The sea urchin pudding at Lolla
Update: On a return visit, we managed to secure two walk-in seats at the bar on a Wednesday night. The half portion of sea urchin pudding (half is plenty – $19; full portion $36) is as rich and refreshing as before, made with in-season sea urchin roe (they purvey it from the different seas, depending on season); the tuna belly tartare ($39) is cubes of chutoro (medium fatty tuna) tossed in a umami-laden sauce; and the doughnuts with lemon curd ($12) is ever impressive – fried to order, the dough is light, warm, served with a slightly tart bright lemon curd that begs to be licked off the plate. Service is personable and knowledgeable, and they're good at knowing when to leave you alone to add to the chatter of the atmosphere. They've done good to maintain standards.
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5
Must eats: Grass-fed ribeye steak, scrambled eggs with bottarga di muggine, smoked chocolate ice cream
They don’t call themselves a tapas bar, but a rose by another name is just as sweet; along the same veins, a 'small plates concept restaurant' by another label is just as delicious.
|Photo: Koh Yuen Lin|
In case you are wondering, 'Lolla' is not named after the showgirl who worked at Copacabana. Rather, the name comes from Lollapalooza – the wine purveyor that also organises Lolla’s Secret Suppers. Needless to say, Lollapalooza’s proprietor Pang Hian Tee is an owner – together with Lee Chin Sin and Thaddeus Yeo of Le Bistro and three other partners.
The idea had been in incubation for more than a year, and things were only put into motion when the space – previously the office of local design firm Asylum – came along. Incidentally, Asylum also designed the restaurant’s industrial-meets-Victorian chic branding and minimalist interiors of this 13-seat open-kitchen restaurant with a 22-seat private room in the basement.
|"Scrambled barn-laid eggs cooked perfectly moist and just slightly runny, is topped with shavings of cured mullet roe rich with the flavours of the sea laced with a natural sweetness. Pure deliciousness."|
The idea is to serve inspired yet simple small plates combining the finest ingredients and seasonal produce with the influences of the Mediterranean. This means that, for them, sourcing for the best ingredients is the first step to making a great dish. So they are as proud of a no-frills board of hand shaved Cinco Jotas jamón ibérico de bellota (Spanish brand 'Five 'J'' acorn-fed Iberico ham, $42), and a tin of plump, Don Bocarte anchovies ($24), as they are of dishes that showcase their simple but effective cooking style.
A prime – pardon the pun – showcase of this is their grass-fed ribeye steak ($52). Served medium-rare, the 300g steak is good for sharing – even though you might not want to because it’s nicely salted, perfectly robust in flavour, and irresistibly juicy. Also incredibly simple yet utterly delicious is the dish of scrambled eggs with bottarga di muggine (grey mullet roe, $22). Scrambled barn-laid eggs from The Freedom Range Company, cooked perfectly moist and just slightly runny, is topped with shavings of cured mullet roe rich with the flavours of the sea laced with a natural sweetness. Pure deliciousness.
|Grass-fed ribeye steak, served medium rare | Photo: Koh |
Another easy-winner is the sea urchin pudding ($19). The serving of squid ink pudding in a miniature tureen topped with a whole tongue of urchin may look small, but the rich flavours makes it good enough for two. The pudding – made with a base similar to a crème brulee and redolent of the sweetness of squid ink, cut through by just a hint of tangy tomato – is good even on its own.
For dessert, Lolla worked with local ice-cream makers – Creamier at Toa Payoh – to produce scoops of bespoke, seasonal flavours. Our favourite is the smoked chocolate ice cream ($9) with a hint of bitterness from the smoke. Sweet and familiar like the girl-next-door yet with a hint of smoke for a sexy, unexpected edge, it is chocolate ice cream for grown-ups.
The fuss-free, delicious food, friendly service and groovy atmosphere makes this a place where one can have a great experience whether dining alone or with a group. There’s also a small but very well-curated and well-priced selection of wines for those who want to imbibe. Do note however that reservations are taken only for bookings of the private events and use of the private room – and the place gets packed by about 8pm – so come early.
Lolla | Address: 22 Ann Siang Road S345269 | Tel: 64231228 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight
Koh Yuen Lin has a decade of experience in the publishing industry and was formerly the editorial director for Ate Media and managing editor of Appetite magazine. She is currently an independent editorial consultant contributing to various local and regional publications. Koh maintains that while her peers are overachieving, she is just over-eating.