Dapur Asian Tapas & Lounge is a surprisingly huge, hip space in a tiny strip of stores on U.S.1 in Fort Lauderdale. From its brick facade, you might expect a small tavern (its last incarnation was MJ’s Rock and Roll Clubhouse), but wait till you step inside. Edi Mulyanto, who founded Galanga in Wilton Manors, spent eight months transforming this 7,000-square-foot venue into a vibrant, vibey scene. Open just six weeks, Dapur looks like the hot new destination in town.
Despite its nightlife aspirations, Mulyanto hasn’t forgotten about the food. You wouldn’t expect a spot like this to have an organic garden, but Mulyanto, born in Indonesia, is growing lemongrass, galangal, three types of basil and other herbs behind the restaurant. The fresh papaya in your salad came from his garden at home or the one here. Cocktails also take advantage of fresh fruit and juices.
Dapur, which is the Indonesian word for kitchen, has an extensive menu that specializes in dishes from Southeast Asia but casts a wider net. Expect to find items with Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean and Japanese influences. Jumping on the small-plates bandwagon, Dapur offers nearly three dozen tapas-style choices plus 16 larger plates and specialty rolls. On two visits, we barely scratched the surface, but found both hits and misses.
Ambience: The young and beautiful are here, starting with the staff. You’ll be welcomed by sexy hostesses (I’d be surprised if anyone older than 30 is employed here) and loud, clubby music. If you’re here to party, head for the lounge area, where cherry-red couches beckon and a sleek, illuminated bar emits a purple glow. If you want a more subdued atmosphere, head to the dining room farthest from the bar. The 260-seat restaurant is painted in purple and lime green, with a gold Buddha standing watch and sheer curtains, dark tile and warm lighting softening the dramatic decor.
- Flavorful, albeit a little greasy, Thai pancakes filled with green mussels and eggs in a tempura shell and garnished with scallions and bean sprouts
- The crunchy eel roll, pairing smoked eel with crab and cream cheese in an avocado wrapping and a light tempura crunch
- Dapur spider rolls – a soft-shell crab brightened by a dip into eel sauce
- Sashimi tuna
- Thinly sliced salmon with a zingy lemon yuzu sauce
- Juicy & tender crispy duck served with Chinese broccoli and a kicky chile sauce (also available broiled)
- Indonesian beef rendang – slow-cooked for nearly five hours and enlivened by the exotic flavors of galangal, turmeric, tamarind, garlic, chile pepper and coconut milk
- Beef semur – a tenderloin tweaked with cinnamon and ground candlenut (from a tree native to the South Pacific)
- Passionfruit pie
- Coconut ice cream with a swirl of mango sorbet, served in a coconut shell
What Didn’t Work
- Chewy grilled whole calamari, served in slices with a so-so ginger soy sauce.