Having to rewrite by blog has been a blessing and a curse (for those who don’t know, it was hacked and deleted; with 10 years erased). I am sadden when I cannot reference my previous experiences, and heartbroken when I cannot use my work to recall precious memories. Though on the same token, happy that having to revisit restaurants has allowed me to go back to re-live favourites; and in this case retry ones that originally had poor reviews, and give them a second shake. Today what was once a do not recommend is now a great spot for drink AND food.
I originally visited Sing Sing when they first opened so many years ago. Back then, I went in hoping for a great pub, in a modern neighbourhood, offering tasty Asian food; and that is finally the case today.
They are hard to miss walking by. Neon lights advertise on the side of the building that “beer (is) served here” and a giant neon beer can with many more crushed ones below it, marks the entry way. It is an open space, brightly lit with natural lighting. Unlike other bars set with dark wood finishes, this one is airy in bleached furnishings. Seating is plentiful across larger, shareable, cafeteria style tables; individual rounds; and even bar seating at the back. And when the weather is warmer and the garage door exterior can be raised, the good vibration flows out in to their patio and on to the sidewalk. Sing Sing definitely deliveries on the vibe you think of when you hear the name Donnelly Group, the party purveyors that have brought the city the likes of lounges and hopping music/bar spots like Cinema, Republic, and Lamplighter.
It is so good to see them continuing to work on, evolve, and improve their food game; understanding that their customers want it all. A party with plenty of drinks, and the tasty eats to help them pace it all.
We visited during Happy Hour so took advantage for their $8 drink specials, saving $5 off regular highballs, shaken as expected. Their Margarita was refreshing with plenty of salt and lime. The Old Fashion was sharp with a smoother whiskey, but not hard hitting. Round 2 had us with a fizzy, ginger forward Moscow Mule. And a smokey Negroni with its relatable bitter orange essence.
Since we were here, dining in, I wanted to give a fair updated assessment of the place. So even though we weren’t hungry, I ordered enough food to look as if we were.
We started with a Steamed bun, because when was the last time you had a steamed BBQ pork bun at a bar? You order one at a time. It could have used more filling, in larger chunks. The meat was saucy and gummy, and it left me wanting more kick and depth of flavour. This one does not bare repeating at $3.50, and the size of a child makes fist. You can get a better and bigger bun, jammed packed with various fillings, from my go-to shop: New Town Bakery in Chinatown. And it will only cost you 25 cents more.
Having had beef pho the day before, we opted for the Lemon grass chicken pho today. Plus I don’t ever recall seeing lemon grass pho on any other menu. As expected, this version was much leaner than one would be, prepared in pork broth. A little bland for my tastes and the chicken meat was dry, but at least the latter was fixable. You were able to adjust the flavour using any combination of the three sauces provided on the side. And considering the diversity in the room, this was a good idea. This way everyone can have it just the way they like it. As for myself, I couldn’t help but compare it to traditional pho, so the more I ate it the less I liked it. So order this one expecting at fusion take, much like the dish below.
From Chinese to Vietnamese, and now Italian. As I mentioned earlier, effort was put into elevating their food. The Panchetta and pineapple pizza was a Sing Sing collaboration with Chef Mike Robbins, the local Chef behind Anna Lena. One of seven collaborative seasonal menu items currently available. Other items that spans their entire menu includes dumplings, tartare, vegan fried cauliflower, a chicken katsu burger, a tuna melt, and five spice bolognese spaghettini.
The Pancetta & Pineapple was prepared with sweet chili, tomato, mozzarella, and we added on the pickled jalapeños for $2 extra. This was a deliciously gourmet pizza. As a fan of pineapple on pizza for the sweet juiciness that balances out all that salty meats and tangy tomato, this was a winner. It never dawned on me that pineapple slices on a pizza can be this large. And as a result there was a higher sweet fruit to great chewy dough ratio. I ordered a side of ranch dip, as I typically have my pizza with ranch, but found I didn’t need it with this rendition. However, be warned it is much better fresh than as leftovers. So order to finish.
This was definitely better than what I remembered. Given how much depth their food has now, I would not be opposed to returning back to Sing Sing as a restaurant to have a meal at, and maybe a drink. Not just a spot where you only go to grab a drink at. Where else can you get Chinese, Vietnamese, and Italian all in one sitting?
2718 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8