For a moment, imagine you’re in Singapore. The weather is sticky, hot and humid. At the ground floor of an office building, wedged between a co-working space and a gym, you discover a moody wine bar called Wine RVLT. With dark wooden tables, an exposed beam ceiling and more bottles of wine than will comfortably fit on its shelves, the bar feels decidedly un-tropical. It’s this very specific contradiction that inspired Benjamin Liew and Karl Tang to open Makan Wine Bar.

The pair, who met while working at Rundle Street restaurant Paper Tiger (they’ll continue to work there once Makan launches), wanted to open a similarly surprising venue – one that merges Eastern and Western wines and cooking and serves contemporary, chef-y food in a rustic and relaxed setting.

“We’ve been working together for one year, and we’ve been talking, on and off, about wine and food,” says Liew. “Whenever Karl tries a new wine for the Paper Tiger wine list, he will ask me to join. We taste it, and we discuss which dish it should be matched to on the current menu … [nowadays] we know what each other is thinking just by looking at each other.”

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While Liew already had an interest in wine, it was Tang who introduced him to the the intricacies of Australian drops, as well as natural wines from across the globe. And when the pair realised there was a distinct lack of Asian-focused wine bars in Adelaide, Makan Wine Bar was born. When it opens on Flinders Street later this week, the Southeast-Asian inspired venue will showcase almost 60 varieties of wine, from local small-batch bottles to their favourite international labels.

“One of our local legends – [winemaker] Travis Tausend – his Hey Pup carbonic shiraz matches our mains very well,” says Tang. “I also love our Japanese dessert wine. It’s actually from Yamanashi, Japan – [the label is] Grace Wine. You won’t really see it often – and it’s something that goes well with our ice-cream and other desserts.”

“Makan” means “to eat” in Malaysian, and the bar’s food menu certainly isn’t playing second fiddle to its drinks list. Indonesian, Malaysian, Japanese and Vietnamese-inspired dishes that pair well with wine are found across the menu, including a wing “gyoza” that Liew recommends all Makan first-timers try. “It’s a chicken wing without the bone, and we put in fish and scallop cake inside there – [like a] mousse,” he explains. “The flavour is sort of like a Thai fishcake.”

Also on the menu is a prawn doughnut (imagine a Chinese doughnut, stuffed with prawn meat), crispy capelin, Szechuan grilled eggplant and a 60-day dry-aged scotch fillet. “The [dry-aged] menu will evolve ... I bought three dry-age fridges,” says Liew. “We dry-age our meat ourselves, we dry-age our duck, and we’re going to dry-age our fish.”

The fit-out is appropriately playful and relaxed. Head to level one when you reach the building, and you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a ship-style cargo door. The loft-style bar features a large balcony space, and the playlist – soon to include live music, if all goes to plan – leans into the ’80s and ’90s.

Makan Wine Bar opens on Friday April 26 at Level 1, 116 Flinders Street, Adelaide.

@makan_winebar