Lolla is one of those restaurants whose exact provenance is hard to pinpoint. The much-praised establishment on Ann Siang Road in Singapore is often described as Mediterranean, and while that may be true, a recent visit to taste its recent Autumn menu tells me that it is much more – as seen in its utilisation of everything from French chanterelles to bonito in its creations.
Once you’re done admiring the charming whitewashed walls and fascinating wall art, make your way to the coveted zinc-topped bar counter, where you can watch the kitchen at work through the open concept, or head down to the basement to find a democratic communal table that looks like something from a mess hall.
The kitchen is now enthusiastically headed by the young Saiful Aziz, who until just last month, served as Sous Chef here for two years. His pedigree includes stints at Esquina, Prime Society, The Study, and Zambuca at the Pan Pacific, where he developed a fondness for seafood and more delicate flavours.
Owing to that, regulars might find the new seasonal menu to be particularly refreshing. If you’re not ordering from the a la carte list, there’s also a five- or seven-course set. You start with a plate of sourdough bread and innocent-looking butter with kombu. Grab a slice, and don’t be hesitate to slather on a chunk of butter – those black bits are absolutely delicious.
Depending on which set you choose, you might get Lolla’s legendary Sea Urchin Pudding. Don’t let its small size fool you – this is an umami bomb of savoury egg yolk custard blackened with squid ink and topped with decadent morsels of creamy uni, so rich that you want it to be something special you come back for once every couple months.
Carefully-sourced ingredients shine in the plate of Bonito Carpaccio, crowned with delicate water chestnuts and coriander cress that have been spiked with a dash of calamansi jus and onion-infused grapeseed oil. There are some robust Chanterelle Mushrooms sautéed with sprouted mung beans, and complex aged Manchego cheese. Is this fall produce at its best? Very much so.
Then, a generous portion of Hand Torn Pasta arrives – sheets of al dente lasagna ripped up and tossed with savoury seafood stock, rich blue swimmer crab meat, and some sharp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. It isn’t the prettiest pasta you’ve seen, but it might some of the most delicious.
Saiful does a delicious Pan-seared Brill, which if you haven’t tried, tastes somewhat like turbot – firm, rather flaky, and sweet from its diet of crustaceans and small fish. This is done with a buttery beurre blanc sauce and flecked with large ikura. And depending on what you choose, you might be served a Roasted Pigeon Breast and Confit Pigeon Leg – a tad gamey but fabulous with the accompanying spiced eggplant puree, or the immensely tender Sous Vide Beef Ribs with stacked potato and egg yolk confit. Both are excellent options.
There’s no witty dessert here, just a moderately simple Meringue stack with white chocolate ganache and sweet candied chestnut, but that’s really all you need. You don’t come to Lolla for a fancy fine-dining meal with beetroot espuma or mango spheres – you come for robust Mediterranean-fringed dishes prepared simply to let the produce stand out. And such is the spirit of a splendid omakase menu.
Lolla’s tasting menus are priced at $80++ for 5 courses and $100++ for 7 courses. Lolla is located at 22 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069702, p. +65 6423 1228. Open Mon-Sat 12pm– 2.30pm, 6pm – 11pm, Sun 10.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm.