Most people will associate Pince & Pints with two things – their fresh air-flown lobsters and the two-hour long queue. From 32 Duxton Road to 32 Jalan Telawi 5, this Singaporean-Malaysian partnership joins the slew of new casual lobster establishments cropping up around the city.
At first impression, Pince & Pints will draw comparisons to the famous London’s Burger & Lobster chain where the simplicity of the dish remains the main focus. No fancy fusion techniques, no bite-sized portions. What you’ll get instead is a generous serving of the lobster cooked in five different ways to highlight its freshness. Owner Frederick Yap reveals that he was inspired by this concept to make lobsters more accessible to this part of the world. In the past, lobsters were usually associated with Chinese restaurants and also came with a hefty price tag.
Unlike most dining establishments these days where it takes a celebrity chef to build up a restaurant’s success, Pince & Pints steers the opposite direction by choosing to highlight their ingredients instead, importing the freshest lobsters that fall under the premium variant. Sustainability is also a major factor when it comes to their lobster selection as Yap reveals that he only partners with fisheries that practice sustainable fishing methods. All lobsters are wild-caught and air-flown directly from Boston, Maine and Canada twice a week to their state-of-the-art holding facility where the lobsters are stored in deep sea tanks with a regulated temperature of 5°C to 7°C to ensure top quality produce. To get the best shell to meat ratio, Pince & Pints imports the Homarus americanus lobsters that weighs around 600g per serving, great for sharing with friends and family.
It’s the week before the official opening and we’re greeted with a full house bustling with society guests who have been given the privilege to try out the lobsters beforehand. The interior boasts a sleek elegant finish featuring copper accents and bronze mirrors that provides an industrial yet rustic charm to the whole place. Adding a touch of sophistication to the restaurant is an original lobster-inspired artwork commissioned by local celebrated artist Ahmad Zakii Anwar hanging on the wall. The long bar by the entrance looks inviting as the extensive cocktail menu will beckon you to take a seat and savour a well-deserving nightcap.
The menu surprises me – a choice of five lobster dishes which is a far cry from the copious variety I’m used to at other restaurants. However, that made it easier to narrow down which lobster I wanted as I immediately hone in on the renowned lobster roll. A traditional New England favourite, lobster rolls became a hit in 2013 when the gourmet fast food trend took off, spurring restaurants to come up with their own variations. The signature dish at Pince & Pints is served with a homemade soft buttered bun topped with hearty chunks of lobster meat that are steamed then marinated with mayonnaise and salt. To my surprise, there is plenty of lobster meat buried under the chopped chives, proving that portions are generous here and you won’t leave feeling unsatisfied. The richness of the bun is balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the juicy lobster meat, leaving more room to polish off the sides – straight cut fries and salad with sour cherry balsamic vinaigrette.
An exclusive dish to the KL outlet is the lobster noodles, an oriental inspired dish featuring large chunks of shell-on lobster that are stir-fried with scallions and ginger atop freshly made egg noodles. A staple in Chinese restaurants, this dish served with chilli oil elevates the comfort food experience up a notch.
Be prepared to get messy when it comes to the chilli lobster with mantou, inspired by Singapore’s famous chilli crab dish. You’ll find yourself asking for mantou refills as the fluffy fried buns are best consumed when dipped with the special sweet chilli sauce house blend. For some, seafood is best savoured on its own, untainted by complicated sauces or techniques. The live whole lobster dish offers the experience of indulging in the lobster’s natural sweetness on its own – grilled or steamed. I opt for the grilled version that comes with mesclun salad, herbed butter and straight cut fries. The smoky flavour clings on to the juicy sweet meat, adding a robust charred taste that is simply delightful. The steamed version will be best suited for those who prefer the healthier route as the live lobster is steamed in salted water and olive oil which is a classic New England technique that enhances the natural saline taste of the sea.
Cocktails prove to be a strong contender at Pince & Pints, meticulously curated according to accent flavours – sweet, sour, bitter or dry. Dante’s Dream, a refreshing cucumber and mint concoction is great for cleansing the palate though there is an array of boutique wines and artisanal brews to select from.
Word on the street is that the restaurant is slated to be fully-booked on the first month after its official opening and it certainly looks that way if the pre-opening crowd is an indication of the restaurant’s future success.
Pince & Pints, No 32, Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar; Tel: 03-2201 3233