FOC (by Nandu Jubany)

After what was essentially an anti-hipster post last week I’m taking you to the complete opposite end of the spectrum this week. I normally try not to get too caught up in the hype of new restaurant openings in Singapore. One because I physically couldn’t manage to get to them all even if I wanted to, and two because I find it’s best to let a new restaurant find their feet before I get in there with a critical eye. Every now and then though there’s a reason to change that and last week it was my lovely friend H who booked us in to the newly opened FOC. I’d heard enough about FOC to know that there was a media frenzy but I didn’t particularly know why. I left it at that and decided to make my own judgement when I arrived.

Walking along the increasingly trendy Hong Kong Street I could sense the aura of hipster-cool-ville as I approached. Valet parking guys at the front, a few people smoking and quite a buzz emanating as soon as the door slid open. We were seated at the bar, one of my favourite spots to be, and this experience certainly didn’t change that. Mainly because that was where Jordi (more about him later) was intensely and lovingly supervising every dish as it landed from the kitchen and he added the final flourishes. Talk about action packed. I was starving too so seeing and smelling everything up close made my mouth water from the moment I was seated.

The next thing to notice was the cool interior. It’s hard to explain, and my photo does no justice at all, but all around the restaurant are these very cool papier mache heads, yes, peoples heads. There are six in all and they’re apparently replicas of the various partners associated with the restaurant, including Jordi. The Asian heads in the main eating area are the local partners who I have to say mostly reminded me of Chairman Mao. Anyway, they are certainly eye catching and a change from the standard polished concrete and bare lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling that we see everywhere else these days. Speaking of lights, the lights at FOC are recycled Salt and Pepper mills dangling from the ceiling. Cute.

Drinks were ordered, H decided on a snazzy version of a G&T for me which was a fine starter, but I quickly decided that wine was what I wanted so we moved on. The food menu is extensive, so much so that I didn’t even make it to mains. And because of our seating position we just asked what was best and saw what we liked and ordered that way.

The gazpacho was recommended. I am no gazpacho fan at all but a recommendation is a recommendation and when it comes from the very sweet Jordi Noguera (he was chef at the sadly closed FoodBar Dada) it’s hard to resist. I didn’t know who Jordi was until our visit, nor did I know who the namesake of the restaurant (Nandu Jubany) was, but I guess I’m not into all that hype (or am I???) Well anyway, I liked Jordi from the moment he recommended the gazpacho (plus it didn’t hurt that he was a bit of a cutey 😉 ) So the watermelon gazpacho, served with olive oil ice-cream, was seriously delicious. A perfect starter with really interesting flavour combinations. The sweetness of the watermelon offsets an otherwise savoury dish, whilst the ice-cream texture and temperature round the whole thing off. I really enjoyed this. Even H who is not crazy about watermelon found it tasty, the flavours really are quite subtle.

Next was the ‘Coca de nachos y escalivada, con queso Idiazabal’ or what I’d call peppers, eggplant and anchovy on crispy bruschetta type bread, served with a dollop of a delightfully subtle sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. Lovely, not particularly outstanding but lovely.

This was followed by char grilled asparagus, char grilled perfectly and very tasty, then a potato and chorizo dish with a delightfully just cooked egg in the middle that melted like sauce into the pan as we broke it (picture at top). Very tasty but quite heavy. Mushroom croquetas were perfectly crispy but they were a little too large for my liking, the creamy filling being too rich for me.

We were then treated to Jordi’s grandma’s Cod fish fritters, these were super! Five little puff balls of creamy fish and potato, ever so lightly fried and bursting with flavour whilst being light as a butterfly. Really delicious and different.

And although at this stage we were well and truly stuffed, we couldn’t resist the dessert burger. We’d watched this presented in front of us and couldn’t quite believe our eyes. It looks like a proper burger, albeit miniature and a little plastic like, but at a distance definitely like a burger. The ‘bun’ though is made of white ice-cream, the ‘patty’ is chocolate, ‘salad’ leaves of mint and ‘tomato’ of strawberry. It was certainly gimmicky and definitely clever but way off the chart in sweetness for my liking. H loved it though and finished most of my half.

The meal was a mix of some really stand out dishes and some that were just ok. But there are so many things I’d still like to try; patatas bravas, the signature paella of squid ink and the gorgeous looking octopus, that I will definitely be heading back there. The service for us was wonderful. Aside from Jordi there was a very informative Spanish lady and lots of other enthusiastic staff around. I think we were lucky sitting at the end of the bar so it was easy to get attention, I sensed that the tables may have been more frustrated with the service. The thing that really stood out at FOC was that you could see that everyone working here is into their food, there is the secret ingredient required for any good restaurant, love, and it abounds at FOC.

Incidentally, FOC means ‘fire’ in Catalan, and it’s pronounced as a word, not as an acronym. Just be careful on your pronunciation 😉 .

We paid around $43 each, including gst and service, for the food. Wine was between $10++ and $12++ for a glass and cocktails were $16++ each.
40 Hong Kong Street, Singapore, 059679
phone +65 6100 4040

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