Like a magician with a particular flair for showmanship, Spanish maestro Nandu Jubany of Michelin-starred Can Jubany fame, produces a gastronomical spectacular of sorts, cloaked by the industrial facades of Hong Kong Street.
With his lovely assistants Jordi Noguera of Foodbar Dada lineage, and Dario Nocentini plucked from the Catalunya bar, Jubany conducts quite a show of Spanish culinary arts. The restaurant has just the fitting look, with zany motifs reminiscent of Picasso, materialized as if from a dreamscape. Pepper grinder light fixtures and super-sized sculptures of familiar faces float above the dining space. A vintage motorcycle adorns the walls, and the food too has a quirky appearance that eclipses the unexpectedly classic flavours. Jubany introduces Catalan folk cuisine, and with a wave of the wand, adds brilliant Asian twists.
The black Mediterranean paella is filling yet nuanced in taste, and the patatas bravas and tomato bread both show a different side of the traditional tapas dishes. On the more Asian end of the spectrum, the Thai razor clams are delightfully piquant, while the roasted duck with orange zest dumplings show the chef’s hubris in remaking local favourites. The varied menu even includes gluten-free options like the chocolate hamburger, a dessert indicative of the humourous approach FOC takes to dining.
From the bar, brilliantly innovative cocktails are not in short supply. The menu is a clear demonstration of Nocentini’s flexing of his creative muscles, using such unique ingredients as Matcha powder, cornflakes vodka, and galangal rum (though not all in the same drink).
If the name of the restaurant sounds like the slip of the tongue could be a dangerous one, it’s not an unintentional coincidence. Meaning fire in Catalan, FOC certainly plays with fire both in its name, its daring dishes, and its unapologetically unconventional approach to nouveau dining. (Sep 2014)