The charm of Telok Ayer Street lies not in the five-foot ways filled with oodles of restaurant names. The famous Thian Hock Keng Temple has a firm footing in bringing large tour groups to the heritage site. But Fu Lin is not unfamiliar to the throngs of CBD workers that patronise it. What’s unfamiliar is how it transforms itself into a small plates/tapas bar that’s a respite for the worker bees.
Fu Lin’s decor is amazingly deceptive in the daytime. I guess in all the busyness of the lunch crowd, I’ve never noticed how the seats were largely oriental and tables carved out of wood. Not to mention the deliberately skinned cement walls to expose the brickworks. The decor is eclectically industrial oriental, probably so to match the name – and the impressive location of being opposite the famous Thian Hock Keng Temple.
We tried the Whiskey Sour (S$18) and the Mai Tai Cocktail (S$18) and we totally liked it. The whiskey sour is my favourite whiskey-based drink if I feel like having a sweeter drink but this rendition wasn’t as sweet as I had imagined, but came refreshing bold and tasty. The Mai Tai’s a refreshing choice as well, definitely one for the ladies as it’s a more sugary concoction but well-made nonetheless.
Having tried the Yong Tau Fu in the day time, there is some apprehension to how successful a transformation it can make from hearty lunch fare to exquisite small plates. The Prawn Pasta (S$23) came in an unexpected form – a ravioli that’s shaped more like a dumpling than an actual one. But soaked in a creamy prawn bisque-like sauce with coriander oil, the pasta was cooked al dente and with the freshness and sweetness of the prawn mince coming through.
The Iberico Steak (S$26) was clearly a product from the charcoal grill as you can smell the fragrant smokiness of the meat drippings returning to the surface. The result is a tender-on-the-inside, and fragrant-on-the-outside piece of fat marbled iberico pork. The watercress and arugula salad made a good accompaniment as it cuts the slightly greasier cut of pork. Absolutely delicious.
“That is a massive dollop of Tobiko roe”, was my first exclamation. Chef Warren’s generosity can be seen across many reviews of this dish already and the Crab Risotto (S$25) does live up to its name. Cooked in a salted egg cream sauce with generous flakes of spanner crab, and the tasty tobiko roe, this dish is a real crowd pleaser. Come in a group to share, or prepare to suffer the calorific consequences of this seafood medley. It’s worth every mouth, I can assure you.
With happy hour Kronenbourg pints at S$8++, you can be sure that this place will be packed at night. The transition to the the bar is more than competent and sake lovers will enjoy the long list of sake and shochu selections at their disposal.
Quality of food: 7/10
Fu Lin Bar (Map)
127 Telok Ayer Street
Hours: 10am to 3pm (Mon – Sat), Tapas Bar Opens After 3pm
Nearest stations: Tanjong Pagar and Telok Ayer MRT