Lolla's probably one of the most hyped-up new restaurants to have opened on our shores for a while, one of the places everyone raves about, from our good friend DY in the Business times to other food bloggers to friends posting on facebook, all of whom have descended down upon this latest hot spot in town at Ann Siang. A really chic place, Lolla's centrepiece is the open kitchen where people watch from their counters at the chefs preparing tasty morsels of everything good and wonderful.
We were greeted by the effusive chef Ming, who happens to be one of our juniors from middle school! What a nice coincidence - my dining companion recognised him as one of his juniors from cca and that really started the night on a good note.
I must say that service on a whole was great - the waiters appear to genuinely love their jobs and enjoy providing good service, which is a great thing - overall on the whole I think the service industry in Singapore has improved steadily, which is always a good thing.
Since we couldn't decide what to order, Ming took the orders himself, and we ordered, for 2 of us, the Sea-Urchin and Squid ink pudding (one each, since we'd be hard-pressed to be convinced to share), the daily special of Normandy vegetable (i can't quite remember the name - someone's gotta help me) in olive oil and shallots; another seasonal special of clams with some chorizo; the lamb ribs, and a sunny-side up eggs with chorizo and potatoes.
First up , we had the sea urchin and squid ink pudding - and if there's one word to describe this, it would be - decadence. This dish is decadence personified. The squid ink pudding had lots of umami, seafood savoury flavours, with a creamy mouthfeel that coated the mouth very well - and apparently it's made similarly like a creme brulee but with squid ink rather than vanilla. The sea urchin, flown twice a week from Tsujiki, added even more umami flavours and its usual complex floral notes - it was a pairing that surprisingly works, and works like a charm. What's actually very very crucial to the dish was the addition of some chopped chives in olive oil, which cut through the richness of the dish and added much needed texture to the creamy mouthfeel. A solid (9.5/10).
(PS: I haven't given that many 9/10s this year, but this ranks up there with my meals at Jean Georges and some great dishes at Ember).
From then on, next came up a sunny-side up with chorizo and fried potatoes. This was alright, flavourful food I suppose, good solid dependable cooking. I enjoyed the fried potatoes more than the chorizo, truth be told. (7/10)
Next up were the lamb short ribs, and this was very nicely done, flavoured with some whole grain mustard and some cumin, giving it a Moroccan / Mediterranean touch. They were pretty tasty and made for good gnawing, forks and knives be damned. (8/10)
The clams in a tangy lemon butter-like sauce with hints of pepper with chorizos fared pretty well - clams were fresh and the sauce was quite interesting; I was trying to see what went into it and I figured, butter, lemon, peppers? jalapenoes? there was some heat, of some kind. (8/10)
Some vegetables were in order, and the vegetable that Ming did for us was interesting, - it tasted rather of broccoli, and elevated by the shallots fried in olive oil to perfection. Crisp, brown, not burnt, and just a joy to eat. (7.5/10; 8/10 for the shallots).
For dessert, we had our doughnuts with lemon curd, and this was pretty good. The doughnuts were crispy and doughy, and the lemon curd was well competently done, not too sweet and smooth as well. I'd prefer it more sour but you can't please everyone I guess. (7.5/10)
Only sad thing is that they didn't have Fever-Tree tonic water which would have been a joy to drink with some of the much-touted gin! But never mind, I'm here at home sipping Hendrick's albeit with Schwepps as opposed to Fever-Tree. Hee hee.
Anyway, Lolla's a great place you should visit, and chef Ming definitely has a solid future ahead of him. It's lovely to see chefs cook with so much passion, and you can tell he knows his stuff. Highly recommended. BTW - no reservations, it's "egaliterian", he says.