It’s hard not to fall in love with a place like BeGin. Not only because it’s got a sizeable gin library to choose from, but also for its industrial chic interior and overall unpretentious vibe.
Located just upstairs from The Penny Black in Boat Quay, you have to go through the pub to access this speakeasy-like gin bar. It’s a totally different world from the pub downstairs. If the downstairs pub can be likened to a rowdy neighbourhood watering hole in Liverpool, then this gin bar can only be compared to a classic secret-societyesque establishment in downtown London.
BeGin is not only a gin bar that serves great cocktails, it also prides itself on offering its patrons a delightful mix of British Indian small bites. Why British India and why gin? According to its founders, it embodies the personality of a bar reminiscent of the industrial revolution, the gin craze and the heavy spice trade of yesteryear.
And indeed, every part of the menu is a strong representation of this. We started off by sampling the nacho del goa ($15 for 5 pieces), which are bite-sized pappadum with prawns and drizzled generously with butter sauce.
For something moreish, try their pappadum ($2 for 6 pieces) and their set of dips ($4). The dips are seasonal and this time, we got to indulge in the Asian salsa, a spiced cilantro, mint & coconut dip, tomato, chilli and ginger chutney as well as their onion raita. My personal favourites were the onion raita and tomato, chilli and ginger chutney. Both were very contrasting flavours - the onion raita was creamy, while the tomato chutney packed a punch. One round of pappadum was not enough for us to binge on - so we had 3 rounds!
Next, we tried the crab bomb-a ($13 for 5 pieces). This was easily the star of the entire meal. This crab curry and pani puri combination is mouth-watering and addictive! Don’t be surprised if you polish off an entire plate by yourself. The crunchiness of the shell complemented the flavourful fillings beautifully and won’t you agree that the presentation of this dish is absolutely stunning?
We continued our meal with BeGin’s take on curry puffs. The samboo-sa pasties ($11 for 3 pieces) are huge, almost palm-sized curry puffs, stuffed with copious amounts of tandoori chicken masala. This is a pretty filling dish and can easily be shared by 2-3 people.
The menu at BeGin is not extensive, with only 9 items on it. But every item is meaningful and perfectly executed. Much like this cheeky nigiri ($15 for 4 pieces). A play on Japanese sushi, the braised beef cheeks are laid across mounds of rice and finished off with some vindaloo sauce. It’s another dish that will fill you up quickly.
As we all know, fried food is one of the best accompaniments to alcohol. So it’s no surprise to us to find a dish like sticky fingers ($10 for 4 pieces), which is a tempura-like dish consisting okra stuffed with lamb kheema.
One of the best dishes at BeGin and an absolute must-try is their aloo ki tikki ($7 for 5 pieces). If you love potato cutlets, this will blow your mind. We had to have two servings of this because of how delicious it was. This is best eaten HOT, so don’t wait too long before biting into its soft core.
Next up, we had lolli-pop-de ($11 for 4 pieces), which were tandoori chicken served lollipop style and paired with a green, minty sauce. This is yet another great bar bite to order while having some drinks with friends.
Finally, our last dish was the bagain & rajah ($8 for 5 pieces). The vegan friendly dish is an eggplant stuffed zucchini, topped off with cheese. You’ll need to pick this up swiftly and eat it whole as the eggplant is pretty soft and might fall out.
We believe that these dishes have truly elevated the standard of bar bites and BeGin has checked every box for us with their offerings.
Read what we have to say about their cocktails in a post coming soon.