Time for tapas @ Catalunya HK

Date: 21 May 2013

Weather: Dark, stormy and feels eerie like Armageddon

Address:

G/F Guardian House Morrison Hill, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Cuisine: modern Spanish
Recommendation:

Bombas

Iberico croquette

Lamb shoulder

Lobster rice

Spherical olives

Avocado and lobster roll

Ham, Cheese and Truffle “Bikini”

Average price range:

starter – HKD 100-160

main – HKD 300-995

dessert HKD 70-95

sides HKD 60-95

cocktail HKD 150

Thanks to my awesome friend, we managed to secure a table for 2 on a Saturday night at an extremely short notice. I was definitely excited to try this place, I mean it’s kind of hard not to be since there is a star studded panel of culinary experts behind Catalunya HK. AND of course, I am a big fan of Catalunya Singapore, the sister restaurant.

So when we finally arrived at our destination, I was pleasantly greeted by a charming corner restaurant, nestled within the quiet residential neighborhood of Morrison Hill, emanating soft glows from its windows. Stepping through the doors of Catalunya was like stepping into a world quite different from its peaceful surroundings I was transposed into an atmosphere overflowing with vibrancy and vitality. I was all ready to eat!

Coriander scent

Stairway to Heaven

OK, not quite yet as our table had to be prepared. So I propped myself up on the (super tall) bar stool (while desperately trying to look elegant) and ordered myself the award winning cocktail STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. Even the name sounded nice! And aesthetic-wise, it was pretty “heaven-like”. The idea was to let the coriander scented fog engulf my senses as I sipped on the refreshing concoction of celery, pineapple puree, coriander leaves, lime juice, vanilla syrup, Bacardi Rum, and a dash of egg white. A perfect start to the evening.

NOW THE MOST IMPORTANT PART THE FOOD

Catalunya Tomato Tartar

This unique dish consisted of minced herb seasoned tomatoes (which resembled some kind of meat stew) and foam. Eaten together with the thin slices of bread crisps, every bite was crunchy, flavorful and rich. No idea what was the actual purpose of the foam, but assuming it’s for purely aesthetic reasons, I felt the dish was a little disconnected in its presentation. Not my favorite tapas but worth a try if tomatoes are your thing.

Patatas Bravas with “All I Oli”

“All I oli” means “garlic and oil” in Catalan. So you have it potato pieces that are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, served with drizzles of garlic infused creamy sauce and spicy tomato sauce. Mmmmm. Yummy.

Estrellados “Paletilla”

Paletilla (or paleta) means shoulder ham and is also the front legs of the pig. This dish was an assembly of scrambled eggs on a bed of potatoes (done the same as Patatas Bravas except without the sauces) and topped with slices of paletilla. I felt that the overall dish was a little on the dry side, the marriage of the different components failed to take the dish to the next level.

Personally, I wished the dish came with slow cooked eggs instead imagine, runny yolks and creamy whites coating the crispy golden potatoes and slices of paletilla to add that little extra flavor to the dish.

Ham, Cheese and Truffle “Bikini”

Do you know that a bikini is a style of toasted ham and cheese sandwich in Spain, in particular Barcelona and Catalonia? This decadent sandwich was quite a sensory delight. I was welcomed by the butter-truffle scent emanating from the warm toasted sandwich and the rich flavors of the cheese and ham combination. A tiny bit on the salty side for me, but it’s hard to fault anything with truffle in it.

Jamon Iberico Croquette

4 very unassuming pieces of deep fried goodness. One of my favorite tapas! The breadcrumb coating was light, crispy and not too oily and the inside was a silky, creamy filling with pieces of Iberico ham. It was a perfectly constructed croquette if you ask me.

Bombas from “Barceloneta”

A must-order every bite of these golden crumbed meatballs is a pure delight on the palette they were bursting with flavors from the succulent meat silky mash combo. AMAZING. Served with a dollop of all i oli and bravas sauce for that extra dimension to the taste.

