by Qian Leung
@ 30 Jun 2017
A quaint little 13-seater located on Ann Siang Hill, Lolla is popular with the well-travelled, artistic foodie types. Chef Ming Tan and Chef Shahrome Misnin delve into eating cultures from other parts of the world, and create dishes which make you do a double take.
Dip your spoon into the sea urchin pudding, and a string of question marks start floating over your head – is the black colour of the cold crème brûlée from century eggs or black sesame? Does the umami savouriness comefrom cheese, onion, or durian? The answer is squid ink. A sharp aroma has your nose twitching, and your attention is diverted to the chef sautéing Mozambique prawns with garlic, white wine, lemon juice, Italian parsley, butter, and paprika.
A very comforting dish next follows – Spanish tortilla potato omelette. Russet potatoes are cut into large cubes, and cooked gently in duck fat for one and a half hours in the oven. They are then sautéed until browned and crisp, dropped into egg batter, and browned under the salamander. “I have family members who live in Spain,” says Chef Tan, “and they used to bring back smoked eel for me.” With the springy omelette as a foil, the rich, savoury, lightly salty taste of smoked eel truly stands out. “We have a customer who comes in on his own, and orders only this dish every time, with just a beer to go with it.”
Chef Tan’s ox tripe brings back memories of pork cracklings I used snack on as a kid in Hong Kong. Unlike traditional ox tripe you would encounter in a bowl of ox tripe noodles, the version served here has been braised till soft and fluffy, with a little charring on its surface from sitting over a charcoal grill. A mirepoix of caramelised carrot, onion, and celery provides a mellow sweetness to the masculine dish. Next comes dessert – little balls of fried choux puffs which are unstoppable once you start. The lemon curd, made with egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice, works far better than chocolate might have, and ends the meal on a pleasantly light, sparkly, yet satisfying note. At Lolla, a keen sense of culinary curiosity can be felt, which invigorates the intellect.
If you are reading this, and you are a chef, don’t let the busyness of your work quagmire you into becoming obsolete in this exciting new culinary landscape. QL