Thursday, April 24, 2014

Encore at Fofo Privat

We were part of the group who booked out Fofo Privat, the private venue owned by the Fofo by El Willy people, for a birthday celebration dinner of our friend this past Saturday.

The restaurant occupied the top two floors of a six-story building right beside where Fofo the regular restaurant is located, with the entrance opening up to a dark side alley. On the first level is the kitchen in an open set-up, with a dining area which can sit 6-8 people, and the floor above - where we were seated - is another private room which could sit up to 20. Decor followed the similar minimalist theme of its regular restaurant, and it also came with a small rooftop lounge, perfect for chill-out before or after the meal.

(Left) Bikini Sandwich (Right) Paella Crisp with Saffron or Squid Ink
We were quite impressed at our last visit to the restaurant not long ago so we came with high expectation, knowing what their culinary team is capable of delivering. This evening we were served a 7-course menu. Well technically it's specially designed for the party, but if you have the false expectation of something out of this world in terms of creativity (with this being a private kitchen and Spanish restaurant and all that), you may be slightly disappointed. Most of the items - including the signature bikini sandwich and the roasted suckling pig - came straight from their regular a la carte menu. But overall I think the execution is rock solid and consistent, compared to our only other visit, and all the dishes came with very nice presentation and good taste to match.

Marinated Red Prawn, Essence, Roasted Almonds and Oscietra Caviar
Among all the dishes we had, two of the courses did worth special mentioning. The oyster with lime and chili granita was refreshing and balanced - again, nothing too creative about this combination, but the oyster's fresh and with good minerality, and the granita has just the right hot-sour kick to complement. I was also very impressed with the marinated red prawn with roasted almonds and caviar, which was presented like a painting on a black slate "canvas" plate. The red prawn, or gambas in Spanish, was thinly sliced and lightly cured to reveal its original fresh flavor, enhanced by the presence of caviar and a reduction sauce made from the shrimp shells.

Spanish Suckling Pig, Mini Vegetables, "mojo picon" & caramelized pineapple
Both main courses - the suckling pig and the slow-cooked wagyu cheek - were decent, except the pig skin was still not as crispy as I have wanted, the same comments I had last time. But I did like the combination of the "Mojo Picon" sauce (which somewhat tasted like romesco) with the pig though. It's a simple yet delicious dish. I personally found the diced beetroot which was served next to the slow-braised wagyu beef cheek and potato gratin a little out of place but it wasn't bad per se.

Wagyu Beef cheek with saute spinach, pumpkin, black truffle potato gratin and pickled beetroot
But again, if you have the false expectation of flawless VIP service at the private venue, you may find yourself out of luck. There were minor issues such as the long time it took to serve everyone and in between each courses, or the staff were nowhere to be seen whenever we need their assistance with wines and water. (our friend's been busy opening wine bottles all evening long for us) Then I guess the place is handicapped by the kitchen being one level downstairs and they were slightly short-staffed the evening we were there. Other than that we felt comfortable in general, having the venue all by ourselves, with freedom to roam around and talk and laugh loud all we wanted.

The birthday girl was kind enough to let us share part of her fine wine collection, so we had a vertical flight of some of the recent vintages of Ch. Pontet Canet (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007). I didn't take detailed tasting notes of every single one, but I would say the 2001 was probably the most approachable at this point, opening up with good nose and rounded tannins, and the 2006 vintage showed the greatest potential for further development, given the rich tannins and concentration. And even at present stage it's already very lovely - I tasted anything from ripe cherry to a hint of espresso and earthy flavor with long and pleasant after taste.

Overall, I think all of us did enjoy this lovely dinner gathering, with great wine, decent food. and a comfortable venue, plus last but not least, good company. That was a happy night.

The rest of the pictures can be found here:

When? April 19 2014
Where? Fofo Privat, 4th-5th Floor, 10 Wellington Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Marinated Red Prawn, Essence, Roasted Almonds and Oscietra Caviar
Chateau Pontet Canet 2001
Chateau Pontet Canet 2003
Chateau Pontet Canet 2004
Chateau Pontet Canet 2006
Chateau Pontet Canet 2007

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