Makansutra: Big Lazy Chop boasts excellent zi char
No fanciful designs here; the bistro lets its dishes' flavour speak for themselves
I was intrigued when I heard that Big Lazy Chop is some kind of a "zi char bistro". Is it modernist, progressive local fare, or just a brand gimmick to hawk alcohol with the usual stir fries, and of course, is it overly expensive?
Zi char meals are the greatest family makan institution in Singapore. This is where families head to when everyone cannot agree on what to eat at weekend gatherings.
There's often something to please everyone.
There's nothing much to rave about in the design department at Big Lazy Chop. To me, that is a good sign as it means they concentrate only on the food, like good zi char places do.
The first page of the menu states the signatures: champagne pork ribs, seafood curry bee hoon, pepper mushroom yam basket, buttermilk fried chicken and steamed turbot.
I try not to fall for self-proclaimed pat-on-your-own-back signatures - I'd rather have customers spread the word. But I heard a lot about their seafood curry bee hoon (from $30) and the champagne ribs (from $24).
Curry bee hoon has always had a special place in my heart. It began when my mother took me to the ritualistic middle-of-the-month temple visit where they served free vegetarian curry bee hoon.
The version at Big Lazy Chop was decadently adorned with crayfish and clams. The curry was rich, very moreish and did not bruise the throat, and the bee hoon was soft and slurpy - the way I like.
But the letdown that day was the crayfish. It was not as fresh as I had expected from a $30 dish.
I know of hor fun hawkers who dish out fresher ones at a quarter the price.
The champagne ribs saved the moment. I noticed it was not double-cooked (braised in stock till soft, chilled and then deep fried for texture outside).
They marinated the prime ribs and fried it straight up. It had a lovely naturally firm and juicy bite to it. That is when the "bistro" part came in - the dish called for a craft beer, which is what they specialise in.
Another rare dish I spotted was the claypot fried intestines ($16) with glass noodles.
But be warned, this dish has some pong of the large intestine buried in the flavour.
You either love or loathe it. I adored it, but the intestines were braised, not deep fried to a crisp.
I was thrilled when I saw the plate of chilled drunken drumstick ($16) served with a few slices of century egg.
The chef turned the boneless drumstick into a roulette and stuffed bird eye chillies in the middle, which was a great trick and visually arresting.
But I suspected my order had sat in the chiller longer than needed.
All the flavours and the cold gelatin were intact but the texture was a tad too firm for me.
The soft shelled crab with pork floss ($26) was an instant crowd-pleaser. You have to be a novice to mess this dish up in the kitchen.
I save the best for last - the signature fried chestnut bars.
They turned my Cantonese childhood favourite dessert, the starchy water chestnut soup, into a kueh and deep fried it, with a lovely crumbly, flaky and crispy batter.
It was hard to stop eating them. It was great that they were generous with the water chestnut strips.
A bistro this isn't, but a nice zi char spot with craft beer and lots of parking space.
Big Lazy Chop
1A, Short Street, #01-04
Closed on Mondays
Tel: 6238 8443