard things.”
To Ee Chien, Jekyll & Hyde is not just an avenue to try new things or a place for him to learn something every day. It’s also about making people happy—whether it is his team of staff, or the loyal customers who return time and time again to soak in the bar’s atmosphere and to enjoy amazing soul food.