After the somewhat lacklustre affair at now-defunct Five & Dime Cafe, I can't say I wasn't excited to try Fat Lulu’s Asian BBQ & Desserts when it launched.
While still by the original owners, and occupying the same slim space, the menu takes on a fresh, hearty new spin with two almost polarizing chefs at the helm - Chef Sam Chablani and Chef 'Song' Pang Ji Shuang (both formerly of Raven).
The restaurant's one chalkboard is littered with quirky phrases sprouted by Chef Sam—such as "no burn no taste"—and it is this spontaneity and passion that seems to have shaped his concept of flavoursome, and fun, charcoal grilled offerings.
A definite highlight for me was the Lamb Meatballs ($23, available for weekend brunch)—a homely, grandmotherly dish given extra pow with papadums crisps and a softness from chef's own take on chilli crab sauce.
It is best enjoyed by breaking the balls up, mashing it with the sous vide egg and chilli crab sauce, then have it over toasted sourdough bread like a chunky jam.
The hearty Croque Tambi ($18, available for weekend brunch) is a dish I'd gladly return for. Imagine a Croque Monsieur, but with egg switched out for Murtabak-style curried omelette that's been spiced with Sriracha and Kewpie mayonnaise, then layered with savoury slices of pan-seared Scarmoza cheese.
Chef Sam also serves up some decidedly more quintessential brunch fare, such as the Bacon & Egg ($22, available for weekend brunch) of just right scrambled eggs, thick-cut bacon and side of charred sourdough with a heavy, sour cream spread.
There's also the Fried Chicken with Pancakes ($22, available for weekend brunch) that marries the best of Chicken & Waffles and pancakes with a scrummy homemade sweet chilli and apple coleslaw.
Then comes desserts—a comparatively sleeker and more refined lineup by Chef Song.
Fans of familiar flavours will fall for his Apple Tarte Tartin ($14), served with a burnt vanilla ice cream, or the 'Usimarit' ($14, 'tiramisu' spelt backwards) of smooth Mascarpone panna cotta and Kahlua granita.
Or if like me, you prefer fuller flavours, go for the 'Childhood' ($16), a devilish dessert of chocolate, peanut butter and bright cassis notes.
This was an invited media tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.
Address: 297 River Valley Road Singapore 238338 Tel: +65 9236 5002 Operating hours: Closed Mondays; Weekend brunch 11am-4pm; Sundays, Tuesdays-Thursdays 6pm-11pm; Fridays & Saturdays 6pm till late