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Potted greens, pastel hues, and homely outdoor furniture by Danish design house Hay mark the location of Hej Kitchen & Bar. Situated on Emerald Hill along Orchard Road, it’s a welcoming sight in a place overrun with glitzy shopping malls and loud billboards. The name, in Swedish, is pronounced as ‘hey’, and means exactly what it sounds like: a welcome.

This casual al fresco diner, which was once named Odd One Out, is part of Peranakan Place, a colourful complex that also house popular nightlife venues Acid Bar and Alley Bar. It’s breezy with a cosy ambience, and the white-washed timber deck makes for a great spot to people-watch from. And the menu? An extensive assortment of appetisers, entrees, pizzas, sandwiches, snacks, and desserts.

 

Order the Margherita Al Funghi Pizza ($24), which is great for sharing. It’s prepped with mixed mushroom, tasty pomodoro sauce, and a fragrant dose of truffle oil to up the flavour. The spicy fried calamari is decent, but lacks the same kick as the Crispy Chicken Crackling ($15): bite-sized fried chicken skins with a fragrant ginger-rojak dressing that together, is both savoury and sweet.

Want actual chicken meat? There’s no rejecting a good Har Cheong Kai ($12), the timeless hawker favourite that’s been elevated with a signature shrimp paste seasoning, crunchy skin, and soft, flavourful flesh – arguably some of the best in town. The Crispy Buttermilk Chicken ($26), marinated with cajun spices and served on a crunchy Belgium waffle, is also quite tasty.

If you’re still hungry, get the Angus Beef Lasagne ($20) that the chef makes from scratch with fresh bolognese and pasta sheets. His creamy béchamel sauce is outstanding, topped with a blend of mozzarella and parmesan cheese layer by layer. If not, a warm plate of Homemade Churros ($12) awaits. That said, the churros itself is not particularly outstanding, but the Valrhona chocolate ganache (Dark Guanaja 70%, obviously) is fabulous.

Happy hour starts early here. Six, eight, and 10 are the only numbers you need to know, as house pour spirits, wines, and beers go for less than $10 from 12pm to 7pm. Day drinking in between bouts of shopping is cool, after all. Not one for the cheap stuff? Hej also has a collection of cocktail specials, including a delicious Apple Shandy ($20) that’s mixed with Courvoisier cognac, apple liqueur, sparkling lemon-lime soda and a whiff of rosemary. But really, how about serving it in something other than a dim sum basket?

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Hej Kitchen & Bar is located at 180 Orchard Rd, Peranakan Place, Singapore 238846. Open Sun-Thu 5pm – 2am, Fri-Sat 5pm – 3am.