|Interior of Fat Lulu’s at River Valley|
Menus: a la carte only
An array of bold, burnt and unabashed Asian flavours matched with some of the most elegant desserts this side of town headline the menu at this eight-month old barbecue and dessert joint on River Valley Road.
Co-helmed by head chef, Sam Chablani, a CIA New York graduate and an alum of Daniel Boulud Bistro Moderne New York and Raven Singapore, and pastry chef, Pang Ji Shuang, who used to oversee desserts at Raven Singapore, the unlikely pairing of Asian barbecue and desserts is winning fans in the city and it’s not difficult to see why. Stumps of lemon and salt-rubbed sweet corn (S$11) studded with oregano arrive on a puddle of smoked sour cream spiked with cayenne pepper and paprika, an appetite-opening prelude that fits the theme to a T. Instead of duck fat, potatoes (S$12) are poached then roasted in lamb fat and served with kale, rosemary, parsley, garlic and lamb jus, a hearty, somewhat “lamby” and utterly delicious induction into the gentle prowess of Chalani’s charcoal grill. Shards of burnt asparagus (S$16) hold some potential too, if only the oh-so-dull bernaise sauce makes way for an Asian-inspired concoction with a headier oomph. Other dishes are less forgiving, not least the power-packed baby back ribs (S$20 for half rack, S$28 for full rack) – first slow-cooked for 11 hours, then warmed in chicken stock before the rack is grilled and served with coriander and burnt lime in a thick coat of chipotle scented sauce perfumed with kecap manis. If you only have space for an order of meat, eat this. The grilled Mangalica pork collar (S$26) is also a winner – the meat is seasoned simply with nothing more than salt and grilled until moist and tender. While it may seem plain, what it lacks in oomph is more than made up by the tear-jerking sambal that comes with the accompanying grilled okra. Desserts by ice and granita-happy Pang are generally strong (some even off the charts). Appetite willing, the sweet toothed should purvey the three-course dessert tasting (S$35) but if that is too much, make space for the exceptionally refreshing dessert of pineapple granita, coconut ice cream and liquid nitrogen-frozen coconut foam “ice kacang” (S$16).
Occupying the former space of Five & Dime café, this no-frills eatery offers just 38 seats including a handful of slim counter seats that overlook the bar where Pang assembles his avant garde desserts. The beverage menu is simple but spot-on – expect cider, beer, cocktails and a short list of wines.
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.