It’s an interior designer’s dream to get a blank box and be given the permission to play. Double points if this box is also brand new and has open city views. Well, the assignment for the design team of CL3 was exactly that (CL3 is the collaborative behind such projects as Sands Singapore, EAST Hotel and Adrenaline at the Jockey Club), with a condition that the owner wanted a few penguins and pigs thrown into the mix. The playful décor might sounds strange to some, with rows of wooden penguins and the dining room being bookended by “sliced” pork, but it’s all done, somehow, in good taste.
The story goes like this: the banker-turned-restaurateur in question went to Shanghai and fell in love with tapas at the 1928 Spanish colonial tapas house el Willy. Chef Willy encouraged her to travel to his hometown of Barcelona to get the real experience, and when she returned to Hong Kong, she leased the top floor of M88 to start her dream project, and brought along Chef Willy to consult. The result is FoFo, which sounds vaguely like “fat fat”.
And so to the table, and our first impression was a perplexed one. From left to right we were presented with fork, plate, knife and chopsticks. No one told us this was fusion food. Some of the diners might prefer using chopsticks, said the waitstaff. We shrugged off this fairly odd-for-a-tapas joint detail; the food was why we came.
Now, 65 degrees Celsius is considered the perfect temperature to cook eggs and, for our huevos estrellados, which was cooked at this ideal temperature using a sous vide, the white came out as smooth as custard, while the yolk was leaky and creamy. It coated our bowl of potato matchsticks and diced chorizo. What they were going for was a gourmet’s delight of perfect eggs sitting on top of a bed of potato hay. But what came out was a mess of cracked eggs in a bowl of fries. It didn’t look nice, more like a $98 hangover delight.
The cubed suckling pig was served on little potato stools then glossed with jus and mojo picon (red pepper wine reduction) and green oil made with parsley and spinach ($98). Like siu youk the belly crackled at first bite, but unless you enjoy eating straight pig fat, you’re unlikely to enjoy this dish. The sauce made little difference to the taste; seemingly it was for decorative purposes.
We fared better with the croquettes filled with creamed potatoes, chorizo and porcini with a crispy jacket ($110), a classic combination of ingredients and complementary flavours. Of all the tapas, this most resembled our eating tours of Barcelona. Creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside, this was our pick of the dishes we tried. The juicy rice ($135 for half portion) was more like a very wet risotto than Spanish paella, and so may better suit local tastes. It was delicious, plump with mushrooms and topped with a thin slice of prosciutto.
Tapas is traditionally a casual affair. But here it’s gone upscale. Judge for yourself whether that’s a good idea or not. They do, however, have one of the best rooftop bars in Central, and that should help keep the cash register ringing even if the food doesn’t.