Co-Owner Christian Tan and Culinary Director Jason Jones take us through the siesta of their Mexican cuisine – a terrifically fresh, light and modern experience for the senses.
A perfect slice of paradise would involve the following: a great surf-break beach filled with the wafting aroma of Mexican food sizzling in taco trucks. The sun must be shining hot, the salt in the sea breeze palpable, and an abundance of good spirits all around. Weekenders gleefully tuck into their tlayuda and tortillas y sopes, and the collective mood blissfully drugged.
In short, we love our Mexican street food.
The Loco Group’s co-owner Christian Tan completely gets us. Together with two other founders, he set about creating Mexican restaurant & bars in Singapore inspired by the casually festive and fun culture they experienced in Mexico during their own travels. Today, the group’s three restaurants serve up nosh so good, Mexico can truly wait.
As a wise saying goes: if you can’t bring José to the beaches, then bring the beaches to José. Did we invent this? Maybe. But Christian, joined by celebrity chef Jason Jones, tells us how they certainly aren’t messing around when it comes to good Mexican food.
D: What drives you to achieve success?
Christian: It really is about the whole journey – from getting inspiration for a concept to conceptualising a space with designers and finding an amazing venue. Seeing everything come together and walking into a packed restaurant where all your customers are enjoying themselves is one of the biggest drivers anyone can have to succeed.
D: Please share more about your affinity with Mexican food.
Jason: I was first acquainted with real Mexican cooking on a visit to Mexico in 2008. While I ate at many restaurants, what left the biggest impression on me was a street-side taco stall located in a back alley. All the tortillas were being made on the spot, topped with minced meat and herbs. It was sensational.
Through the years, I observed and learned from Mexican friends and locals who were kind enough to invite me into their kitchens on my holidays to Mexico. Mexican food is fun, casual and tactile. It’s all about using your hands, sharing tacos and making a mess!
Pescado Asada Con Chili Rojo Y Perijil
D: What goes into creating innovative, modern, and tasty Mexican food?
J: We source several of our ingredients directly from Mexico, such as the achiote, cactus fruit, Cotija cheese, maseca harina and tomatillos. Our menus are adapted to suit local palates so while we present authentic Mexican flavours and ingredients on a plate, it is a fresher and lighter approach compared to the more heavily sauced staples in Mexico.
The tlayuda, for instance, is a typical Mexican street food snack served with a host of toppings in Mexico but our version is modernised with a black bean hummus instead of a traditional black bean garlic puree.
We add shaved air-dried wagyu, queso Oaxaca (a fresh, milky cheese), a salad of watercress, red onion, and lime dressing which freshens and lightens what can often be a very heavy dish.
The flavours and types of dishes are authentic – tostadas, ceviches, tacos, though the cooking techniques, food combinations and presentations have our own small touches that make them more modern and creative.
“Seeing everything come together and walking into a packed restaurant where all your customers are enjoying themselves is one of the biggest drivers anyone can have to succeed.”
D: Christian, you have created a few iconic dining experiences in Singapore. What’s next?
C: We’re expanding regionally. The dining scene in Asia Pacific is definitely thriving, especially in places with a growing middle class such as Indonesia – we are getting ready to launch Super Loco in Jakarta, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and China.
Our first Super Loco outlet in Jakarta opened at the beginning of 2017 at Pacific Place shopping mall. It is a 100-seater venue that has some exclusive menu items with local spices and ingredients to suit Indonesian diners’ palates. We’re also looking to expand in North Asia in 2018.
Images by The Loco Group
Super Loco is located at The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay, #01-13 Singapore 238252. Find them on Facebook.