Lolla, Singapore: No. 63, Asia’s 50 Best, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2023

Early this year, 41 year old Johanne Siy bagged Asia’s Best Female Chef at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants event held in Singapore. This is a huge win for a chef with humble roots in Dagupan, Iloilo, Philippines and an 8-year long career at P&G. Not only that, Lolla climbed the charts to lucky No. 63. With that, those Michelin stars aren’t really far off.

And I thought it was so well-deserved in its very accessible lunch tasting menu valued at SGD 98++. The tasting menu outlines all of Chef Jo’s experiences ranging from Copenhagen’s Noma, to the defunct Restaurant Andre in Singapore, Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud and Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin. She took the reins at Lolla in 2020, transforming the menu into a standout dining experience punctuated heavily with ingredients from the Philippines — you’ll find out later that despite Spanish in origin, it’s very much an ode to her Filipino roots and a desire to bring it to a global stage.

Avocado, Smoked Eel Consomme, Yuzu

The appetizer Avocado floating atop smoked eel consomme was a delight. The dish is well-balanced, neither too cold to alienate your palate with the fresh avocado filled with jellified consomme made out of skin, bones and trimmings of a smoked eel. You are served with this plate garnished with a scoop of jalapeño granita. Tiny garlic bits dot the edge of the avocado. A visual treat and multi-dimensional introduction to a tasting menu.

Sourdough bread, Kombu butter

Lolla sources its sourdough bread to a French boulangerie, one of the best sourdough breads I’ve had in the island. The Kombu butter is homemade, a little trop de sel (too much salt) for my liking but a great filler (in Chef Jo’s words). I couldn’t finish half of it because…

Uni Pudding +SGD 38

… I was entranced with the beautiful Hokkaido bafun uni atop the richest silken squid ink custard. The Uni Pudding is Lolla’s crowd-favorite, one that you have to order always.

By now, you would have been full with flavors at a mere 3 dishes, which is a great accomplishment. Chef Jo mentions she is reinventing a tasting menu that doesn’t get too drawn out, and I wholeheartedly agree. (And I’ve had a 10 course omakase before at RyuGin in Tokyo, which was a very long affair.) In her words, she’s aiming to strike a balance between people with larger appetites and those who eat less (like I do). Chef Jo also wishes to bring in more of her ingredients from the Philippines, which I do feel is under explored due to logistical challenges.

I eat less these days because I like to appreciate food rather than stuffing myself of it. It is nice to appreciate the ingredients in each dish, especially with the Crab Relleno.

Crab Relleno, Aligue Sauce, Kaffir Lime

Relleno is a dish we normally eat in the Philippines using minced milkfish and raisins. With Spanish/ Chilean origins, Relleno is a dish we love to eat back home, especially with piping hot white rice.

At Lolla, Chef Jo elevates the Relleno with a trio of crabs hailing from the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. The meat of the Philippine river crabs, Japan’s zuwaigani (snow crabs) and Indonesian blue swimmer crabs is stuffed in a crab shell along with burnt cabbage and pearl couscous. On top, paprika foam, kaffir lime oil, kaffir lime leaves and mustard flowers.

From the Avocado with smoked eel consomme, your tastebuds will drastically change the moment you get a taste of the Crab Relleno. The contrast bridges the dishes together in the tasting menu.

Caviar, Hay Ice Cream, Sesame Oil

To finish the dish, Caviar atop hay ice cream. Hay is grass and truly I never realize that Hay ice cream could be my favorite flavor. The aroma of the grass reminds me of Giverny and yet the smokiness of the sesame and the caviar’s saltiness just interrupts your daydreaming and brings you to the present at Lolla. I was left wishing for more.

I want an encore of the spectrum of flavors perhaps in a different tasting menu. Worth the repeat.

Lolla’s tasting menu is only available during Saturdays for lunch, and the Crab Relleno is seasonal in its ala carte menu. Reservations are recommended.

Address: 22 Ann Siang Rd, Singapore 069702
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 2:30 pm, 6:00 – 11:00pm, Closed on Sundays
Instagram: lollasg