Although it’s no longer 2012, the year of tapas, the Asian-influenced Spanish-Catalan tapas at FOC is among the best tapas bars in Singapore, and among the best food I have had this year.
FOC (meaning “fire” in Catalan) is a collaboration between Michelin-starred Chef Nandu Jubany; Chef Jordi Noguera formerly from FoodBar Dada; and award-winning mixologist Dario Knox previously from Catalunya. What this means is Noguera is mostly in charge, while Jubany flies in every now and then to check on the quality.
The most incredible dish for me was watermelon gazpacho ($12), which they split into 2 portions on their own initiative, without us requesting. It came with an utterly fascinating olive oil ice cream that had an intense charcoal-smoke aroma, as thick as a BBQ pit. I burped that beautiful aroma throughout the day; I AM A DRAGON (or a chimney).
Another must order: Seemingly innocuous and run-of-mill, the octopus gallega ($22) was smoky, savory, sweet, tender as a pillow, complementing the sweetness of the carb, a rustic mashed potato with remnant chunks. With each bite, my feelings for it grew and grew until I was willing to stay in the icy water and die, letting it outlive me on a flotsam although the flotsam had space for two. My heart will go on.
The rest of the dishes were good too. The braised beef cheek ($16, below) came between a steamed-then-grilled bread, which was like mantou. Confited pork belly ($14, below) and its crackling skin sandwiched a cauliflower puree.
What disappointed me (but what Huccalyly liked) was the cod fish puff fritters with green apple puree ($10, below). Though stuffed with fish shreds, it was greasy. What disappointed Huccalyly (but what I liked) was the dessert, FOC Chocolate Burger ($12). It looked like a burger, but was entirely crafted with white chocolate and vanilla mousse (for the bun), mango (for the cheese), mint (for lettuce), strawberry (for tomato), and chocolate (for patty). Very playful.
There were only a Filipino server and a Spanish manageress who looked as stern as Bjork. We kept a menu with us, and placed it on a chair, and she came to straighten the menu. We conjectured she would have been a tiger mom, or a Catholic nun; nothing must be out of place. Huccalyly quickly zipped her handbag, and tucked it at a corner neatly. We sat up straight, and watched our table manners.
But when we praised the food to her, she smiled indulgently at us, and became amicable. I liked her, I liked her no-nonsense attitude, and although there were only 2 wait staff, she was so efficient it felt like she was everywhere at once.
Not a burger, but a playful dessert: FOC Chocolate Burger
We paid $105 for two persons, a reasonable price. FOC checks all the right boxes: good food, service, decor, and pricing. Highly recommended.
40 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059679
T: +65 6100 4040
Rating: 3.875/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.