In the continuation of our Asian travel series, Rebecca Anne Milford goes in search of the best places to drink and dine in fascinating Singapore. Here, she heads to must-visit destination hotspot Ce La Vi – high above the glittering city.
Entering the main hub of Singapore for the first time, when travelling from the airport and traversing the Nicoll Highway, is quite the experience. After an expanse of motorway, billboards and sprawled restaurants, suddenly the true glory of the city is visible. A bridge stretches across the Kallang River, leading to a dazzling forest of pearly sky-scrapers that loom like a kind of majestic utopia. To the left ones eye is caught by Marina Bay – partly due to the bizarre and brilliant architecture that dominates the scene. The Singapore Flyer is their version of the London Eye; there are futuristic pods and enclosed botanical gardens. And then don’t be surprised if you do a double take, because floating high above the city is a ginormous ship.
Well okay, not exactly floating and not exactly a ship. This is SkyPark, resting atop three hotel towers as part of Marina Bay Sands – one of the world’s most impressive and expensive casino, resort and entertainment structures that opened officially in 2010. It also happens to be the only place to head if you want breath-taking views of the city while sipping an expertly made cocktail. Ce La Vi is the topmost bar and restaurant destination, crowning the pinnacle of the tower at 200 meters and offering delicious Asian cuisine, fabulous drinks and a 360 degree view of the city.
Atmosphere and Decor
We headed there on a Tuesday night, making our way to the 57th floor at 6.30pm, just before sundown . The crowd was already buzzing with a mixture of excitable tourists with cameras, stylish Singaporeans catching up over drinks, and groups of friends wanting a tasty meal in an unrivalled al fresco setting. The atmosphere was one of festival frivolity – the dizzying height bringing out that excited, childish thrill in people. The city unfolded below like a three-dimensional map – lights twinkled into brightness as the stars did the same in the sky above – and this is really all the aesthetic stimulation needed. But it’s wonderfully complemented with the chic garden-party vibe that has been cultivated on the rooftop – comfy sofas for lounging; cheerful red umbrellas shielding wooden tables; garlands of fairy-lights strung between trees and potted plants. As the sun sunk below the horizon and the twilight spread across the city, more lanterns shone into the night, and a DJ added to the trendy atmosphere that perfectly reflects the cool ethos of the place.
We were lucky enough to be served by the dapper Leo, who not only looked as stylish as his surroundings with an on-point pocket square, but was evidently an expert in the art of hospitality. We were more than happy to hear his suggestions from the menu, and what followed was a banquet of Asian delights that was so good they managed to tear our eyes from the surrounding view.
Cocktails at Ce La Vi reflect the surrounding – they are elevated to further heights, taking exotic ingredients and making them even more thrilling. While classics like the Summer Cup were executed perfectly, the menu is a delight for cocktail fans. To really get into the luxe garden-party vibe, sip on the signature Green Garden – a refreshing and fragrant mix of elderflower and fresh lime, paired with cooling cucumber and gin. Martini lovers will fall head over heels for the Kiku Vesper – an exotic version of Ian Fleming’s classic with gin, yuzu shochu and homemade dry sake tonic. And for a tropical twist on a whisky cocktail, look no further than the Whisky Charlie Mango – Auchentoshan single malt with homemade mango cordial, the zing of lemon and some tongue-tingling chilli bitters.
Ce La Vi know that food in such as glamorous surroundings as this needs to be sexy – and so the dishes they deliver have maximum style while also staying true to delivering outstanding taste. The menu is Asian-inspired, and perfect for sharing. This is a good thing, as it means ordering a table-full of items and working your way through. Whether chowing down on the Seared Beef Tataki (positively melts in the mouth), or enjoying the Wild Snapper Sashimi with fresh truffle, every mouthful is a burst of perfectly combined flavours. Sushi lovers HAVE to try the Spicy Tuna Rolls, with their tantalising crispy crunch, while the main course that had me hooked was the Roasted Black Cod. Flaking apart in a pool oF Shishito, pickled red onions, lemon, it was worth the visit just to try that dish alone. And no visit to Ce La Vi would be complete without trying their sumptous desserts. The most impressive was undoubtably the Coconut-Pandan Verrine – a combination of tropical fruit cream, coconut sorbet and whipped pandan foam that left a whisp of radiant flavour long after the last morsel was scraped clean.
Ce La Vi means, in French, ‘This Is Life’. And standing at these dizzying heights, taking in the pure scope of the city while sipping divine cocktails, you can see why. There’s a magical magnetism to the place – where anything could happen, and people are drawn in like moths to a flame. This is reflected in the ultra professional staff and top quality drinks and dishes, that make the restaurant worth a visit even without the astounding view. No visit to Singapore would be complete without a trip here, because Ce La Vi have created a feast for the senses that perfectly captures the frisson of energy from the bustling city below, and makes you realise just how wonderful it is to be alive.