Equal parts restaurant, bar, and gathering grounds
The Chinatown hotspot known as the FooJohn Building has developed slowly. You might recall Fou de Joie coming first. That’s the ground-floor restaurant—a futuristic amalgamation of a French bistro and filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai’s Hong Kong. Then a bar was opened on the second floor. It didn’t have a name yet, but it did have a concept: Savoy-inspired cocktails and jazz. A bar on the floor above it came next. Finally, after roughly nine months in business, a smokehouse called SpareParts launched on the roof.
If you’re counting at home, that totals four distinct venues within one building. They don’t all seem to mesh, either. (A classic French-Hong Kong smokehouse?) To the credit of the partners who put FooJohn together, the concept works much better than it sounds. Whether you’re stopping by for the music, or lingering a little longer over a plate of ribs, FooJohn has quickly joined the ranks of go-to destinations for night owls and creative types alike.
Much of the action revolves around the jazz bar. From the choice to hang heavy velour curtains to the subtle Art Deco touches left in place when the building was being renovated from its past life as a spare parts shop, it’s clear that a lot of attention went into the details. The lounge-like space makes for an ideal listening, not to mention drinking, experience.
You can still order Savoy classics, from the Sazerac (B340) to the Silver Fizz (B280), but it’s worthwhile to try one of the modern interpretations that make up the Signatures list, like the Lovable Corn (B260). Evan Williams Bourbon, Cointreau, and orgeat (almond syrup) blend with herbal Bénédictine and torched rosemary, resulting in a drink that’s smooth on the palate but remarkably complex, carrying hints of caramel and corn from the bourbon.
A staff favourite, the Leaf Dragon (B280) plays off the timeless flavours of tom yum. White rum serves as the base for Kaffir lime, galangal, and chili, as well as ginger syrup, which makes its presence felt before levelling out on the finish. If you don’t like ginger, pick a different drink. Or ask the bartender to serve you a spin on the classics. House infusions, including turmeric liqueur and various gins and vodkas laced with local spices, give a Negroni (B320) or an Old Fashioned (B280) a lively twist.
Whether you’re at Fou de Joie or the third-floor bar (fast evolving into a beer and bourbon joint), you can enjoy any menu FooJohn has to offer. That includes charcuterie boards (from B200) and cuts from SpareParts, a project by the folks behind the Deli-Q food truck. The smell of slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork, and burnt ends (from B420) permeates the building. Go ahead: indulge! Like FooJohn itself, these spare parts add up to one irresistible product.
By Craig Sauers
831 Charoen Krung Rd, Soi 31
Tel: 085 527 3511
Open: Wed-Sun, 7pm-midnight