2020 was a tricky time to open an eatery anywhere in the world. Those like Lu La Restobar that managed not just to survive but even grow over the past 2 years really are something special.
I discovered Lu La quite by accident before the lockdowns hit and quickly became a fan of the tantalising bar food at this Ann Siang Road star. When the news reached me last month that they had reinvented and expanded their menu, I was eager to return and argue with the chef if he had tampered with my favourites.
The party music thumping at Lu La was already attracting a promising crowd when I arrived relatively early in the evening. Resisting the temptation— at least temporarily— to mingle with the youngish yuppie crowd, I headed inside to workity-work-work tasting food.
What I tried at Lu La Restobar
Love your meat and your cheese in heavy doses? The Meat Lovers Pizza (S$28.70) delivers on both counts.
One of my biggest issues with pizza is that the crust is so often too dry to eat. This pizza bucks the trend with a soft and fluffy crust and is the only one I manage to eat every last bit of.
Next to our table was the NZ Lamb Chop (S$21.90) which is marinated rosemary lamb chops charred with starch and vegetables. It’s served with criss-cut fries, which somehow manage to taste good wherever I have had them. Maybe I’m just biased but the crispiness plus the unusual poke-y shapes just make for fun eating!
Seafood lovers should try the Sambal Prawns (S$21) and Sambal Sotong (S$20) before anything else. The first of these is grilled prawns topped with Lu La’s in-house sambal. It is done just right for my liking with its texture at the perfect balance of hard and soft. I don’t know how the chef does it but their cooking process captures the smokiness so well.
Lu La’s Sambal Sotong skips the basic in-house sambal and substitutes it with a special green and black dressing of ‘cutting’ chilli.
It was very good but I couldn’t identify the exact ingredients and the chef was tight-lipped about this new creation of his. Expect to find it served with a variety of bar food orders and play the guessing game for yourself!
Rounding up the trifecta of underwater delights are Blue Fin Balls (S$17.90). These premium bluefin tuna cutlets are paired with Lu La’s chilli padi dip that is perfect for anyone who loves the spicy heat of our local cooking. I am usually averse to the hotter dishes but I gobbled down more than my fair share. It was flavoured so well that I found it to be the best dish of the night even without the sambal.
Lu La’s head chef studied his craft in Texas and his Tandoori Masala Midwings (S$17.90) is one of the dishes that has a hint of the Lone Star State in them.
The masala-flavoured char-grilled chicken has been my favourite Lu La guilty pleasure since my first visit. Thankfully, they were unchanged and as delicious as ever. Perhaps the phrase “the meat slid off the bone” is overused but it does the midwings justice.
Hot Mamma (S$21) is Lu La’s signature mutton masala with fried buns. Super soft and spicy, the meat and gravy dish proved itself with a fine flavour that was perfect for dipping the bread.
It achieved what I consider the Holy Grail of restaurant mutton by not being gamey.
Another plate I have always enjoyed is Lu La’s SOF (S$16.70) of mixed sausages with anchovies, tofu and potato in homemade sambal sauce, topped with onion and coriander garnishing. The medley of textures and flavours makes this an interesting dish to enjoy with friends.
I had never tried the Hot Chick Satti (S$20) and that’s a tragedy. This is claypot chicken masala in biryani rice, which makes an aromatic arrival at your table some time before the claypot does.
The quail eggs were a nice touch that I had not expected. It all came together to make a very flavourful dish that our table thoroughly enjoyed.
Cocktails at Lu La range from S$17 to S$21 but the friendly bar team is always up for a challenge— tell them what you like and they will whip up a bespoke concoction in a jiffy.
Lu La opens at 6pm to cater to the after-office Tanjong Pagar crowd and that makes for a cool, hip vibe made all the cooler and hipper now that dining restrictions have been lifted. This was my first visit since that happened and what a difference it made!
I love that the food varies from small snacks that pair with your drink to filling mains large enough for two.
Between the food and drink, the crowd and the music, it is difficult to decide what I like best about Lu La. It doesn’t matter, though— you should visit and find out for yourself.
Expected damage: S$30 – S$65 per pax
* This post was brought to you in partnership with Lu La Restobar.
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