In Chinese, ‘Foo’ is luck, prosperity and abundance.
For Bengalureans, Foo is the new kid on the Oriental block, a restaurant that spins an Asian twist on Spanish tapas, all the while promising a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of flavour.
But for Ryan and Keenan Tham, Foo is all of the above, and more.
The third-generation restaurateur brothers were in Bengaluru recently for the launch of the city counterpart of Foo, a restaurant they conceptualised in 2018 in Mumbai. “This is our eighth outlet. So Foo really has been lucky for us!” says Keenan, the younger of the two siblings.
The Tham family has a long association with the Indian food scene. Ryan and Keenan’s grandfather Tham Mon Yiu founded restaurants Kamling and Mandarin in Mumbai close to 65 years ago. Their father, Henry Tham, started an eponymous fine-dining restaurant in the early 2000s. Today, his sons are the names behind popular establishments such as The Good Wife, Koko and Foo.
After having made bellies and hearts full with seven outlets in Mumbai, Foo, the Asian tapas restaurant, has finally entered the Bengaluru F&B scene. It makes its presence felt, right from its iconic location, The Forum Rex Walk, on Brigade Road, to its blooming crimson interiors and colour scheme.
A smart choice because not only does the place immediately transport you to Chinatown, red is popularly believed to trigger an appetite as well. And with Foo, it is best to come with an empty stomach to do full justice to their menu. With over 140 items on the menu, there is something for everyone, be it vegetarian, gluten-free or Jain.
Tapas are popular in Spanish cuisine and encompass small plates or appetisers that best go along with drinks. Foo recreates the experience with sushis, dimsums, baos and more, and was born from the desire to push the idea of a group of three comfortably trying six to seven dishes without burning a hole in their pocket.
For starters, go with The Wasabi, Truffle & Edamame Dumpling, and Foo Yam Bean Uramaki. Do not let the unassuming appearance of the former fool you, it packs a punch and will make you want seconds. The latter is as much a feast for the eyes as the stomach, given that it makes use of blue rice. Skip the Crystal Dumpling and go for the Lotus Root one instead, and if you are up for another sushi, give the Shisoto Charcoal Tempura Uramaki a shot. Meat eaters can enjoy the Charcoal Har-Gow or the Salmon Ceviche.
A visit to Foo can tingle not just your taste buds but brain cells too. For the culinary curious, the menu can introduce them to Nikkei — a Japanese-Peruvian combination of technique and ingredients. Non-vegetarian diners can find the proof of the pudding in the ceviche, whereas vegetarians can try the Nikkei Avocado Uramaki instead. For those unfamiliar with the terms, the restaurant’s team is happy to help with deconstruction of the degustation.
Each outlet of the brand also presents something unique. While some Foos are smaller, seating 75 patrons, the one in Bengaluru can comfortably accommodate 120 across its first split-floor model. Another first in this outlet: A private dining room that can seat 18, making it perfect for group gatherings or family fiestas.
The second floor also displays a chic and shiny bar with an eclectic array of drinks. There is a Wasabi Margarita, a Miso Sour (whiskey with miso caramel, yuzu, shisho infusion and lime) and their signature Foo King, which combines vodka with plum liqueur, musk melon, lemon and French vanilla. Hang out here for a laidback post-work tipple and the skilled hands behind the counter ensure you are entertained with their flair bartending. The counter is appropriately positioned next to their picturesque Japanese cherry blossom decor. Truly the perfect backdrop for those instagram worthy photographs of your drink. Also snap worthy are the Gauva Togarashi Fizz and Sparkling Yuzu Mojito if you are indulging in a zero-alcohol working lunch.
The aesthetic appeal does not stop there. While the small plates are definitely the star, the main course puts up a fair fight as well. Between drinks and tapas, if you still do not mind something more, go for the Foo Blue Butter Japanese Fried Rice. It pairs well with the Foo Yellow Curry. A riot of colours and flavour both, the culinary team — headed by chef Eric Sifu — has played around with butterfly pea flower for the cerulean hue, and the curry combines chestnut, broccoli and mushroom. Buttery rice and a creamy curry, this dish screams comfort.
In desserts, the Black Marble Sesame Cheesecake is interesting and testament to chef Sifu’s inventiveness. For larger groups, or for fans of drama, there is Mount Foo-ji, and it certainly makes an entrance with flair and flourish. A multi-tiered dessert, the Mount Foo-ji comes veiled in liquid nitrogen and contains a mango pudding topped with vanilla, a sesame cheesecake, a hazelnut dome, and hazelnut and coconut ice creams. And for the health conscious, there’s fresh cut fruit on the platter too. Aptly named, this one ensures an eruption of saccharine-induced happiness all around.
Foo Asian Tapas
Hits: Wasabi, Truffle & Edamame Dumpling, and Foo Yam Bean Uramaki
Misses: Crystal Dumpling
Wallet factor: For two: ₹1500 + tax (without alcohol)
Foo Asian Tapas is on the ground floor, Forum Rex Walk, Brigade Rd, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560001