Sip a glass of Fura’s drinks, and you’ll be tempted to think it’s just a perfectly-crafted cocktail in a posh Singapore bar. Its simple design conceals several intriguing ingredients.
The martini doesn’t have olives as its main ingredient; however, jellyfish and oil are made from seaweed. Another drink is said to highlight caviar, but instead of the prized roe, it’s tiny pieces of black garlic.
The most popular beverage is margarita, which stirring-fried mealworms have made.
The twists don’t have excitement. The 60-seat Fura opening of its doors in September is the newest attempt in one of the most competitive areas of the drinking industry.
Food and beverage chef Christina Rasmussen (right) and Sasha Wijidessa, Asia commercial director of Empirical Spirits, the Danish spirits distillery Empirical, are the duo responsible for Fura located in Singapore.
It combines chic sus, trainability, and fashion, all while trying to remain profitable in Singapore, which is where the cost for everything, from raw materials to labor, has been rising in recent times.
And to top it all off to top it off, another of the eminent elements planned for the menu – insects aren’t even legal as food in the United States as of yet.
This challenge is being taken on by two couples, Christina Rasmussen and Sasha Wijidessa. They are both younger than thirty and who have established a name for themselves in the world of hospitality.
How do you combat the “yuck” issue of eating bugs? Put the insects in dough pizzas.
Rasmussen was chef forager of Noma, a three Michelin-starred restaurant located in Copenhagen. Wijidessa serves as the Asia commercial director at Empirical, the Danish distillery of spirits Empirical, which is becoming international in recognition for its unique alcohol blends.
The menu, which they describe as “a journal of future food,” will attract an upcoming generation of environmentally conscious drinkers and eaters.
Cocktails start at just S$24 (US$18), With names cheeky and a small amount of traditional flavors.
The Fura Caviar Papi cocktail features a faux caviar version that offers a smoky flavor and a creamy texture.
A drink called the Caviar Papi, conceived to make fun of people who eat too much, has an imitation of the delicacy, which gives this drink an enticing garlic flavor and a smooth texture.
The jellyfish martini is an eminent fishy flavor and notes of gin and salty seawater.
“We are very specifically not trying to have any cultural cuisine tied to us,” Wijidessa declares.
Fura, meaning “pine” in Swedish, was designed to place sustainability first, according to her.
“We want to create a new ritual of eating and drinking that makes sense for now and in the future, because our resources are different now.”
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The beans themselves were not even considered as a component within one of their drinks due to concerns about the use of water during the cultivation. Instead, the pair chose an alternative to “espresso” made from malt grains.
Sustainability while maintaining the variety required to make a unique menu is a challenge in an equatorial city-state that is less in comparison to New York City. Singapore imports more than 90 percent of its food and does not have the climate for cultivating exotic vegetables.
Fura has been looking for local sources of food. A hydroponic farm in Singapore provides the majority of its vegetables – but it does not appear to be easy. Locally grown tomatoes aren’t well, so they’re fermented lacto for a few days using MSG before being included in a drink called Make Local Tomatoes Great Again.
Singapore is a relatively young country with an extremely large population that is willing to adapt. Therefore, I am hoping that it will grow and become commonplace.
Sasha Wijidessa on people consuming insect protein
The final test, however, is the creatures with multiple legs that are scheduled as the main course.
Consuming insects is not uncommon across Southeast Asia, but their consumption in Singapore is still prohibited. Authorities are expected to approve 16 insect species by the end of the year. (Fura’s insect-related products are not yet available for sale and are available in previews.)
The decision to approve them will likely be accompanied by a few restrictions, such as wild-harvested insects will not be permitted, and hazard assessments will be required.
This is before one is able to see the big elephant that is in the space. In 2022, during an open consultation that sought responses, some people said they “felt disgust” at the idea of eating insects.
The founders of Fura haven’t been able to stop them. In anticipation of approval from the government, the company has sourced creatures like mealworms and grasshoppers from farms in Thailand and has perfected its beverages and dishes that showcase their presence.
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In a recent preview tasting, insects were largely concealed from view.
There was no hint of the crickets that were minced in the Peas in Threes vegetable dish and were mingling with other crunchy, salty components of a sweet-tasting nutty garnish.
For the Get the Worm cocktail, just a slight yellowish tint and earthy taste signal the presence of mealworms in the fiery margarita that is tart and tangy.
It’s possible to find “different ways of manipulating it where you’re not staring at bugs in the eye”, Rasmussen says, so that it’s “familiar and tasty to most people.”
A separate tasting menu is being planned that will put insects in the center for adventurous eaters.
“Insect protein is something that we really want to work with because we think that’s kind of the next step,” Wijidessa states.
“Singapore is a very young nation where you have a very big population that is open to change, so I am hopeful that it would pick up and become the norm.”
There’s no room for errors. Fura joins a crowded party scene that has grown rapidly in the past few years.
New additions include cozy places to eat, like speakeasy-style bars such as Night Hawk, and extravagant venues such as Atlas Bar, which has more than 1,300 varieties of gin, housed in a towering display and was featured in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, which is part of the brand 50 Best.
Just across the street across the street from Fura across the street from Fura is Native. The bar was opened in the year 2016 and showcased regional products. It was also featured on last year’s Asian’s Best 50 List of Bars. Nearly a fifth of the list was from Singapore.