Vietnamese Cuisine Gets a Modern Spin at Lo Quay

by Charmian Leong
06 Nov 2023

Discover the breadth and versatility of Vietnamese food as Chef Quynh Brown combines the flavors of her homeland with her know-how in Japanese and French cooking.

Many Vietnamese restaurants and cafes here play up its casual, accessible street-friendly offerings, which is a fair enough angle given how laid-back the country’s gastronomic philosophy is. But Lo Quay is a snazzy new 54-seat restaurant on Amoy Street whose head chef, Quynh Brown, is on a mission to overturn everything you think you know about Vietnamese food which, let’s be honest, probably doesn’t extend far beyond spring rolls, pho, and bahn mi.

Chef Quynh Brown

As the latest establishment by The Dandy Collection, you can expect the same vibrant atmosphere and modern culinary takes that typify the group’s other concepts like Firangi Superstar and Neon Pigeon. At Lo Quay, the walls are lined with purchasable AI art, the staff serve with enthusiasm, and the food is dubbed “New Vietnamese Cuisine”. The restaurant’s name, pronounced “low-kway” and loosely meaning “discover”, is an invitation to experience Chef Brown’s roots through her Nobu- and Zuma-trained lens.

The best way to dive into Chef Brown’s world is through her “Discover Menu” (which, at $138++ per person for 11 to 12 dishes, is incredible value). Opening snacks like the Amela Tomato, where burnt sugar tomato is paired with soursop sorbet and shiso, demonstrate the Vietnamese mastery over sweetness and acidity.

Young jackfruit that’s been minced with Vietnamese herbs and king trumpet mushroom and then breaded and deep-fried is a champion for vegetarian meatballs. The baked oyster slow-cooked with bone marrow and slathered in Hollandaise and topped with Caviar Colony’s Kaluga Hybrid Caviar is a luscious triumph, and the fact that only one is served is a tragedy.

Pho Bo
Banh Mi Wellington

A fine dining take on familiar foods is expected, but the way Chef Brown executes them is not. Her interpretation of pho bo doesn’t actually contain any pho, but instead whets the appetite with a small bowl of beef broth (that takes 18 hours to make) poured over bits of wagyu brisket, bone marrow, deep-fried honeycomb, omasum tripe, and fried beef tendon. Her banh mi is actually grilled Iberico pork jowl, pork crackling, house-made pork liver pate, and kombu butter wrapped in puff pastry and baked Wellington style — but she nods to the classic sandwich with a Maggi demi-glace and anise-pickled Japanese cucumber.

The mains are less local, but Chef Brown ensures Asian flavors still come through in the seasonings and sauces. Lamb chops are marinated in her own belachan and gula melaka mixture and served with a tangerine and hijiki salad, while the roasted duck breat is served with a dark chocolate hoisin sauce and flambeed table-side.

(Related: 5 best Japanese restaurants in Singapore to try now)

Baked Oyster

Another reason to go down the degustation route is the Cafe Phin Parfait, which is available only on the Discover Menu. Inspired by Vietnamese coffee, the dessert comprises an espresso sponge with coffee cream, caramelized kinako white chocolate, creme fraiche sauce, and finished with a vanilla tuile. Satisfyingly sweet like the famous beverage, but not strong enough to keep you up at night.

“I want people to discover Vietnamese cuisine beyond the popular street food,” said Chef Brown in a press statement. “Our interpretation offers you the authentic flavors of Vietnam with a unique point of view. This food is an invitation to share my world.”

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