Dapur in Fort Lauderdale: For the Scene, Not the Cuisine

Dapur in Fort Lauderdale: For the Scene, Not the Cuisine
Pecel - Assorted vegetables, shrimp crackers, Quail eggs, and an Indonesian Peanut Sauce.

In the dining room of Dapur on a square white plate, a seafood tower leans like Pisa. A crispy homemade rice cake serves as the base, with separate layers of neon avocado, sweet lump crab, and spicy tuna. It's topped with a tendril of green melon skin that cascades down the sides. Flavors are less distinct than the levels: undersalted and muted, except for the bite in an angry pink layer that's macerated into form. The $14 plate called "hot tower" is served room temperature yet illuminates the dining room's emphasis on pretty.

It isn't just the food on the plate that's sculpted. It's the calves of the women servers who click through the dining room on heels during service. For a shoe fetishist, the female staff is a bounty of stilettos, pumps, wedges, and kitten heels. "Would you like another glass of Prosecco?" a dark- haired pixie server asks me. Her dress, a Shantung green sheath matching the wall's color, looks like cocktail attire.

Dapur opened on North Federal in Fort Lauderdale this past July, a creation of Edi Mulyanto, a former general manager of Galanga, a Wilton Manors mainstay celebrated for its scene over cuisine. At Galanga, carved wooden screens and a giant saltwater fish tank anchor the eye in a restaurant that's attentive to design details.

The $12 miso cod, usually a crowd pleaser, arrived shriveled and dry.
The $12 miso cod, usually a crowd pleaser, arrived shriveled and dry.

Such is the case at Dapur, where even the entrance offers visual stimuli. Retro-chrome bar tables frame one side of the door, a fountain and greenery on the other, and papery chandeliers light the mood — all this before a customer even walks inside. At the bar off to the left, speakers that would dwarf a child pump beats so loud that you feel it in your chest. To the right in the dining room, a giant golden Buddha meditates against the wall, while another lounges in a painting framed in purple. Gossamer room dividers flutter in a fan-induced breeze. Orchids pose in bursts of magenta.

"We're really sorry we don't have a sushi bar," says a host who's dressed like a geisha. "You'll have to sit at the table alone."

Sushi is not available at the bar, only hot dishes and savories, despite that there's no differentiation in the menu between rooms. The host sat me next to his stand, "so we can keep you company," he said, and he did.

He delivered the $12 royal tuna roll, the most popular sushi item. Striped in layers of pink tuna and white wahoo, it would make a girly-girl squeal. A white jalepeño aioli painted the plate in dots and dashes. As pretty as it was, Dapur apparently has not gotten the memo: Tuna's overfished. The result means so-so fish that's been gassed to keep up appearances. Despite the pretty presentation, the roll is forgettable.

Tables showcasing purple napkins and plenty of elbow room are spaced far enough apart that conversation between them is nonexistent, yet the echo from the bare space has an underwater effect. At one table, a family of three gets comfortable: a blond mother in a French bateau shirt, her husband in black Costello specks, and an 8-year-old boy in green Crocs playing drums with his chopsticks. Nearby, it's date night: A manicured woman in towering heels and a navy chiffon sparkly dress pulls her chair closer to her hunky, dressed-down date. Closer to the entrance, three guys with long wavy hair and in buttoned-downs and pegged pants peruse a cocktail menu that offers dozens of options.

This cocktail menu is among the more ambitious of any offered in South Florida right now, with one page of $10 classics such as a negroni and an old-fashioned and another a list of newfangled drinks such as the Dartmoor, with cucumber and lemon, Plymouth gin, and St. Germain. I ordered a negroni from the bartender after 10, in between dinner and clubbing hour.

"What's in it again?" asked the bartender, who is more used to making sweet sips than bitter apéritifs. It arrives looking like no negroni should, rather like a sherbet Push-Up ice cream treat: the top layer white, the lower half orange. This wasn't the only cocktail bartenders were botching. A drinks 101 lesson for the staff may be in order for such a list.

The bar would seem the place to chat with fellow diners and drinkers, yet the acoustics prevent it, steering the night's adventure from the company to the savory offerings. And it's here where appearances unravel. A $6 oxtail soup is served in a shallow trough, three bones with bright-red meat still adherent, in a lemongrass broth that's hardly skimmed. The soup is inedible. I should have sent it back.

A dish that's usually a crowd pleaser, the $12 miso cod arrives as three medallions alone on a plate. Laden with bones, the fish is shriveled and dry. The $9 hamachi kama is similarly disconcerting. Masquerading as a triangle-shaped pastry framed by a jawbone and a stray fin, it's overcooked. Fish flakes like old paper, devoid of succulence.

