Synthesis: Modern bar hidden behind a TCM shopfront showcasing Asian fusion flavours

By Evan Mua March 3, 2023
Synthesis: Modern bar hidden behind a TCM shopfront showcasing Asian fusion flavours
Synthesis is an exciting concept that marries heritage with modern edge. Photos: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere
Table of Contents

Suntec City’s newest tenant has attracted many confused gazes from passers-by.

Its storefront is reminiscent of a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shop and medical hall, with vintage adornments (think dark oak cabinets and shelves filled with apothecary glass jars) and rustic wooden finishing, complete with an oriental signboard. 

There’s even the musky aroma of Chinese herbs, thanks to the motley of herbs on display.

If you’ve been bewildered by the sight of this old-school addition to a modern shopping mall, you’re not alone. Surprise — it’s not actually a TCM hall, as realistic as it looks (and smells).

02 ev-synthesis bar-hidden tcm bar singapore-HungryGoWhere
The wooden signage bears the calligraphic representation of Synthesis’ Mandarin name. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

The shop’s lifelike medicine drawers are not, in fact, all drawers either. One segment serves as a door — it slides open to reveal a secret neon-lit passageway that leads you into the swanky main area of a speakeasy, Synthesis.

Recently opened in February, Synthesis is a creative new concept by Sebastian Ang, also the brains behind the wildly viral Mama Diam — a whimsical gastrobar that pays homage to the mama shops that many of us grew up with.

03 ev-synthesis bar-hidden bar singapore-HungryGoWhere
The secret entrance transports you to a whole different world. Photos: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Like the tenets of TCM, Synthesis hopes to strike a balance between Singapore’s time-honoured traditions and modernity, while providing a sensorial experience.

Take the secret entrance, which welcomes diners with a flourish through its breathtaking shophouse alleyway that’s lit with a captivating array of neon lights and lanterns.

Once you enter the main dining area, it’s a whole other ambience altogether. The space is posh and intimate, exuding chic modernity with just slight touches of tradition. You can spot elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth through striking fixtures, such as its shiny ripple-textured roof.

06 ev-synthesis bar-suntec city restaurant-pani puri-HungryGoWhere
The menu features many creative tweaks to classic dishes, such as the pani puri. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

The menu at Synthesis focuses mostly on reimagining local classics or incorporating head chef Ezekiel Tan’s favourite nostalgic flavours into elevated spins.

A good example of that is the “Xia Hua” charcoal youtiao (S$18), a prawn-paste-stuffed youtiao (Chinese fried dough) that reminds one of the beloved rojak dish, as well as the snow crab chawanmushi (S$22) that playfully riffs on the three-egg formula, combining custardy steamed egg with ikura and salted egg.

05 ev-synthesis bar-suntec city restaurant-laksa prawn tartare-HungryGoWhere
Synthesis serves laksa cold… in gelato form. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

One of the more audacious reimaginings has to be the laksa prawn tartare (S$22) that features prawn tartare, Pringles potato chips, and a housemade laksa gelato that boasts intoxicating laksa aromatics.

Besides that, there’s also the flavourful pani puri with cold assam curry (S$22), a crispy hollow Indian street snack that’s filled with a robust mix of lemongrass cream and cured Atlantic salmon.

07 ev-synthesis bar-suntec city restaurant-hakka abacus seed-HungryGoWhere
This ingenious pasta spin features bouncy Hakka abacus seeds. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Synthesis also has pasta aficionados covered, with an array of creatively tweaked pasta classics including the glazed pork satay bee hoon (S$28) and “suan pan zi” truffle carbonara (S$30).

Gnocchi lovers would enjoy the latter, as the chewy and bouncy Hakka abacus seeds mimics the texture of pan-fried gnocchi. This was a standout dish, showcasing complex textures and a moreishly creamy truffle carbonara sauce.

08 ev-synthesis bar-suntec city restaurant-herbal chicken pao fan-HungryGoWhere
This comforting dish reminds us of rice drenched in herbal chicken sauce. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

The nourishment that people typically associate with TCM can also be peeped through certain dishes such as the sakura chicken herbal “pao fan” poached rice (S$24).

Instead of the usual seafood broth, this dish features wholesome herbal pork collagen soup that sublimely accentuates the components of grilled chicken, umami rice, puffed rice, herbal fritters, and egg floss — a comforting dish that’ll help with those hangovers.

09 ev-synthesis bar-suntec city restaurant-rainbow bread ice cream-HungryGoWhere
Everyone’s childhood-favourite rainbow-bread ice cream — elevated. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Sometimes, the simplest childhood treats make the best desserts. Synthesis tugs on the heartstrings here with its quirky “ice-cream sandwich” that was another highlight of the meal.

The rainbow bread sandwich (S$6) is simple. Diners are given a choice between the flavours of herbal peppermint or honey osmanthus, which are rested upon toasted rainbow bread that remains gratifyingly crunchy throughout.

04 ev-synthesis bar-suntec city restaurant-HungryGoWhere
Decor, drinks and food are all tastefully handled. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

The food is the main focus here, but the gastrobar also provides an array of unique cocktails for anyone in need of a drink

There’s the refreshing roselle gin highball (S$22) and sweet basilicious kaya (S$24) for those who aren’t extremely keen on liquor, while those who prefer something punchier can go for the unique goji-roni (S$24) that injects a touch of goji sweetness into the classic negroni.

While such an ambitious concept runs the risk of becoming a gimmicky, style-over-substance experience, Synthesis is as smoothly and tastefully executed as they come.

Book a ride to this cool hidden bar.

Synthesis 食拿酒稳

Suntec City Tower 4, 01-643, 6 Temasek Boulevard
Nearest MRT station: Promenade
Open: Monday to Sunday (4pm to 11pm)

Suntec City Tower 4, 01-643, 6 Temasek Boulevard
Nearest MRT station: Promenade
Open: Monday to Sunday (4pm to 11pm)

Evan Mua


Evan started off writing about food on Instagram, before joining outlets such as Buro and Confirm Good to pursue his passion. His best work usually comes after his first whisky shot in the morning.

Read More
Scroll to top