February 9, 2015
Having been awarded a Michelin Star for his restaurant Can Jubany in Spain, Nandu Jubany is en route to international expansion with FOC in Singapore. FOC (pronounced ‘fock’, and means ‘fire’ in Spanish) prepares exquisite Catalonian tapas dishes in accordance to the season and a plethora of personalized cocktails, of which the award-winning bartender Dario Knox formerly from Catalunya Singapore is in charge.
Ex-Foodbar Dada’s chef Jordi Noguera heads the kitchen at this new tapas joint.
Gigantes y cabezudos (or giants and big heads), is a popular festival celebrated in Spain involving these giant heads and is seen as a recurring theme in many of the interior features for FOC for that authentic, festive touch.
Because the whimsically adorned FOC accommodates only about 60 diners, many may find themselves standing in line during dinner begging for a seat underneath the glass ceiling or by the bar.
I would be lying if I said we weren’t in the least bit excited to have been invited to dine in the fast-popularizing restaurant below this colossal suspended head (or Cabezudo) for a lamp.
Thrilled with the cocktail selections, we picked a few before the slew of tapas dishes:
Smells Like Gin Spirit ($14++). Allegedly a taste of Nirvana, this green concoction laden with beautiful crushed ice infuses the fresh sourness and sweetness of lemongrass, agave, and lemon in gin to rejuvenate the drinker with a piquancy that not many cocktails can rival.
Watermelon “Gazpacho” & Smoked Olive Oil Ice Cream ($12++). Cold, sweet, and with a tinge of spice, I felt like I was drinking an olive-imbued salad dressing for appetizer. It truly is a visual delight, though I cannot admit to be the biggest fan of cold soups.
Bloody Jordi ($14++). On the other hand, the savoury Bloody Mary is my favourite cocktail. FOC’s version is the Bloody Jordi, one smoked-salt-rimmed glass of perfectly-balanced orange spice mixing cherry tomatoes, celery vinegar and lemon into tequila blanco. I can imagine returning for this amazing drink.
Professional Barman Dario truly lives up to his reputation.
“Coca” with Anchovies, Grilled Peppers & Spherical Cheese ($16++). This exotic fish sandwich loaded with tomato and cheese on a crispy traditional toast imported directly from Spain would set the tone for most of the other dishes that came in delicious tapas servings.
Mushroom Croquettes ($8++). In comparison with the other dishes, this deep fried mushroom croquettes dish is especially value-for-money and quite a technical feat to pull as the liquid mushroom within has to stay wet while the outer skin has to be fried dry.
Munch on the fragrant and thick skin to release a toothsome cream of mushroom that many covet. This is highly recommended.
Grilled Foie Gras Sliders with Marinated Shitake ($22++). Unlike what you may have expected from the photograph, the puffy homemade bread is intrinsically pillow-soft, and it packs a strong shitake mushroom scent and a delicate piece of creamy foie gras in bite sizes so you don’t get overdosed on umami. Generally an interestingly-flavoured mini burger of even consistency and fatty goodness.
Octopus Gallician Style- Slow Cooked & Charcoal Grilled ($22++). I was amazed by the tenderness of the sliced octopus, resting atop light-bodied mash and dressed in paprika spices. Smoky and fresh, it truly is appetizing.
Pulled Pork “Tapa Taco” ($14++). Little can be discussed about this taco without the mention of a dominant Chinese influence, which perhaps lends to a milder finish in the spinach and pulled pork. Unless you have a penchant for fusion, this could be passed on for better alternatives.
Grilled Scallops with Soy Caviar & Bonito Stock ($16++). A thick and salty sweetness drenches the 2 scallops that are served on a shucked sea shell. Consequently, flavours from the soy caviar and scallops were blended together – I did find the scallop to be sufficiently springy.
Black Mediterranean Squid Ink Paella ($22). The euphoria we experienced while digging into this hotplate was unparalleled at the lunch. A balanced saltiness pervades the slightly toasted rice grains and squid morsels, and the squid ink aioli that trumps the dish is simply delicious. I enjoyed the clams and shrimp as well, which complimented the excellence of the squid ink paella.
Grilled Red Prawns ($25++). A seasonal deep-sea prawn, we weren’t really informed in detail where this particular prawn came from but I’m guessing from the Mediterranean Sea similarly where the famed Carabineros shrimps are from, although the size and quality is distinctively different.
Grilled “Chuleton” Beef Steak with Garnish (150g) ($35++). This US Angus Beef Prime Ribeye is impeccably grilled to emit a smoky flavour in this tender, yet nicely chewy body. Match this with the piquillo peppers on the side for a wholesome taste of light spice and meat.
FOC Chocolate Burger ($12). This amazingly cute dessert ‘burger’ is actually made with white chocolate as the bun, chocolate ganache as the patty, mango as the ‘cheese’, strawberries as the faux tomato and mint leaves as the ‘salad’.
Creatively assembled and equally decadent to consume, this is a refreshing finish to the meal most girls will scream about.
For any interested parties, a private dining area obscured by red curtains is available at FOC.
Not surprisingly, FOC’s Spanish tapas fare for the most part tasted of a classy distinction unmatched only be a few selected other Spanish tapas bars in Singapore. As with tapas joints, portions are quite limited and I did leave not exactly bursting at the belt though, so you might want to get a larger number of staples.
The advantage is of course being able to sample a large variety of excellent dishes among friends, the standard of which is comparable to some of the best Spanish restaurants Singapore has to offer while not being as pricey. The cocktail creations are equally of stellar example.
Expected damage: $60 – $90 / pax