The $10 pecel is a disaster. "We've never served this," said the bartender upon order. And for good reason. A bowl of waffled vegetables is dolloped with peanut sauce, walled with boxy tofu, layered with stale tongues of shrimp crackers, and garnished with a trio of hard-boiled quail eggs. It's a shame of a plate.

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33 comments
Deeeverett
Deeeverett

the issue I have with this article is not whether the food is good or bad, same for service and the bartender, rather the way it was written. As a "food critic', you should be direct and focused, there is no need to write a novel here, and a bad one at that. RESPECT YOUR JOB AND REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WORKING THEIR BOOTY OFF TO DELIVER. They might have come up short, but no need to kill them slowly.

Dave R
Dave R

Wow!  I REALLY miss "The Four Rivers" after reading this article.

Ritzr
Ritzr

Totallly agree. Nice place but the food doesn't really deliver. Overpriced small plates also. 

Daddy
Daddy

They must not advertise with New Times.  Typical of them to give good reviews to places that advertise with them.  Dont loose your readers by being bias!!!!!!!!!

clblfl
clblfl

ate there shortly after they opened...staff needed training and the food was horrid.  miso was like eating a salt block

Heather Sloane
Heather Sloane

Whoever wrote this article obviously has a personal problem with the owner. I completely disagree with the article and nasty comments. I have been to Dapur several times with different groups of people and we had an amazing experience each time. The prices and quality of food are great! The staff is completely warm and there to help make your experience even better.. Thank You Edi for creating such a wonderful new restaurant right around the corner. 

Bebep
Bebep

It sounded like she had a problem with the food not the owner.

Edi Mulyanto
Edi Mulyanto

 Dear Melissa,Thank you for taking your time writing about Dapur, even though is so unfortunate for Dapur’s family to read your review. It seems nothing is good about the restaurant. With all the respect to your opinion, I would like to clarify about Dapur’s concept, we are focusing in the South East Asian cuisine which is very unfamiliar to many South Floridians; for instance” pecel” which is a traditional Indonesian salad, is based on cooked assorted vegetables and peanut sauce with a hint of kaffir lime. And I created oxtail soup with the old recipe that my mother made for me since I was growing up. I am very proud of both of my chefs; Supardi and Tony and with their dedication to create high quality food at a reasonable price. The two of them have been very supportive of my idea of growing most of our herbs and vegetables in our very own garden. I hope that one day you will enjoy Dapur as much as I and the Dapur family does. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who has been supporting and enjoying Dapur since we opened less than 3 months ago. We will do our best to provide you with a great expectations. I would also like to share with you the following reviews from other recent publications: http://sflchronicle.com/review... you and Best Regards,Edi Mulyanto

Tyredfsw
Tyredfsw

Nobody cares what Melissa or the clowns at sflchronicle think, but that picture paints 1000 words. That is one unappetizing looking dish.

Wendi
Wendi

I completely disagree with you.  I ate there with my husband and another couple about a month ago and we thought the food was fantastic!!!!

Stefan Kamph
Stefan Kamph

The name of this restaurant is uncomfortably close to "diaper."

Ms. Truthy Saidit
Ms. Truthy Saidit

To whom it may concern,

    Yes, Ms. Truthy Saidit is here to tell you the truth. Truth is what I believe in and Truth is what you'll get. First off what happened to your table Manners! did you leave them in Wilton ? that goes for you the manager that invites people to a HUGE birthday party for himself to a newly formed restaurant that you manage and don't even offer anyone a birthday drink or something on the house to your guests. Everyone talked about that MISTAKE ha (way to make a Dolla) That will be 8 Dollas for your drink ? 8 dollassss Whaaa? who me ? oh no I'm here for the managers birthday, he invited me ? "oh thats great, but there's nothing on the house tonight for his birthday" OMG LIKE THAT'S SO DAPUR ONLY ITS SPELLED DAPPER aka lady's and Gentleman that's right so NOT HOT! better check yourself into another restaurant were service is more efficient and real. Management will never take anything off the bill for you if it's wrong all they'll do is replace it and yes, they will make you eat it! cause they aint givin ya money back!! A restaurant that has nothing to offer there friends or family, is a restaurant considered BIYOCHSLAPPED !! 

Till next time I'm just hear to tell the Truth, the Truth that Grandaddy always told me to do.

Best of Luck,

Ms. Truthy Saidit 

Stanley
Stanley

Walked in and were greeted by the most beautiful hostesses I've ever seen. It went downhill from there. This is the noisiest restaurant I've ever been in. Whoever designed this place should have covered the bare walls with carpeting to prevent the sound from bouncing arounf. I couldn't wait to leave.

Brucie
Brucie

It might be useful to mention that it's very "gay friendly" before recommending the scene. It's certainly not for everybody.

 
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