The first thing that struck me as I entered Food République was the simple, straight forward, unpretentious decor, which I liked. It was very cosy, informal and inviting - made me comfortable instantly.
The boss Benjamin (or Ben for short) who had been in the F and B line for over ten years working in big name Western food restaurants, launched Food République nearly three years ago. Ben is very passionate and particular about the food Food République serves, and so does the cooking himself, assisted by two kitchen helpers.
Ben graciously allowed me into his kitchen to photograph him in action. Ben is clearly passionate about his culinary art and was very meticulous in food preparation. The way Ben lovingly handled the food, I even got the feeling that Ben actually loves the pieces of food ingredients that he was preparing. I always love to watch passionate artists like Ben in action.
And, all these love gets reflected in the tastes and flavours in the food. Some foodies told me that without seeing the chef, they can tell his/ her personality and mood, just by tasting the food. I totally agree with this observation because I saw that today at Food République :)
All soups RM9.90
We started with creamy soups that were made from fresh ingredients. We had Chicken Clam Chowder and Real Mushroom Soups.
Ben then let us try two of his Italian appetisers - Bruschetta and fried Polenta. The traditional Italian Bruschetta appetiser (RM6.90) with toppings of chopped tomatoes, olives and herbs on crispy garlic toasts went very well with the creamy soups.
This was my first time trying fried Polenta (RM8.90). It was like nuggets made with ground corn (maize). The outer crust was crunchy while the inside was soft and creamy corn. The main flavour was salty and the Polenta was dipped in Food République's own blended chili sauce for an added tangy, spicy taste.
Who can resist this?!
First up was the Chargrilled Caramalized Burger (RM20.90). For a start, this burger does not even looked ordinary. This gourmet burger looked more like a piece of art meticulously made by Ben as compared to those mass produced assembly line buns and patties at those giant franchises.
Each patty individually seasoned according to customer's preferences
Ben talked lovingly to the patty a few times. Jokes aside, that's how closely Ben looked at the food.
Then Ben set the patty on fire
Melts and caramelises the cheese with a blow torch
I was cutting up the burger with fork and knife, and daintily eating the burger in separate little bits of patty, bun, lettuce, tomato and so on. Ben couldn't hold back any longer, watching his work of art desecrated in this way. Ben interrupted and said that the best (correct) way to eat a gourmet burger is to hold it up in both hands and bite a big mouthful containing the bun, juicy patty, lettuce, tomatoes and the other fillings. And, chew these all together. Only in this way can one truly savour the blend of tastes, flavours, and textures of the gourmet burger. I did as Ben said, and true enough, this was definitely one of the best burgers that I have ever tasted :)
The Pan Fried Milk Fish (RM23.90) was thick, tender, juicy and smooth with robust butter fragrance and taste. Kim was going "hmm..., hmm..., hmm..., good..., good..., good..." I didn't think I needed to ask her how she found this dish.
I don't really have a sweet tooth but Food République's Double Choc Fudge Brownie was simply awesome :)
The Fudge Brownie was dark, rich, warm, tender, soft, moist, smooth and not overly sweet. Softly chewing the warm juicy brownie with a scoop of cold sweet ice cream was a special pleasure, not to be missed.
As usual, if I like a restaurant, I'll be planning my next trip by peeking at the other customers' orders. If you ever see someone hopping over to a stranger's table and asking for permission to photograph their food, chances are, that's Johor Kaki.
I am coming back to Food République for these.
Ben told me that he also cooks off menu Western food for customers. So if you have a craving for a particular authentic Western food, give Food République a call (+607 331 1718) and speak with Ben about it.
See also this lovely post on Food République by Allison of Fondue of Life blog.
This Mandarin post on Food République by my friend Kim of Test and Share blog.
Restaurant name: Food République
Address: 72, Jalan Kuning, Taman Pelangi, Johor Bahru
Hours: 12:00 noon to 10:00pm
No pork, no lard
Date visited: 19 Oct 2012