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For my Christmas dinner this year in Singapore, my friends decided to bring me to a Spanish restaurant in Singapore located right beside the Orchard Hotel.
Pim Pam is the third restaurant opened by the people behind FOC, which includes Michelin-starred Chef Nandu Jubany, Chef Jordi Noguera and Mixologist Dario Knox. Despite it’s premium location, Pim Pam by FOC is targeted at the more casual diner and meant to represent the Spanish Tapas culture.
The restaurant features colorful murals and furniture, giving a sense of passion and vibrancy, a reflection of the Spanish culture and cuisine. Marble table tops add a touch of class into the mix.
In the evening, the lighting throughout the restaurant is comfortably dim and easy on the eyes, yet with every table top sufficiently lit.
An open kitchen is the center-piece of the restaurant, immaculately clean and neatly laid out.
The ambience at Pim Pam by FOC is casual enough for a night out with friends but also refined enough for a romantic date. 8/10
From stepping foot into the restaurant to our toilet breaks, service was exemplary throughout. Every server would establish eye contact, followed with a smile of acknowledgement.
Recommendations were given for drinks and food without us asking, and we were even praised with a “Good choice!” for a item we picked. While possibly superficial, it was a small detail that one rarely encounters and added a unique and humane element to the experience. 9/10
The Spanish food served at Pim Pam by FOC is classified as Barcelonan, and features a good variety of Tapas alongside some dishes from their other restaurants.
The menu is on a single board, simple and straight forward at one glance, just the way I like my menus.
Octopus Galician Style
FOC Style ‘Pulpo a la gallega’, mashed potatoes and smoked paprika for $22.
Pulpo a la gallega to me, is one of the most representative dishes of Spanish cuisine, second only to the Paella.
In essence, there are 3 components to this dish: boiled octopus tentacle, paprika and potatoes. In some places as is the case at Pim Pam, the octopus tentacle is finished on the grill to char the exterior before slicing into bite sized chunks.
Thankfully the octopus at Pim Pam was tender while still retaining a bit of a bite to chew on. The edges as mentioned, were grilled for some added flavour from the Maillard reaction.
Unfortunately, I felt that chef might have been a little heavy handed on the aromatics for the boiling liquid, such that I could barely taste the natural flavours of the octopus, but instead a light mix of herb flavours.
It was also interesting that chunky mashed potatoes were paired instead of the usual potato medallions, aside from straying from the dish’s authenticity, I felt the mashed potatoes didn’t add anything special to the dish. I feel that this dish could be improved to give a wow factor upon tasting. Portions were generous though, as we later will find out is the case for all the dishes at Pim Pam. 7.5/10
Fun fact, the dish Pulpo a la Gallega inspired one of my signature sambal octopus dish back in the day in Shanghai when I ran a restaurant.
Prawns ‘Al Ajillo’
Pan-fried prawns, garlic, parsley and bread for $14.
Another classic Tapa and possibly one of, if not the best ways to eat prawns. Pim Pam’s rendition had six medium sized succulent deshelled prawns and were cooked perfectly with a bouncy but not hardened texture. There was a nice amount of light charring across every shrimp, translating into a burst of flavours alongside the obvious garlic in the mouth.
Worth a mention was also the garlic slices, which were crispy like crackers but not bitter from overcooking.
Lastly, mopping up the flavoured oil with the crusty bread was a lovely way to finish the dish. 9/10
Squid Ink Paella
Traditional Spanish black rice, squid and prawns for $26.
Paella to the Spanish is like claypot rice to the Chinese; Both dishes feature raw rice cooked together with raw meats to infuse the natural flavours of the ingredients with a bit of burnt rice at the base.
Arriving in a proper Paella pan, the squid ink Paella at Pim Pam looked deceptively simple, with only 4 shrimp laying on top of the obsidian grains.
Upon tasting, one would discover little cubes of squid nested within the savoury and just-cooked rice. The alternating textures were a joy to eat together with the perfectly pan-fried shrimp, cooked separately from the Paella.
The Paella was well seasoned without being too salty nor cloying from the richness of the squid ink and broth.
This was a very lovely rendition although I would have liked to taste just a tiny bit of charred rice flavours as is the case with a traditional Paella. Also this was possibly one of the Paellas that I had eaten with the least amount/variety of ingredients. That said, for $26, one really should not complain. 8.5/10
Beef ‘Tallata’ (300g)
Pan seared beef onglet, Spanish Piquillo peppers, shoestring fries for $35.
I was really hankering for a beef dish, and the sight of Piquillo peppers on a menu always induce me to order it. I first had encountered Piquillo peppers at The Commune Social in Shanghai, featured on bread with sea urchin.
The beef ‘Tallata’ at Pim Pam was likely named after the Italian Tagliata, which simply refers to sliced steak.
The cut of beef used was labelled as Onglet, which is more commonly known as ‘Hanger’ steak and also known as the chef’s cut. This normally discarded cut of beef is just as tender as tenderloin when cooked medium and packs a lot more beefy flavours than every other steak cut.
Our beef arrived perfectly cooked to medium as requested, and featured a robust beefy flavour that reminded me of the Uruguayan steaks I used to buy in Shanghai. I’m not sure where the beef at Pim Pam came from (Sorry I forgot to ask), but I would not be surprised if they were from South America.
Sadly only two pieces of Piquillo peppers came with the beef, but thankfully they were as sweet and fragrant as I had remembered them to be. I believe the peppers had been dressed or marinated in a vinaigrette, adding a tinge of tang to the taste but balancing out the richness of the beef perfectly.
The house-made shoestring fries were delightful with a nice balance of crisp and softness (I like my fries squeaky). For $35 and 300g of beef, this was a quite a good deal. 9/10
Iberico Pork Ribs
Grilled Iberico pork ribs, pumpkin puree for $30.
We had originally wanted to order the suckling pork leg, but unfortunately it was not available that day, hence we settled for the pork ribs instead.
Two whole intact ribs were served, which actually amounted to almost 3 separate ribs worth of meat.
The pork was expertedly grilled with a nice uniform crust on the exterior whilst the signature fattiness of Iberico pork ensured the meat to be juicy and tender.
What was more symbolic of the Iberico pork ribs was the subtle sweetness and fragrance of the pork flavour. There were no signs of the foul porky stench that one often encounters with poorly sourced pork.
The pumpkin puree was savoury and sweet at the same time, pairing beautifully with the Iberico pork ribs. Like the beef, this was also in my opinion a great dish at a very competitive price point. 9/10
And that was what we ate
I had initially feared that perhaps we didn’t ordered enough food to feed the four of us, including three grown men. Surprisingly, we were all sufficiently and to be honest, quite amply filled!
The bill came to about $60 per head, including a cocktail each, which was quite a fair price for this quality of food at this location, along with the level of service.
All in all, I was delighted to discover and dine at Pim Pam by FOC, and they are now my top choice for Spanish cuisine in Singapore.