I tagged along my wife and two of her girlfriends for a semi-girl’s night out. My choice of the venue that night was Foodbar DaDa, a new place for all of us, but with pretty good reviews so far. I loved eating tapas in London, but have yet to sample the popular ones in Singapore so far, so was quite keen to break my duck here.
In trendy Robertson Quay, Foodbar DaDa was quite small, but packed to the brim. We chose to sit inside as it had air conditioning, although being seated right opposite the Josper grill rather negated that. My experience so far with the Josper is mostly positive, particularly with Hawksmoor steakhouse which remains the best steak I’ve had.
The menu was really straightforward, with about 20 food items and a few dessert choices on one side, while drinks are on the other. The girls ordered a couple of cocktails, which received good reviews from them. While I was deliberating over choosing a red wine, the friendly hostess offered to let me sample a couple of wine, which seemed a really nice touch and I wish other places had this service.
For a complimentary amuse-bouche, we were all offered a spoon of tuna salad. It was not bad, but lacked any true sparkle.
“Scallop with bread crumbs, girolle and soy sauce”. Probably one of the most complex dishes we sampled, lightly grilled scallops was placed atop some bread crumbs, with a smattering of mushrooms, fish eggs and diced fresh spring onions. We were instructed to eat the entire spoon in one mouthful. The overall flavour combination was fantastic, with all the components having a part to play and was very well balanced.
“Baby squid with eggs”. Quite literally what it says on the tin, with a bit of garlic thrown in. Incredibly delicious, with the squid and eggs both cooked lightly. Would definitely order this every time I eat here.
“Grilled Octopus “a la gallega””. I remember trying this dish for the first time in some random café by the beach in Barcelona. Since then we’ve had mixed experiences with this dish, as some serve octopi more akin to rubber than food. This version was among the better ones, being tender yet retaining a bit of chewiness while the paprika added a nice sharp aroma.
“DaDa bravas”. A slightly more upmarket version of the simple patatas bravas, the potato was still light even after the roasting, with a creamy internal filling as well as a generous dollop of cream on top. Not bad, but not mind-blowing either. A little spicy tomato sauce would make it better.
“Spanish ham 5J with bread and tomato”. The 5J refers to a producer of jamón ibérico de bellota, which is a ham from black pigs fed on acorns. I find each producer of ham varies slightly, some saltier, sweeter, oilier. This particular type was quite well-rounded, with just the right level of salt and hammy essence. The tomato bread was a nice and delicate with a slight tart tinge, and a great pair to the ham.
“DaDa croquettes”. Very creamy with a few pieces of ham inside. Pretty good, but Barrafina’s still set the bar.
“Cod puffs”. Not mentioned on the menu, and I was enjoying the wine a bit too much to ask, but I presume the cod refers to bacalao, or salted cod, a common Spanish food item. I found this a little bit too salty for my tastes, but the creaminess, texture and taste otherwise is very good. If it was indeed salt cod, it could do with a bit more unsalting.
“Black Mediterranean rice”. Arroz negroz, or perhaps more commonly known as squid ink rice/paella, is a firm favourite of mine. The squid ink adds a distinct richness to the dish, and the version here does not disappoint in the least. Out of all the dishes we tried, this was the only one I chose to have second servings of.
“Saffron rice”. Meanwhile, this rather more simple rice dish was also tasty, but I simply didn’t find it as interesting as the squid ink version. A few pieces of seafood did try to make up for it.
“Duck burger with strawberry ketchup”. As it was too small to share between four people, we ordered two of these sliders. The duck patty was very tender and juicy, but didn’t really taste much of duck. Also, while it’s a thoughtful gesture to leave extra ketchup on a spoon on the side, I simply didn’t notice it till after I finished my share. Personally, I think I would have preferred a little bit more of the sour ketchup to add more flavour. In general, found this a bit lacking, and probably wouldn’t order it again.
“Josper beef 150gms”. Not sure what cut this was, but it seemed to lack sufficient marbling for my tastes. There was a nice char to it from the grill, and was decently salted, but sadly the beef was a bit lacking. just as a caveat, I admit I’m a bit spoilt by wagyu lately, but even non-wagyu beef can be excellent (i.e. Hawksmoor).
“Grilled seabass “a la donostiarra” 150gms”. Fresh fish, crispy skin, but a bit too plain for my tastes. This is purely for one to really taste the fish.
“DaDa pig trotter with porccini”. The trotter was almost hollowed out, with more fats left than meat. The skin was incredibly crispy, and the underlying fat had a very thick gelatinous feel to it. The PigPig absolutely loved this, particularly with the gooey collagen and mushrooms, but I preferred having more meat.
“Grilled foie-gras with marinated shitake & green apple”. The foie gras here was really very very good with just a bit of balsamic glaze and apple to give it a sweet and sour touch to combat the richness.
Altogether, the bill came up to approximately $110 each, including a $90 bottle of wine and two cocktails. We sampled nearly the entire menu, apart from the vegetarian options I simply didn’t particularly care for, so I’m willing to bet the price will be far lower for most other diners. Service was pretty good, with the servers still keeping a friendly smile even when things got busy.
I guess some people might not be particularly pleased at the prospect of seating at the bar counter, but to be honest that’s quite typical for a tapas BAR in Spain, so I appreciate the attempt to keep things authentic. The atmosphere inside was pretty buzzing, with a cocktail bar tucked in a corner, but it did feel a little warm. There are tables outside in the open air though.
Overall, the food was rather excellent. It’s been a good few years since I last had tapas in London, but this certainly rivals some of my favourite old haunts. Perhaps its not quite as jaw-droppingly awesome as San Sebastian, but I would definitely love to come back for more.
Best bit: the baby squid, scallops and black rice were all superb and are first on my list of things to eat the next time I go back.
Worst bit: tad cramped!
60 Robertson Quay
Tel: +65 6735 7738
Tue to Sat: 6pm – 11pm