Big Lazy Chop is such a quirky name for a restaurant that it begs the question: What does it mean?
It is the literal translation of its Chinese name, Da Lan Pai, but that doesn't make sense either. So you ask the young man serving you and his answer is that the eatery wants its customers to have a relaxing time, while "chop" refers to the pork rib dishes that are labelled as signature items.
I refrain from asking how ribs become chops, even though both come with a rib bone. If the owner wants to call his restaurant Chop, then Chop it is.
The playful name does fit the eatery's location: under a student hostel block in the quiet Short Street that is better known for the Rochor soya beancurd stall diagonally across the road. It is casual and a bit hidden away, not a bad place to be a "big lazy".
Big Lazy Chop, which opened last December, specialises in Singapore-style Chinese dishes. Think of it as an upgraded zi char eatery in an air-conditioned and alfresco cafe setting.
PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE
BIG LAZY CHOP
1A Short Street, 01-04, tel: 6238-8443, open: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30 to 10.30pm (Tuesday to Sunday). Closed on Monday
Food: 3.5 stars
Service: 3 stars
Ambience: 2.5 stars
Price: Budget about $50 a person
Besides ribs, it also offers a number of mud crab dishes ($70 a kg), such as the ubiquitous chilli and black pepper crab. But there is also an original version called Indo Curry, which is more watery than local curries and reminds me of laksa gravy. It is delicious though and not overly rich or spicy. It should go well with rice, but is also perfectly palatable drunk straight from the claypot.
The crab is cooked just right and the sweetness of the meat is rounded out nicely by the aromatic gravy.
The black pepper version I try at another dinner is good too, but is less striking as it tastes similar to what you can get in many places.
The rib dishes are divided into two categories: saucy and drunken. I try one from each and find the Butter Champagne Drunken XL Spare Ribs ($23) more to my liking because the sauce makes the meat less dry.
But the Salted Egg XL Saucy Spare Ribs ($20) has a tasty coat of crumbled egg yolk that many may find appealing too.
Although described as XL and certainly boasting a long piece of bone, the ribs are not very meaty. You can easily eat two or more pieces and still have plenty of room for other dishes.
That is good in a sense because you want to try the Handmade Fresh Crab Money Bag ($18). The wrappers for the bags are made with egg white and though they are thick, the texture is smooth and soft.
The filling of shredded crabmeat is a tad underseasoned, but I figure this is to accommodate the delicious starch-thickened sauce for the dish. Eaten on their own, the bags taste bland, but with the sauce, the combination of flavours is just right.
For something with heavier seasoning, get the Hotplate Hakka Beancurd ($13), which boasts a starchy gravy tasting strongly of oyster sauce. But the best part of the dish is the silky-smooth beancurd, which is handmade with fresh soya bean milk. It is smoother, in fact, than the famous beancurd dessert across the road that I pack home after my dinner.
I usually pass on dessert in Chinese restaurants because the choices - and tastes - are often predictable. But I make an exception for the Fried Chestnut Bars ($8) here.
These are freshly made in the kitchen from steamed water-chestnut flour studded with crunchy pieces of fresh water chestnut.
The bars are dipped in batter and deep fried just before serving to give them a crispy golden coat that contrasts nicely with the soft, mildly sweet cake underneath.
The only fault is that the bars are greasy, with oil stains clearly visible on the paper doily on the plate.
But that can be easily fixed by blotting the bars with kitchen towels before plating them. They are already less oily the second time I eat at the restaurant and another round of blotting may just complete the job.
The cooking here is a little rough around the edges, with an old Singapore feel to it. But the food is tasty, which for me counts for a lot.
So when you feel like a "big lazy" and want a casual meal with friends or family, this is a good choice.
•Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.