With a steady stream of quality Spanish restaurants slowly but surely making a deep impression in the Hong Kong dining scene, a night of wine and tapas has pretty much shot to the top of my list for an enjoyable night out when I’m craving good food and company without the stuffy atmosphere of French fine dining or the meticulous portions of high-end sushi bars.
I’m a big fan of the El Willy outpost in Shanghai, and therefore was beyond excited to try FoFo by El Willy, Chef Willy Trullas Moreno’s foray into Hong Kong which opened back in 2010. It’s taken me a few trips around the HK culinary circuit to get to FoFo, and after the memorable evening of delicious tapas, Spanish specialty dishes, and refreshing cocktails we had, I’m kind of kicking myself a bit for not making it there earlier!
For starters, the restaurant is an unexpectedly beautiful and inviting space above the hustle and bustle of central Wellington Street. I fell in love with the decor immediately, with a bright and fun dining room that nonetheless sets a romantic tone for the night.
If you’re one who loves poring over menus with plenty of options to customise your dining experience, you’ll have a field day with FoFo’s extensive offerings. I can usually order pretty quickly, but at FoFo every tapas dish sounded mouthwatering, and it was almost impossible to choose just a few (yes I plan on going back several more times until I’ve eaten my way through the menu!).
Luckily, the first few pages are small plates for sharing and individual bites that can be ordered by the piece, so we were able to sample quite a few of these delicious bites. Spanish cuisine never fails to impress me with its breadth and depth of flavours, and the versatility of ingredients and careful preparation really shines through at FoFo.
We started off our meal with this insanely good platter of FoFo’s signature 30-month aged Spanish iberico ham, paired with crispy crystal tomato bread. I don’t really know what they do to get the ham this succulent, but I would happily feast on this for my last meal…
Next up, we were treated to a few delicious tapas, including my favourite, the Explosive Smoked Salmon Air Bag with Sour Cream & Spring Onion. Topped with a small slab of smoked salmon, these airy bags are bursting with truffle-infused sour cream, making for a veritable ‘explosion’ in your mouth of truffle aroma, smooth sour cream and fresh seafood. Amazing!
Although not the most complex dish, I can’t resist a truffle bikini sandwich when I see it on a menu, and these ones definitely hit the spot with the iberico ham bumping up the usual truffle-cheese combo. The Spanish Anchovies with Olive Pol Parsley and Tomato Bread was also a vibrant flavour bomb, whisking me off to Barcelona in one mouthwatering bite.
Digging into the larger shared plates, the bags of flavour kept flowing with a plate of Mixed Asparagus with Boiled Egg and Arugula, and Scallop Ceviche with Avocado and Crispy Shallots. The greens were fresh and crisp, and the scallops wonderfully tender with the right balance of acidity and sweetness – not to mention the stunning presentation of the ceviche.
If I had to pick a least favourite dish, it would have to be the Spanish Cod Fish with Catalan Style Stew Vegetables. Although the fish was flaky and tender, the tomato-based veggie stew didn’t present the same vibrancy and brightness of the other dishes, and was a bit dull after the parade of gorgeous dishes preceding it.
However, we were back on track with the Crispy Suckling Pig with Baby Confit Potatoes, a FoFo specialty and for good reason. The crispy crackling gave way to tender and flavourful slow-cooked pork, with a layer of confit potatoes making this the most filling dish of the bunch.
Finally, we ended our meal with a half portion of the Black Rice with Squid and Green Peas. If it wasn’t for my bulging waistline, I would’ve scooped up every last bite, as this was definitely one of my favourite bites of the night. I’m a sucker for squid-ink pasta or rice, and you could tell the flavour really had had time to infuse into the rice, with the tender squid rings adding a meaty bite to the dish.
FoFo by El Willy isn’t the cheapest dinner you’ll have in Hong Kong, but for the exciting flavours, attentive preparation and sheer number of choices available, it’s definitely worth the few extra bucks. Tapas plates range from $100-200 mostly (except for individual bites like the Smoked Salmon Air Bag, which are about $30 / piece), while the meatier mains can run up to $380. The rice dishes – which shouldn’t be missed – are about $250 for a half portion, enough to feed 2-3 people with other dishes to share.
Of course, you’ll need something to wash down the tapas with, and the drinks at FoFo are not to be missed, encompassing Spanish-style cocktails, sangria and a variety of regional wines. I loved the playful twist on a classic cocktail with the “Spanish G&T”, comprising a refreshing mix of London No. 1 Gin, Chambord, tonic, strawberries and juniper berries. FoFo also offers three different types of Sangria – red, white and pink – at $420 a jar.
With warm and friendly service, a lively atmosphere and a flavour-packed menu, FoFo is a sure bet when you’re craving Spanish cuisine in the heart of Central.
Opening Hours: Daily for lunch from 12-2:30pm and dinner from 6:30-11pm.
FoFo by el Willy, 20/F, M88, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2900 2009, [email protected]