lolla uni pudding

Lolla’s Small Intimate Kitchen Dishes out Strong Massive Flavours

Standing before Lolla’s shopfront before your dinner is a slightly quizzical experience. The facade suggests a small, cramped shophouse space that feels more apt as the setting for a modishly bohemian speakeasy than one of Singapore’s most beloved hidden restaurant gems.

lolla review singapore

Stepping inside does little to change the mind as it is set up exactly like that. There’s the main counter, a small open kitchen, and a scramble of seats encircling it. While open kitchen concepts are in vogue, few have it so condensed into so small a space, with the kitchen swallowing up the bulk of the real estate.

In a way, there’s an odd appeal to it. There’s intimacy and there’s the experience of witnessing the team at work, ala chef table — just with less pomp. The benefit of the front row seats also entitles excited diners to the theatrics of fire, smoke, and a smorgasbord of temptatious aromas wafting towards you.

lolla restaurant singapore

While there is a charm to the set-up, there does feel to be slight redundancy since the kitchen team generally eschewed interaction with me and my dining partner. There’s still a personable, rustic, almost-hipster charm to Lolla, nonetheless.

What’s more — this quaint dwelling, which is more known to discerning gourmands than the general public, recently celebrated its induction as No. 75 amongst Asia’s Top 100 Restaurants. Size doesn’t matter, after all.

The Holy Trinity

lolla review sourdough kombu butter

Ultimately, food is still the deciding factor so we’d let the food do the talking. Lolla actually started off on an immensely strong foot, almost delivering a knockout with three blockbuster hits.

The opener of Toasted Sourdough ($8) with Kombu Butter ($12) was stunning. Each butter molecule was ingrained with the most sapid, most gratuitous umami that left us on cloud nine as we chomped down on the crusty sourdough slices in an involuntarily ungraceful manner.

 

lolla restaurant sea urchin pudding

Despite Lolla’s hidden gem status, one dish from their menu has garnered quite a reputation through word of mouth — the Sea Urchin Pudding ($38/65). Keeping with the trend of massive, assertive flavours, it similarly hit ferociously like a raging tidal wave. 

Oceanic and briney in profile, it’s built up starting from a salty squid ink pudding base while smears of Uni bolstered it with that iconic sweet richness. Atop the flavours, you’re also pampered with sublime textures as the silky Uni melded into the airy custard-esque base. The price is a touch exorbitant but this is a luxury indulgence.

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Three strikes and you’re out — Lolla came really close to blowing our minds with another stunner, the Burnt Cabbage ($22). As austere as a head of cabbage may sound, not many produce hit as satisfyingly as a well-cooked cabbage.

Breaking the urban myth of vegetables being healthy, they drown the cabbage in a lavish deluge of butter and crispy capers. Be prepared for a decadent blitz on the plate as hefty umami and smokiness come rushing in, before the lighter, daintier touches of balsamic and ricotta balance it out.

More importantly, Lolla gives the cabbage the star treatment it deserves, leaving every inch tender and succulent while frayed edges are coloured with provocative shades of brown and gold.

The Magic Wears off

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If the meal had ended there, Lolla would be in contention for one of my all-time favourite restaurants in Singapore. Alas, things don’t always end well — enter the Hand Torn Pasta ($39).

This is one of the most shoddily prepared plates of pasta I’ve had, candidly. As a whole, it had little nuance, and it was flooded with butter to the point of unctuous tedium. To cap it all off, the pasta was even soggy. As I always say: “I’m easy to please, just hard to impress.”  And this struggled to get remotely close to a passing grade.

lolla review

They salvaged the situation slightly with the subsequent heavy proteins in the Tongue n’ Cheek ($38), featuring sticks of pork cheek and beef tongue.

Undoubtedly tricky proteins to handle, texture-wise, but these were rendered tender and juicy, if slightly too fibrous. That said, the sweetness of yakitori sauce was fettering the full richness of the skewers — toning it down a little will allow them to shine.

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Lolla is a unique experience. In a busy city where even the quintessentially intimate restaurants are getting aggrandised,  it feels like food is the main focus and you don’t feel the pressure of a Michelin star looming over them.

The food is sincere, the flavours are bold and with a few tweaks, it could become one of my favourite restaurants for a casual dinner in Singapore.

Make your reservations here.

Lolla Restaurant

Website | Facebook | Instagram

  • Address:22 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069702
  • Hours: (Mon–Thurs) 12pm–2:30pm, 6pm–11pm, (Fri–Sat) 5:30pm–11pm

 

2 thoughts on “Lolla

  1. My eyes hurt from your smarty words says:

    “In a busy city where even the quintessentially intimate restaurants are getting aggrandised,” — the sentence doesn’t make any sense at all with the use of the word “aggrandised”. I don’t think you know when to use words correctly in a sentence.

    • “In a busy city where even the quintessentially intimate restaurants are getting aggrandised…”

      In a busy city: Singapore has many cars and people are always on the move, thus it’s a busy city!

      Quintessential: “Being the most typical example or most important part of something.” (adjective, transformed into an adverb through the -ly suffix, meant to modify the following adjective.)

      Intimate: “Private and personal.” (adjective)

      Restaurant: “A place where people pay to sit and eat meals that are cooked and served on the premises.” (noun)

      Aggrandise: “Enhance the reputation of (someone) beyond what is justified by the facts.”

      or

      “to make great or greater: INCREASE, ENLARGE.” (verb)

      So it may be construed as: “In Singapore, where even the most well-known examples of private and cosy restaurants (such as Burnt Ends which I linked for context, which used to operate out of a tiny space at Keong Saik!) are:

      (1) Getting a crazy amount of press beyond what you’d expect from these usually quaint and less crowded places.

      (2) Being the subject of makeovers or relocations that see a significant enlargement in size, vis-a-vis their prior cosy and small spaces.

      Hope you got a better understanding of my sentence, now if it was too convoluted. Sorry for the confusion, not one of the best-constructed sentences. Maybe it’s because I was acquainted with the word on Merriam-Webster which listed one of its meanings as simply “enlargement” and tried to also make use of the alternate meaning too.

      Alas, I might have interpreted the dictionary entry incorrectly and wasn’t privy to a more “accurate” colloquial usage of the term — thanks for pointing it out, will keep it in mind in the future!

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