Live razor clams are cooked beautifully with tomatoes and chorizo. Photo by JASON HO
SINGAPORE - It wouldn't be an understatement to say that small plates are the latest big thing in dining out these days. As restaurateur Thaddeus Yeo put it, "you can't swing a cat in this town without hitting a small plates restaurant". Not only is he right, he's also a part of the trend. Yeo, along with five other partners, is behind six-week-old Lolla, a small plates restaurant that's already hot on the lips of Singapore's hip and happening gourmands.
This has as much to do with Lolla's industrial chic vibe, created by Asylum Studio, as it does with the simple, unpretentious food dished out by self-taught chef Ming. The restaurant is a partnership between Yeo and Lee Chin Sin, both of whom own the popular Le Bistrot at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, as well as Pang Tien Hee, who is behind Lolla's Secret Supper Club, which explains the restaurant's name. They have three other silent partners.
The sea urchin pudding is simple yet inspired. Photo by JASON HO
The menu here is produce-driven rather than cuisine-driven, says Yeo. In his own words, it's "ang moh jiak". So you have the ubiquitous tapas staples like Spanish tortilla (which they serve with smoked eel, S$19) and Iberico ham (S$42), but there are also some creative dishes such as sea urchin pudding (S$19).
This is a simple yet inspired dish of a squid ink-tinged custard backed with a bit of tomato puree to lift its otherwise iodine-heavy flavour. On top are raw, fresh sea urchins to give it extra richness and a different layer of creamy texture.
Meanwhile, beef tongue is first braised, thinly sliced and then pan-fried (S$25) to yield meltingly tender slivers that are served with vinegary red cabbage to cut through their richness. There are also board specials, which last week included a fabulous live razor clam (S$25) cooked quickly and beautifully with piquant San Marzano tomatoes and salty chorizo.
Few small plate restaurants do dessert well and Lolla looks to be the exception. They have cleverly chosen to serve ice cream made by local company Creamier in delightful flavours like smoked chocolate (S$9). A steamed dark chocolate pudding (S$15) was also simple and comforting - a dessert that leaves a happy warmth in your belly.
Lolla, restaurant interior. Photo by JASON HO
Where: 22 Ann Siang Road
Telephone: 6423 1228
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 5pm to midnight