Fu Lin Boat Quay: 1994 Hawker Stall. 2017 Hipster Asian Tapas Bar

Fu Lin Boat Quay, an Asian tapas bar, originated from Fu Lin Yong Tau Foo, a popular hawker stall established in 1994. Its flagship hawker stall is at East Coast but they have a couple of other outlets. Fu Lin Boat Quay is newly opened in May, the second restaurant-bar by Fu Lin after the one at Telok Ayer.

Both the Telok Ayer and Boat Quay restaurant-bars are helmed by Chef Tony whose culinary background is grounded in Italian and French cooking techniques. The difference between Telok Ayer and Boat Quay restaurants is that the Boat Quay outlet offers more Western food. Fu Lin Boat Quay then is combining its local food heritage and Western cuisine.

They complement the food with Asian-inspired cocktails by a talented bartender, Andy Lim. Green Envy ($18) is a refreshing drink with a base of pandan-infused vodka and other healthy “greens” like fresh lime juice, aloe vera, mint and wheatgrass.

The other one, Wo De Mei Ren ($18, My Beauty, a Chinese homonym of “Watermelon”) is watermelon juice tinged with homemade lemonade syrup and vodka. We like this one very much; it’s easy to drink.

In the day time for lunch, they put out trays of yong tau foo items; it is a yong tau foo stall. At night, it’s a restaurant-bar but they still serve their yong tou foo ($8) with fixed items. They are definitely not your healthy variety; most, if not all, items are deep-fried covered in a thick mushroom-chicken gravy which tastes similar to Ipoh hor fun. The taste is stupendous, out of the world. Even the fishcake is delicious, so sweet and bouncy. It’s fresh ingredients that you can truly taste and differentiate from other yong tau foo.

There is also a noodle ($4), with fantastic addictive ikan bilis.

Noodles with ikan bilis ($4)

Besides their famed yong tau foo, there are some very interesting items on the menu: camembert toast ($8, baked cheese with truffle oil), firecracker chick ($9, chicken in dried chilli), yam balls ($9, yam balls stuffed with minced pork, chicken, and tiger prawns), tempura baby squids ($9), Sichuan mala yong tofu ($10), and dong po rou (traditional braised pork belly, $12).

Assorted bruschetta ($10)

While their Asian tapas sounds intriguing, they were pushing for their Western items and so we tried several.

The Western items are competent, nothing amiss. The pan-seared sea bass ($20) is slightly over-cooked and dry, but I love that it’s salty enough, and the pungent roasted Japanese leek lifted it.

The other, Australian beef cheek stew ($24), has a thin veneer of sourness (tasted like vinegar? Worcestershire sauce?), which may be off-putting to some. But since I like sourness, it works for me.

 While the Western food is good–their fantastic, original tiramisu is undercut by a refreshing layer of lychee jelly—we thought that Fu Lin suffers from a bifurcated identity. Is it an Asian tapas or a Western restaurant? If it is a Western restaurant, then there is nothing really special about Fu Lin.

We suggest incorporating the Western elements into Asian food. For instance, when I was eating noodles and seabass together, they really worked well together. So maybe they can make the seabass into a sort of Chinese pasta.

The yong tau foo and noodles are exceptional and we would definitely make return visits for them. We’d also return to try the Asian-inspired tapas, which better showcases Fu Lin’s character than their Western food.

Fu Lin Boat Quay
50 Circular Road Singapore 049405
tel: +65 6532 1013
M-F 10am-12am, Sat 4pm-12am

Food: 7/10
Decor: 8/10
Price: 6.5/10

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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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