Episode One at Restaurant Fiz will introduce you to the chef’s background, childhood and all the food that defined his upbringing in Lumut, Malaysia
Editor’s note: For more Date Night stories, click here.
Restaurant Fiz, a world away from most of Singapore’s fine-dining restaurants, hits close to home with the abundance of flavours Southeast Asia has to offer. Every meal here is a neat balance of sweet, salty, spicy and acidic, delivered through regional dishes, forgotten indigenous ingredients and ancient cooking methods.
It owes its culinary allegiance to chef-owner Hafizzul Hashim and an epiphany that brought him back to his roots. Born in Kuala Lumpur to Malay and English parents, and raised in the coastal town of Lumut in Perak, the 40-year-old spent years abroad at Michelin-starred restaurants like Chez Bruce in London and Jean-Georges in Tokyo, before deciding it was time to turn things around. He thought that if the fancy restaurants of the world could embrace the same ingredients he grew up with, so could he, and he may as well do so in the comfort of Asia.
Today, Fiz is his sacred space to meditate and create. Diners who walk through its wooden door, inscribed with religious textures and motifs, will find themselves in a temple of deliciousness designed with monastic simplicity. Seven circular booths are anchored by a monolith that functions as a central service station; a nod to the meditative, circular walk around the sacred shrines of Southeast Asia and the Kaaba in Mecca, Hafizzul’s religious roots.
The food itself is manna from heaven. Through extensive research—eating his way through Southeast Asia and poring over culinary manuscripts of Malaysia’s royal courts—different regions will be showcased episodically every three to six months. Episode One (S$288 for the full experience) will introduce you to the chef’s background, childhood and all the food that defined his upbringing in Lumut. That means dishes that hail from the Malay peninsula’s coastal regions, cooked with finesse and heart, and over charcoal; the kitchen uses bakau wood from the mangrove tree, which burns hotter and longer than most kinds.
Snack on bite-sized pieces of Hafizzul’s childhood. All those times he spent with his father, fishing and foraging for shellfish, inspired the Urchin, where creamy murasaki uni is served on a lightly jellied singgang fish broth. Memories of his mother’s nasi lemak is perfectly captured in a kueh pie tee, a crispy pastry tart that holds a charcoal-grilled firefly squid with fried sambal, coconut espuma and shavings of aged bottarga. His frequent visits to the night markets also inspired other delicious treats. His favourite ayam percik takes the form of a quail meatball, minced with chicken cartilage for crunch before being grilled with lemongrass, coconut, turmeric and a trio of spices. It will also come pierced by chicken feet and like it or not, you will eat it like a lollipop.
Unlike the candy, it is a lollipop that you will devour, just as you will continue to do so as flavours grow through the meal. Paying homage to his late grandmother’s gulai lemak cili padi is a spicy yellow crab curry that’s slurpable, but preferably mopped up by the side of deep-fried mantou before getting washed down by a comforting bowl of Kampong Chicken Broth. It’s similar to the soup Hafizzul makes for staff meals.
By now you might already be clutching the stomach and loosening the belt, but this is when you buckle down for a spread of gravy-soaked dishes, eaten family style. Two types of rice—short-grain white rice that’s cooked in the Josper and semi-polished red rice that’s steamed with coconut milk, ginger and pandan—provide the perfect canvas for King Mackerel (aged seven days and grilled with sambal tumis), Wagyu Beef Brisket (brined and smoked with lemongrass and sugarcane husk) and the most delicious salad that’s tossed with pennywort, king’s salad, snake beans, sweet leaves and torch ginger flower.
For those who can handle spice, saucers of Sambal Belacan and Acar Ikan Kurau (salted Indian threadfin with acar sambal) will be around to offer even more kick. And for those who can’t, dessert is where you can put all fires out. Soothe the tongue with some sort of banana split, but improved with smoked banana ice cream and a slice of brûléed banana, before getting acquainted with the chef’s favourite traditional Malay confectionery. This includes the Kuih Tanjak, a jiggly coconut and pandan custard that’s wrapped in banana leaf, and our favourite of them all, Bahulu, tiny sponge cakes that are greasy, sugary and baked to a crisp. The perfect way to end a perfect meal, we think.
21 Tanjong Pagar Road,
Tel: +65 9679 8021