I lost count of the number of foodie friends who urged me to pay Pim Pam by FOC a visit. Pim Pam is not at its official address at Claymore Connect; It has taken over the shop space of defunct Bodega Y Tapas and Esmirada, which had been there for years. Given my recent amazing experience at FOC Sentosa, it took little impetus to make a reservation at Pim Pam.
Here’s a little history lesson: FOC opened in 2014, with Michelin-starred chef Nandu Jubany as consultant. Recently, FOC ambitiously opened FOC Sentosa and Pim Pam at similar time.
What is the difference between the three restaurants? All serve Spanish-Catalan small plates, and many items on their menus are repeated in all three restaurants. FOC Sentosa stands out among the 3 because it serves grilled items. (BBQ by the sea, get it?) FOC and Pim Pam are very similar, except that Pim Pam seems to be more casual, less innovative, less refined, and catered to a wider drinking public.
From the salad section, people order the stracciatella ($16), which is like a zucchini cake, and from the eggs section, people get the trinxat ($12), layers of mashed potatoes, cabbage, deep fried egg, pork belly. But our server did not recommend the salad and egg, and so we didn’t get them.
What is most popular for the tapas section, according to the server, are the croquetas. Of the four types of croquetas, ham ($2.50/pc) and crab ($2.50/pc) are most popular. We got the crab, which is dabbed with aioli and spicy sauce, adding an edge to the crab cake. (Come on, it’s a mini crab cake, right?) But there is no texture to it–it is similar to a puree within–and I’d prefer some shreds of crab meat.
We also got the spinach and pine nuts croquetas ($2/pc), just to pretend that we were healthy and eat some fibre, although at this mashed a state, I doubt there is much fibre left. Crispy outside, inside it was almost like creamed spinach, a side dish often found at steakhouses.
For the paella section, the pork chop and scallop paella ($22) has (I think) bits of jalapeno mixed in the rice, which gives it a zesty, spicy flavor that I like. The little bits of what we Asians would have called 排骨 are deeply marinated. But on the whole, it is too salty, and the scallops aren’t fresh. Mr Fitness complained repeatedly, “Wow, they really just put one layer of rice grain. Why so stingy?”
From the mains section, the server recommended chicken a la Catalana ($14), which comes with two drumsticks covered in a thick gravy made from pine nuts, plums, cinnamon, tomato, caramelized onions. It fills the mouth with a smoky flavor, but its dominant taste is sweet, which may be strange for a main.
From the sandwich/burger section, we thought el madriles ($10) is interesting because it’s a calamari sandwich with black garlic mayo and pickled onion. This, unfortunately, turned out to be the worst dish for the night. It is bland, almost tasteless. There are ways to improve it: more salt, and the calamari needed to be crispy to give a textural contrast.
Having had such good experiences at FOC and FOC Sentosa, we visited Pim Pam by FOC with high hopes. Unfortunately, good things do not come in threes. Pim Pam is not bad, but it is my least favorite of the 3 FOC outlets. Pim Pam is less refined, less adventurous, and more formulaic than FOC; Pim Pam is much less delicious and less convivial than FOC Sentosa. The finesse in the food at FOC and FOC Sentosa could not be found at Pim Pam’s. But one outstanding area of Pim Pam is that it is most affordable among the 3 restaurants. We paid $65 for 2 persons.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.