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  1. Fiz - Hidang Spread
    Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Hidang Spread
  2. Fiz - Hidang Spread
    Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Hidang Spread
  3. Fiz - Restaurant Interiors
    Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Restaurant Interiors

Time Out says

A shining beacon that puts modern Malay cuisine on the map

You might know Hafizzul Hashim from his talk-of-the-town private dining stint in Balmoral Road back in 2021 during the height of the pandemic. Born in Kuala Lumpur and raised in the coastal town of Lumut in Perak, the 40-year-old chef is best known for taking diners on a gastronomic tour across the culturally rich yet diverse region of Southeast Asia. Now, he is back with a restaurant of his own, Fiz.

Albeit being the newest kid on the block among all the other high-profile names in Tanjong Pagar, this contemporary fine dining restaurant isn’t here for a kickabout.

Fiz - Chef Hafizzul Hashim
Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Chef Hafizzul Hashim

Prior to Fiz, Hafizzul spent the past 23 years cutting his teeth in award-winning kitchens all around the world, most notably Marco Pierre White’s Mirabelle in London and the lauded Jean Georges in Tokyo. But it wasn’t until a sudden realisation that Southeast Asian ingredients from his earliest memory, like makrut lime leaves and galangal, were heavily used at said high-end dining establishments that prompted him to retrace his roots.

From sojourning markets in Luang Prabang and Siem Reap to gleaning recipes and historical manuscripts from the chefs of Malaysia’s royal courts, Hafizzul sets off to find his own niche in the culinary sphere. Today, diners at Fiz are presented with episodic menus (subjected to an update every three to six months) that feature thoughtfully curated plates, which accentuate forgotten indigenous ingredients and ancient cooking techniques of a chosen region.

Fiz - Urchin from Memories of the Shore
Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Urchin from Memories of the Shore

Episode one is an intimate glimpse into Hafizzul’s background, growing up in Lumut and the foods he holds dear. Expect refined takes on time-honoured recipes that hark from the Malay peninsula’s coastal regions, which are known to be notoriously labour-intensive. Opening the meal, Hafizzul shores up a quartet of jewels from the sea reminiscent of a time when he went coastal foraging with his father. 

Think one-biters of Murasaki uni layered with tart sinigang (clear fish broth) jelly, aged firefly squid served pie tee style with coconut milk espuma and punchy sambal tumis and delicate Amur caviar cleverly paired with jewels of white miso petai egg yolks on a crisp of kuih loyang (rosette cookies). Asam pedas (west Sumatran sour spicy stew) is also reimagined with luscious Botan prawns expressed in multiple flavours and textures.

The starters hinge on pasar malams (night markets), another one of Hafizzul’s favourite pastimes. From ayam percik (spicy Malaysian fried chicken) to fried seafood fritters, the satay kerang (grilled blood cockles) stands out the most. It is perfectly grilled and thinly sliced Hokkaido akagai (blood clams) drizzled with moreish sambal made from roasted macadamia and turmeric leaf oil.

Fiz - Blue Swimmer Crab from Ode to the Daily Seafood Curry
Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Blue Swimmer Crab from Ode to the Daily Seafood Curry

Paying homage to his late grandma and her recipe, Hafizzul presents his take on the gulai lemak chilli padi (yellow coconut curry with turmeric), which was perhaps the most memorable dish for us. Hand-pounded blue swimmer crab and Australian spanner crab are first poached in coconut milk with peppery fingerroot and Makrut lime till silky soft. Then, rich crab roe-infused yellow curry is poured over to result in a comforting curry dish that awakens your senses.

And comfort doesn’t stop there. Before the hidang (traditional Malay food spread) arrives, a light and herbally jamu-inspired kampong chicken broth is served to cleanse the palate and nourish the body. It then segues into a convivial dinner with sharing plates of aged seafood (sea bream), meat curries (beef tripe), seasonal vegetables (chayote shoots, belimbing and cucamelon) and fruits (young jackfruit). Dessert arrives in fashion inside a lacquered antique rattan basket with dainty handmade kuihs and goreng pisang (fried banana) to round it all off.

Sustainability is also not just a buzzword at Fiz. Hafizzul goes as far as to procure charcoal derived from fast-growing indigenous mangrove trees that are known for their longer and hotter burn, which wastes fewer resources. Even the two types of rice (fluffy yet nutty red ruby Beras Sia and sweet starchy short-grain Beras Adan) that accompany the hidang come painstakingly sourced within the region.

Fiz - Restaurant Interiors
Photograph: Carlina TeterisFiz - Restaurant Interiors

Food aside, the restaurant’s interiors are one that is monastically simplistic yet luxe. Stone, wood, and terracotta are natural mediums used to juxtapose against rustic Southeast Asian statement artefacts and motifs while circular booth seats remind us of the landscapes of rice terraces in the region. “Restaurants can be about honouring culture and history too, where identity is embellished and where diners leave with their appetites satiated and their minds enlightened,” shares Hafizzul.

We left with our bellies beyond full, knowing that Fiz is a beacon that puts modern Malay cuisine on the map and it is about time the fine-dining world celebrates it. And who knows? It may very well open the doors to other lesser-known Southeast Asian cuisines in the near future.

Dawson Tan
Written by
Dawson Tan


21 Tanjong Pagar Rd
Opening hours:
Tues-Sat 6pm-10pm (Closed on Sun & Mon)
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