Lokkee at Plaza Singapura has the quirkiest decor. On the surface, it looks like a proper Chinese restaurant, especially when it is under the Tunglok brand. But on closer inspection, there are Chinese ink paintings of Star Wars; wet towels in condom packaging; a sculpture of Mao Zedong wearing a Mickey Mouse hat.
Why is there a condom on my plate?!
Relax, it’s just sex. Or wet tissue.
A whimsical setting, serving American Chinese cuisine–you would suspect it’s a gimmick, that the food is nothing great. Such an assumption is fair, but not true for Lokkee. We three diners all agree that the food is fantastic, often with a twist, and presented very well.
The idea behind Flaming Pineapple Beef ($28) is that the flames could burn the aroma of pineapple into the braised beef. While I couldn’t taste the pineapple, the braised beef is tender and savory in the gravy.
Mapo tofu ($16, below) is also as beautiful as it is delicious. A huge round Chinese soup bowl holds a thin layer of tofu, and the server pours the mala (numb & spicy) sauce of pork over it. Very smooth, very delicious.
Firecracker chicken nest ($24, below) has fried chicken nuggets imbued with the spiceiness of sichuan pepper and dried red chilli. Eat a bit of chicken and then, to alleviate the spice, drink a sip of the mango puree (presented as eggs). Interesting and delicious.
One of us found the uni pasta ($24) addictive with its creamy uni sauce. It is a little “smelly” for me, like clams, but at least it has the taste of uni, and shows uni on top.
Lokkee should be very popular but the two reasons Lokkee isn’t popular are:
(1) very low-kee, little publicity. If there is no word out that the food is delicious, how will it attract a crowd?
(2) Unlokkee (unlucky) location. The target crowd is young, trendy, fun, working executives, but the restaurant is situated in a family mall. Which parent will bring kids to a restaurant with condoms? The restaurant would have much better crowd at cbd area.
My only complaint about Lokkee is the limited menu: many items are Sichuan mala spicy. And the other items aren’t interesting. If you come with a table of 6, you can easily eat all the specialities and don’t need to return anymore.
But to us, Lokkee is one of the best restaurants this year. It executes the interesting concept excellently. There is an exciting element in each dish and it is delicious, not gimmicky. The service is polite and eager–our glasses of waters were always full–although there are some new servers who need training. The decor is wacky and fun. High marks for everything. We paid $36 per person.
68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura, #03-01, Singapore 238839
T: +65 6884 4566
Overall Rating: 3.813/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.