[Disclosure: We were invited to dine at FOMO free of charge as part of a ‘date day’ promotion organised by Skydome. We weren’t asked to write a specific blog post on FOMO but thought it might be helpful]
Floral walls, cocktail trees and an indoor swing designed to tempt even the most staid of us to perch on it for a sultry Instagram snap would usually send me running for the hills. They’re more common than many of us would ever have predicted – or wanted – in bars and restaurants these days, and often don’t quite bring the joy they promise, especially when it comes to the food.
With that in mind, I’ll confess to having been slightly sceptical of how enjoyable dinner at FOMO in Coventry would be. One of the venues at the Skydome, which has been giving people memorable nights out (read into that what you will) for years, it opened to great fanfare last year.
Why wouldn’t it? Unlike some cities where new openings happen every five minutes and people often seem to be more keen to see them fail than succeed, in Coventry we have fewer venues and so appreciate each new ones that arrives. And while some might have been happy to put up with FOMO and miss out on FOMO, most of us were fairly up for a new venue doing something a bit different.
The opening night was a fun shindig of free cocktails and taster bites, but being slightly old and very uncool I’ll confess to not having been back until this visit just before Christmas. Early dinner on a Wednesday was a somewhat different atmosphere to a free launch night full of young trendsetters, and gave us time to take in the decor.
Yes, it’s very similar to most of the Instagrammable nightspots we’ve seen unveiled elsewhere in the past few years. Is it offensive? Far from it. It’s carefully divided into different areas to lend the feel of a restaurant, yet has enough space to turn into the party spot it also wants to be at the weekend.
The menu is described as Asian-inspired, which is pretty accurate. I’m glad they have the good grace to be upfront about the fact that while you can find pretty great, authentic cuisine from different parts of Asia elsewhere in Coventry, this is about giving a nod to those wonderful flavours but making sure the menu is accessible and easy for its audience.
The menu does what most places do these days, offering nibbles, small plates and mains in an effort to cater for everyone. Some dishes remind me of the comforting titles you see on the Chinese takeaway menu, no doubt pimped up so they look as pretty as their surroundings. Others are obviously English choices, with the smallest of nods to the East, making sure that even the least adventurous of diners can get stuck in.
We start with Gyozas which are pretty good. Slightly crispy on the outside with tasty fillings, and a dipping sauce that brings out the flavours of the dumplings themselves while adding a bit of umami that doesn’t just make you want more, but probably encourages you to take a good old swig of whatever you’re drinking.
I’ve had so many bad bao that I decide to avoid them and instead go for sticky Korean wings. They’re a safe option but a good option. Sticky, generous in size, well cooked with a slight crispness under the sauce, and while they might not rival the KFC over at Jinseon Korean barbecue, they’re still pretty good.
My main course is red pork belly skewers. I think the red might be a reference to the heat, which brings a gentle tingle on the tongue then backs away from any burn. They’re chunky cubes of pork belly and the right proportion of yielding meat and fat that moves from crispy on the outside to melt in the mouth underneath.
They won’t be for everyone. Pork belly never is. But for a lover of all things meat and fat, I think they’re well executed.
Jamie is tempted by one of several steaks on the menu, but decides (with no prompting from me) that he should be more adventurous. I’m not sure why – the steak is apparently soy-aged so I would have been interested to see how that changes the flavour. If he’s not having that, my hopes are on the 10oz Chinese pork tomahawk on the menu, but apparently 2022 saw me have my own way too often, so that’s off the cards too.
He settles on pan fried monkfish with bok choi, spring onion, ginger and pea shoots. The monkfish is cooked pretty well, and you can’t really go wrong with flavours like spring onion and ginger. They add dimension without distracting from the fish, and it makes for a light, fresh and tasty meal. Is it the best monkfish dish I’ve ever had? No it’s not. But is it better than I think it was going to be? Indeed it is.
We order sides of egg fried rice and pan-fried greens. The first is nothing to write home about, but fine for soaking up a few drinks. The greens are pretty good, laced with garlic, ginger and chilli and manage not to teeter over the edge of being overcooked.
It’s not a bad meal at all food-wise. And coupled with some very attentive service and a venue that I’m sure would have had a bit more atmosphere had we come an hour or so later, it has the potential to be even more enjoyable.
As ever with these things, this is about the whole picture. FOMO has taken up residence in a city where it’s never going to be able to compete with some brilliant restaurants showcasing cuisine from Cantonese to Japanese, Korean and more.
But it’s not trying to. Instead, it’s trying to do something a little bit different well to feed and water people, while also creating a nightspot that you can’t get anywhere else in Coventry. And when it comes to this, it does a pretty good job.
Go for the food alone, and you might be disappointed if you’re expecting authentic Asian cuisine. But go for the fun – of which the food is an enjoyable part – and you’ll probably have a good night out.