In a culinary journey deeply rooted in family tradition and innovation, Ryan and Keenan Tham, Co-Founders of Pebble Street Hospitality, have transformed Asian cuisine in India through their renowned brands, Foo and Koko.
- Can you share with us the story behind the inception of Foo & Koko and how it has evolved into a well-known Asian cuisine brand in India?
Having grown up observing our father and grandfather’s remarkable success in owning and managing renowned restaurants like Mandarin and Kamling, we embarked on a journey to uphold our family’s rich legacy. After completing our education in Australia, we returned to Mumbai with a firm determination to enter the industry and continue the family tradition. We began our professional journey with Henry Tham’s, a popular resto-bar in Colaba, and later Trilogy, an extravagant nightclub in Juhu.
In 2014, we pivoted back to our food business and started creating our own F&B portfolio, which led to the launch of Pebble Street Hospitality. Our first big milestone came with The Good Wife, a modern European gastropub located in Mumbai’s bustling business district, BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex). However, we always kept an eye on changing dining trends and the rise of Asian cuisine in India.
In 2016, we introduced KOKO at Kamala Mills, recognizing the growing demand for premium Asian cuisine. Building on the success of KOKO and staying ahead of the curve, we launched Foo in 2018. Foo was a game-changer, reimagining the dining experience with Asian tapas-style dishes. Our journey continued with the expansion of Foo outlets, adapting to different neighbourhoods and preferences. Currently, we have 7 outlets of Foo in Mumbai, 1 in Bangalore, and 1 in Ahmedabad, with others in the pipeline. KOKO is also opening its first outlet in Bangalore very soon
- What sets Foo & Koko apart from other Asian cuisine restaurants in India? Could you tell us about any unique or signature dishes that are exclusive to your brand?
Foo & KOKO are not traditional Asian cuisine restaurants in India; we take immense pride in what sets us apart. Our uniqueness lies in the fusion of flavours, innovative recipes, and a commitment to providing exceptional dining experiences to our patrons. We blend traditional Asian flavours with modern culinary techniques to create dishes that are both familiar and excitingly new. Our chefs are constantly experimenting, resulting in a menu that offers surprises with every visit.
At Foo & KOKO, we also have an exceptional range of signature cocktails that perfectly complement our dishes. From classic Asian-inspired drinks to innovative concoctions, our bar menu adds an extra layer of uniqueness to the dining experience.
Our exclusive dishes cater to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, ensuring there is something special for everyone. These are meticulously crafted by our chefs and are a testament to our dedication to culinary excellence. We believe that hospitality goes beyond serving great food. Our staff is trained to provide warm and attentive service, making sure every visit is memorable.
Foo blue butter Japanese fried rice is one of our signature dishes. We’ve taken the classic fried rice concept and elevated it to a whole new level by infusing it with blue pea flower, which gives it its rich blue hue. For those who crave bold and intricate flavours, our wasabi, truffle, and edamame dumplings are a must-try. This vegetarian dish combines the subtle but fiery kick of wasabi, the earthy richness of truffle, and the fresh vibrancy of edamame. These exclusive dishes represent the fusion of Asian flavours with contemporary twists, which is the hallmark of Foo.
At KOKO, one can’t miss out on our Hamachi Carpaccio, which is thinly sliced and presented in a beautiful way, and the best-selling sushi, the KOKO Signature Roll with avocado, tempura asparagus, crisps, and KOKO sauce, which has a fan base of its own!
- Have you faced any challenges in adapting traditional Asian flavors to suit the Indian palate?
Adapting traditional Asian flavours to suit the Indian palate hasn’t been very challenging, as Indians love flavorful food. Since Foo & KOKO are contemporary restaurants, our dishes are modern in the way they are presented and hence quite appealing to the Indian audience since quite a few of our dishes are spicy as well as flavorful.
While Indian cuisine is known for its bold and spicy flavours, many Asian dishes are milder in spice in comparison, as they use ingredients that are more about the flavour than the spice quotient. Striking the perfect level of spiciness in our Asian dishes to cater to Indian preferences was a delicate task, but we found that harmony quite easily.
India has a significant vegetarian population, and catering to their preferences was a must. We had to develop a diverse and appealing range of vegetarian dishes that could stand alongside our non-vegetarian offerings. Our exclusive vegetarian creations and unique recipes have been a way to meet this demand. Adapting traditional Asian flavours to suit the Indian palate has been a rewarding journey marked by creativity, adaptability, and a deep understanding of both culinary traditions.