Lamb Shoulder

I was actually looking forward to ordering the suckling pig since I have nothing but very fond memories of the pig I had in Catalunya Singapore. Unfortunately the portion would have been a little too overwhelming for just the 2 of us. Hence we decided to try the lamb shoulder. NO REGRETS ladies and gentlemen. Tender, juicy, not too gamey and packed with the right amount of flavors a lovely lamb affair.

Lobster Rice

Another must-order dish. How should I describe it? Delicate, decadent, delicious. Every grain of rice was plump and inviting and well coated with the sweetness of the shellfish broth. Served in a small cast iron pot and topped with 2 pieces of lobster tail halves, it was a pretty sight and definitely pleased my palette.

Dessert “Torrija” and Chocolate

Of the 2, I definitely prefer “Torrija” which is sweet bread served warm with smoked milk ice cream and drizzles of citrus sauce. Chocolate was pretty standard so I’m not going to bore you with the details.

VISIT NO. 2

Yup, I decided there were still dishes that i really wanted to try and so we went back for round 2 in a short span of less than a month. #iamsuchaglut

SPHERICAL OLIVES

I was never quite a fan of olives until recently. Perhaps I had finally acquired the taste. Having read about the molecular background of Catalunya’s spherical olives, I had to order it HOW CAN I NOT? Catalunya Alain Devahive Tolosa – protégé – Ferran Adria – El Bulli – molecular gastronomy – best restaurant in the world you get the gist.

So, back to the spherical olive – it was a magical globule of olive juice which looked very much like an olive itself, except that it wasn’t but through some savvy scientific process, it managed to strike an uncanny resemblance. The taste, texture, experience and novelty of this dish makes it a must-try for olive lovers.

COD FRITTERS

To be honest, this dish didn’t deliver for me. It was on the heavy side and the flavours were forgettable.

WHITE ASPARAGUS

A simple dish that was aesthetically appealing and pleasant on the palate. It provided a soothing balance to all the other immensely flavorful dishes.

AVOCADO AND LOBSTER ROLL

I loved the way the avocado and lobster roll was assembled! A very cheerful looking dish that made me excited about its taste. Fortunately, expectations were very well met – the texture and combination of flavors qualified this dish to my “reorder on the next visit” list.

CLAMS “A LA BASCA”

Nothing too fancy here but I would definitely say it was a very satisfying bowl of fresh juicy clams. If you love your clams, you won’t regret ordering this.

TRADITIONAL SUCKLING PIG “SEGOVIAN STYLE”

FINALLY, i get to lay my hands on the suckling pig! As per tradition, a porcelain plate was used to chop the pig into serving sizes but instead of smashing the plate in front of us, the waitress said they will do it outside. From whatever information i could gather on the web about this Spanish tradition (which was seriously not much at all), the act of smashing the plate is meant to symbolize getting rid of bad luck. Hmmmm…. but I’m still unclear about the relevance to the suckling pig can anyone enlighten me?

Anyway, about the pig, it was undoubtedly very juicy and tender but I thought they went a little overboard with the rosemary. It overpowered the natural flavors of the suckling pig. Not sure if it’s an expectation issue but I felt that the suckling pig I had in Catalunya Singapore was a better version.

But having said that, if you have painstakingly made your way to Catalunya, you should order the pig and try it for yourself. It fell short of my expectations but it’s really not bad.

Overall

Food is above average. Decor is traditional in a contemporary way, its interior is elaborate without being archaic. A very nice lively vibe to the place. Service staff both at the bar and in the main dining area were extremely friendly, I couldn’t ask for more.

Another of my fav drink - Mystery backyard. They light it up for you, pretty cool!

Another of my fav drink – Mystery backyard. They light it up for you, pretty cool!

Do check this place out and let me know what you think!

Food 8.5/10

Service 9/10

Ambience 8.5/10

OVERALL SCORE 8.7/10

UPDATE: Can’t speak for myself but had a few close friends who went to Catalunya recently (October) and were very disappointed with the service, or rather the lack of. Did you also experience the same?

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