I stumbled onto club street by chance. I was walking through Singapore's Chinatown, when I realized I was lost. I turned my map this way and that and finally pinpointed my location: the corner of Club Street and Ann Siang Road--in a part of Chinatown where there was supposedly nothing to see and no reason to linger. But I couldn't believe how beautiful crooked, narrow Club Street was, lined with old two- and three-story buildings.
Looking closer, I noticed that I was standing in front of a wine bar. And next to it was a sushi bar, an Italian café, a Szechuan restaurant--almost every building on the street displayed a menu. This, I would soon discover, is where young Singapore comes to play. I returned to Club Street to eat almost every night that week, dining on veal tagine, eel tempura, sautéed frog's legs, garlicky escargots with vintage Barolo. Those escargots were at L'Angelus, a bistro that seems to have been airlifted directly from Paris--snails, rattan chairs, surly waiters and all--because it was.
Singapore has long been known for its great restaurants, but most operate out of high-end hotels or shiny, sterile shopping centers, and many impose strict dress codes. About the only casual alternative has been to eat outdoors on plastic benches at one of the city's hundreds of food courts, known as hawker stalls. Club Street restaurants are redefining Singapore's food scene, serving inventive, eclectic cuisine with plenty of style and an anything-goes attitude. More than a dozen restaurants have opened there so far, and the street is only four blocks long.