lo quay

Lo Quay: Modern Vietnamese Restaurant in Singapore boldly challenges traditions

Vietnamese food in Singapore usually adheres to a formula of homey, fuss-free spaces and safely traditional grub. There’s unlimited charm to the tried-and-tested blueprint but we wonder: what if Vietnamese food was reinterpreted with a modern edge?

lo quay

That change is exactly what the swanky Lo Quay at Telok Ayer aspires for — the concept pushes back against the inertia and challenges traditions with bodacious pizzazz.

Taking over the shophouse unit that once housed convivial hotspot California Republic, Lo Quay revives the space as a dusky hideout that balances modern sophistry and grungy spunk

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At the pass and orchestrating the kitchen is Chef Quynh Brown, a chef backed by years of experience in the kitchens of global titans such as Nobu and Zuma. 

Holding her Vietnamese roots —and memories of her grandfather— snug against her heart, her vision is one for a contemporary flavour fling that marries those nostalgic flavours with Japanese and European elements.

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Supporting Chef Quynh from the back are gastronomical mavericks The Dandy Collection, purveyors of similarly swanky and non-conformist fusion darlings such as Firangi Superstar.

This partnership could perhaps be seen as a match made in heaven.

Lo Quay, not Low Key

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How exactly does one reinvigorate Vietnamese cuisine — that’s something for guests to explore under the supervision of Chef Quynh in an aptly named Discover Menu (S$148).

Lo Quay’s style of contemporary fusion quickly makes an impression on diners with a strong quartet of snacks, some subtle with their Vietnamese influences but mostly skewing towards Japanese or European in scope.

It’s all sagaciously paced as the refreshingly herbaceous medley of Datterino Tomato with Soursop and Shiso enters the frame first, before a more intense triad arrives.

lo quay review

The ensemble had an order to it: start with the zingy and silky Amberjack with Pomegranate and Umezuke and end with the robustly flavoured and texturally interesting Wagyu Tartare and Onsen Egg on Shrimp Salt Puffs.

But it’s the middle child that stood out the most as Lo Quay’s bite-sized Pate Choux with Scallop and Ikura boasted a Banh-Mi-esque guise but ended up as a seafood-forward flavour bomb that balanced an endearing funk up against its potent base umami.

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Whilst not outwardly Vietnamese either, echoes of those Asian inflexions continue to be found shrewdly stuffed into facets of Lo Quay’s menu. 

For example, the battered Jackfruit, Tomato and Tamarind that followed showcased more esoteric regional flavours, packed into a mellowly earthy vegetarian twist on croquettes with juicy and clean-tasting shredded jackfruit.

It’s also transiently present in the Orsiblue Prawns with Sticky Rice — crunchy, luscious prawns encrusted in sticky rice puffs and emboldened with XO sauce for a splash of comforting richness.

lo quay review

But the highlight of the starters was undoubtedly the Oyster with Bone Marrow and Caviar.

Instead of just one, Lo Quay tucks a trio of plump Murotsu Bay oysters under a cosy blanket of creamy seared Hollandaise and bone marrow. Sapid and briny with a gush of juice — it’s hard to find cooked oyster dishes this good in restaurants.

Is this Vietnamese food?

lo quay pho

Within the Vietnamese canon, certain staples are so recognisable and so iconic, riffs feel almost sacrilegious — making them doubly pertinent to Lo Quay’s bold, tradition-challenging cooking.  Instead of hearty bowls brimming with soup, the Pho Bo presents itself as a redux of the staple rice noodle dish.

The dish’s essence is encapsulated into a suite of jammy eggs and crunchy beef tendon, which play second fiddle to the clean broth, some of the most comforting Pho-style beef broth.

It’s clean but rich with depth and kissed with elegant herbaceousness — essentially an idealised version of the broth. Alas, the portion size does make it only a fleeting enjoyment.

lo quay banh mi

With redux as Lo Quay’s main modus operandi, the lusty flavours and irresistible textures of the Banh Mi are similarly tangled and twisted into a one-bite wonder in the follow-up course.

Reconstructed with a flaky choux puff as the sheath, it condenses the usual motley of cold cuts, sauce, and herbs into a palm-sized sphere.

All the flavours anticipated are delivered and the texture is a succinct summary of the crunch and the bounce — but as with the Pho, the portions do leave us hankering for me.

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But perhaps the complaints of Lo Quay’s portioning were harsh as the finale soon elucidated the importance of portion control. Among four options, the Duck came out as our main of choice, up against competition such as Lamb, Seabass, and MB7 Wagyu,

Technically, this was a faultless duck, a picture-pink centre providing blissful succulence. But more than just marvellous duck, the dish hinges on a dup of mildly sweet chocolate hoisin sauce and dreamily luscious cipollini onions to bestow a sexily complex finish.

To close it all off: a very simple but well-done plated dessert that emulates that charmingly saccharine mix of caramel and milk that Vietnamese milk coffee, Ca Phe Sua Da, is known for.

So what does Lo Quay offer? First and foremost, it applies a lacquer of refinement to a cuisine that’s underexplored in Singapore’s restaurant scene.

At its base, it’s a bodacious project that’s intimately Quynh Brown — one that elevates rustic flavours with a sheen of modernity and experimental reinterpretation.

Perhaps it might struggle to convince traditionalists, but Lo Quay is a Vietnamese experience that’s truly unlike any.

Make a reservation online before you visit Lo Quay.

Lo Quay

Website |  Instagram | Facebook

  • Address: 88 Amoy St, Singapore 069907
  • Hours: (Mon–Fri) 12pm to 2:30pm, 6pm to 11pm, (Sat) 6pm to 11pm

*This was an invited tasting.


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