Update (Feb 2019): Zaolek Lok Lok has relocated to 605B MacPherson Road, #03-08, Singapore 368241. This food tasting/review was done at their old location at Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club.
I had previously lamented the lack of lok lok eateries in Singapore but after having stumbled upon Malaysia Local Delights @ Tanjong Katong Road two years back, I no longer had to cross the causeway to hunt down a lok lok van in JB.
When I got wind of the opening of a new lok lok place in Kovan, I was just delighted that it was closer to where I live and it was also much easier to get to.
Zaolek Lok Lok used to be located at the Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club on Hougang Street 21 but is now relocated to 605B MacPherson Road, #03-08 Citimac Industrial Building, Singapore 368241. The nearest MRT Station is Tai Seng.
It was a Saturday evening. The restaurant opened at 5.30pm and we arrived just on time. Patrons were already seated while waiting for the staff to get things ready and for dinner service to begin.
I highly recommend that you make a reservation in advance because the dining area wasn’t huge and table seating was limited. Whether you’re alone, in pairs or in groups, there wouldn’t be any sharing of tables with strangers so every dining party would get their own cooking pot. I noticed that most of the first-round diners finished their meal in about 2 hours so more tables were released between 7.30pm to 8.00pm when they left but of course by then, a walk-in queue had already built up too. Hence make sure you have an available table before coming down.
The moment we were ushered to our table, we were shown this menu and the friendly staff explained to us in detail how their system worked which we really appreciated.
Prices for the lok lok buffet are as follows –
Monday – Thursday
S$24 nett (adult) S$12 nett (child) S$20 nett (student)
Friday – Sunday
S$27 nett (adult) S$13.50 nett (child)
There are no GST and service charge.
For the steamboat, there were 6 types of soup to choose from and we could pick any 2 (satay is subject to additional S$4). The staff recommended Laksa, Tom Yum and Bak Kut Teh which were the most popular picks. For the BBQ, there would be staff grilling skewers of different ingredients (fixed by them) and they would then bring the sticks to all tables when ready. For the fried lok lok, however, we would have to pick the skewers we want on a tray, clip the peg from our table (numbered with table number) onto the tray and pass the tray to the staff-in-charge at the deep frying counter. Once done, they will bring the fried goodies to your table and return you the peg which you can use again for the 2nd round.
This was the area to get the ingredients, sauces, condiments, drinks, cutleries and tableware. Pretty much self-serviced so just help yourselves and take whatever you need from here.
The ingredients that were on skewers (this is the whole idea of lok lok) were kept in chillers like these.
They had seafood and meat skewers together in one chiller. Most of the products were processed food like frankfurters, Taiwan sausages, imitation crab sticks & abalone, seaweed chicken, luncheon meat, fish paste related items (yong tau foo style) etc. Fresh ingredients would include prawns, squids, sliced fish, chicken meat, pork belly and innards.
Vegetable selections were pretty extensive. There were green leafy & cruciferous vegetables, assorted mushrooms, baby corn & sweet corn, root vegetables, beancurd products and even vegetable rolls that were wrapped with beancurd skin or bacon.
There was provision of rojak sauce (near the ice cream section) to eat the fruits with.
What really impressed me was the range of Asian-style dipping sauces they had. There were (from top to bottom) Hainanese chilli, soy sauce & fresh red chilli, sambal chilli, sweet bean paste, tom yum sauce, sweet & spicy Thai sauce, sour & spicy Thai sauce, garlic chilli in soy sauce and chilli crab sauce. The last two labels were mixed up.
There were minced garlic in oil and fried garlic too if you need to give more body to the sauces.
Drinks wise, there were only two types of cordials (included as part of the buffet) – lychee-flavoured and orange-flavoured. If you’re a big drinker, you can use the carafes below the glasses to hold your drink then you wouldn’t have to keep coming back to refill your glasses.
Ice creams (standard flavours of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate) were also included in the buffet.
To get all 9 dipping sauces wasn’t exaggerating because you really have to try them all to decide which one you like best. I actually enjoyed every single one of them because every ingredient can be paired with all these different sauces so for example, you’re eating boiled prawns, you can actually enjoy the prawns in 9 different ways. It really helped to ease that quick-to-set-in sickly feeling when you’re having a heavy buffet and these piquant sauces would be perfect to reset and refresh the palates.
See the green peg in the background? That was the numbered peg I mentioned earlier which you would need for your fried lok lok.
For the cordial drinks, both the lychee and orange were normal and not saccharine sweet which was good.
On every table, you would see a stove like this in the middle that uses butane gas cylinder.
We picked Laksa and Satay even though the staff said their Satay soup wasn’t the thick type like the one from Malacca but we were given a separate bowl of thick satay sauce (see top left on below picture) for dipping instead.
Both soups were the watered down kind, not the thick, creamy ones you would get from satay or laksa stalls. Basically, the soups had to be like this so that they wouldn’t burn over time and they could be boiled at a high temperature to ensure proper cooking of raw ingredients, etc. I could taste the respective spices in both soups especially the laksa one that was more fragrant and pungent whereas the satay soup was milder. And the more you cook stuffs in the soup, the more robust-tasting and salty the soup gets. Unlike steamboat where you would crack a egg in it and then drink the soup, the soup for lok lok is typically meant for cooking and not drinking.
The ingredients (skewers) were very fresh and tasted good on their own after cooking in the soup but if you need that extra punch in flavour, then that’s when the 9 sauces would come in place.
A closer look at the skewers we took. The thick, white thing above was mantou (plain bun). How nice to see pumpkin and black fungus too – I love.
I spotted ang ka prawns instead of grey or tiger prawns. The prawns were so fresh and crunchy and the meat wouldn’t stick to the shell. The sliced fish were also fresh and sweet, not fishy at all. I particularly loved this fish or squid paste roll thing (bottom right) that had cheese in it – had it fried and it was delicious!
The innards tasted & smelled rather gamey so I wouldn’t recommend if you can’t tolerate that. The quail eggs were the bomb! By the time I wanted a second helping of the quail eggs, there were no more left, lol. Smoked duck was pretty good too.
My recommended skewers to cook in the pot would be quail eggs, imitation abalone, squid, fish, vegetable rolls with bacon & beancurd skin, black fungus, shimeji mushrooms, cocktail sausages and smoked duck.
In the centre of the dining area was this BBQ/deep-frying section.
Plates of food in the background waiting to be fried up.
Prawns and chicken on the electric grill. Wished it was a charcoal grill as the barbecued food would have tasted a lot more smoky and authentic but I guess it wouldn’t be possible to do that in a community club environment.
From the BBQ, we sampled prawns and chicken. All perfectly cooked and still moist and juicy.
Dipped the chicken into the thick satay sauce. Not bad. The sauce wasn’t the most robust I had but it was very nutty.
Grilled frankfurters – all-time BBQ favourite – would never go wrong.
Grilled squids were tender too. By the way, I noticed all the BBQ items were marinated in the same marinade that was redolent of satay spices.
What a glorious sight when this arrived at our table. Everything looked so perfectly fried and appetising, lol. And true enough, I loved that crisp and crunch on the exterior. The batter coating was quite light and didn’t taste overly oily. The best part was that these fried skewers were further seasoned with some powder that was almost like paprika but with a lot more flavour. Very tasty on their own.
We ambitiously went for a second round of fried food but it got quite sickly for me after a while because we waited for this for quite some time and by the time it came, we were almost done with the meal but we still tried to finish as much as we could – shouldn’t waste food!
My recommended skewers to deep-fry would be seaweed chicken, ham & enoki mushroom rolls, hae chor (I think it was prawn roll, not ngoh hiang), green beans, oyster mushrooms, mantou (dip into the chilli crab sauce – yum!), yam, pumpkin, potato and pork belly.
Strawberry and vanilla ice cream topped with ground peanut to round up our meal. A little too sweet and cloying for my liking but still good enough to refresh the palate a bit.
We finished our meal and left the place just before 8pm and there were still people waiting in the walk-in queue.
Though Zaolek Lok Lok was situated within a community club, I thought the surrounding was quite pleasant for al fresco dining as it was open and well-ventilated. The casual, no-frills atmosphere makes this an ideal spot for dinner gatherings with families or friends.
All in all, the selections of skewers (>50 types) was ample. Ingredients were fresh. Plenty of dipping sauce choices – I’m sure you can easily find one that you like. Out of the 3 types of lok lok, I would say the fried one is the most outstanding because it’s nicely executed and the seasoning powder is tasty. One minor drawback of the dining experience is the space constraint at where the chiller fridges are because when the fridge doors are open and there are a lot of people armed with trays in hand trying to get food at the same time, it can be really tight and haphazard.
There, free wifi, if you need to put on Toggle to catch your favourite TV drama, while whiling away the evening, enjoying all the makan. Don’t forget to Like, Share and Check In on Facebook to enjoy a little discount off your bill!
If you haven’t had lok lok yet, it’s worth checking Zaolek Lok Lok out.
Zaolek Lok Lok
605B MacPherson Road
#03-08 Citimac Industrial Building
Tel: +65 9780 3192
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zaolek.kovan/
4.30pm to 10.30pm (Tue-Sun)
Closed on Mondays
Disclaimer: This was a hosted food tasting session. All opinions expressed here are solely my own personal views.