Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


Leave a comment

Classy Catalunya

It has taken a while to sample a taste at Catalunya, but now I understand why this restaurant took Hong Kong by storm at its opening early last year. Serving contemporary Spanish cuisine and headed by an impressive team of culinary experts from restaurants such as el Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca and Arzak, Catalunya has garnered high praise from many a foodie and celebs flock there to dine on Catalan inspired dishes in the confines of the private dining room (via the VIP back entrance of course).

Tree-lined Oi Kwan Road with its schools, hospital and swimming pool is an unlikely location for such a restaurant, but the quiet environment is appealing and adds charm to Catalunya. The grand interior is decorated with Spanish-inspired elements and decked out in mahogany and warm red hues and sits 140, the private dining room 16.Catalunya Catalunya Catalunya

Rach and I were nestled in a booth in the main dining room and had a good view of the comings and goings, including the dishes that were heading our way.

The menu is varied, with a large selection of seafood and meat, but everyone’s eye is on the tapas. We began with the excellent Travelling Oysters, so called because the oysters feature flavours from a different country every week. We had Gillardeau oysters dressed with a Japanese sauce of ponzu and ikura.Catalunya

Travelling Oysters

Travelling Oysters

The thinly sliced 48-month Jamón Ibérico was not too salty and had a lovely nutty flavour. This was a great accompaniment to the Pa Amb Tomàquet, a traditional Catalan toasted bread topped with a tomato ‘’De Penjar” spread and a dash of olive oil, which salt lovers will also enjoy with the moreish Cantabrian Anchovies.

48-month Jamón Ibérico

48-month Jamón Ibérico

Pa Amb Tomàquet

Pa Amb Tomàquet

Cantabrian Anchovies

Cantabrian Anchovies

The Catalunya Tomato Tartar, an elBulli dish, is unusual as it is completely made out of tomatoes but resembles a steak tartar in appearance. The ‘tartar’ had layers of rich tomato flavours and I was impressed by the meatiness of the texture.

Catalunya Tomato Tartar

Catalunya Tomato Tartar

The most enticing dish had to be The Bikini, a downright sinful and luxurious sandwich filled with Iberian ham, mozzarella cheese and truffle. The truffle smell hits you first and breathing and tasting it at once can be a little heady, or perhaps it was just the sheer delight of scoffing it.

The Bikini

The Bikini

My litmus test at any Spanish restaurant is their Tortilla, and Catalunya’s Tortilla De Trampo got my seal of approval. Their Catalan version made from potato, onions, eggs and red sausage was slightly wetter than others I have had before but was thick and velvety especially smothered with their allioli sauce.

Tortilla de Trampo

Tortilla de Trampo

Other favourite dishes were the Bombas De La Barceloneta- pork and beef meatballs covered in potato puree then breaded and deep fried, and the Octopus A Feira, a creamy combination of potato foam, octopus and grilled pork belly. The Green Peas with Blood Sausage may be slightly less palatable for some depending on your penchant for both ingredients, but the green peas were fresh and the sausage had an intense earthy taste.

Bombas De La Barceloneta

Bombas De La Barceloneta

Octopus A Feira

Octopus A Feira

Peas with Blood Sausage

Peas with Blood Sausage

 Of the desserts we sampled, I enjoyed the Torrija the most. This simple pudding of brioche bread soaked in vanilla milk and then pan-fried was decadent and I was intrigued by the smoked ice-cream. The Chocolate in Different Textures with Passion Fruit felt short of my expectations and was too sweet for me to have more than a couple of bites. The Catalunya Fruit Salad was definitely an interesting finish, with fruits infused with different flavours, such as Watermelon infused with Sangria.

Torrija

Torrija

 Chocolate in Different Textures with Passion Fruit

Chocolate in Different Textures with Passion Fruit

Catalunya Fruit Salad

Catalunya Fruit Salad

Catalunya is by no means cheap, (to eat well costs around $500-600 a head), but if you are seeking a near authentic Catalan gastronomic experience without funding the air ticket to go to Spain, then it is worth it for the high quality ingredients and careful execution.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

$$$$$-$$$$$$$$$$

Catalunya, G/F Guardian House, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai  +852 2866 7900

http://www.catalunya.hk

This review can also be seen at Sassy Hong Kong. This lunch was by kind invite. 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Aberdeen Street Ascension

It doesn’t take a genius to work out where this latest restaurant is. It does however, take some sturdy thigh muscles to trek up this street to reach it, a street which usually induces a wrinkling of my nose whenever I need to walk up it. However, for the love of a pretty outdoor terrace, cool decor, (think gigantic bottles of tequila- fake unfortunately, and contemporary art) and a chance to eat away from the madding crowd, Aberdeen Street could become a few people’s new favourite haunt.

Aberdeen Street

Aberdeen Street

 By kind invitation, my friend and I went to check it out one evening a couple of weeks back and after sweating like a pig from our mini-hike, declined the offer to sit on the terrace for fear of ending up like a puddle, reminiscent of Senator Kelly in the first X-men film *geek moment*. After taking up a table near the front, we got a good look at the sweet, compact space decked out in sea blue and tan hues. A bar area and the giant tequila bottles are the decorative features and creates a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.IMG_7347 IMG_7331 IMG_7333

The menu is quite extensive and has a good selection of starters, salads, meats and sharing plates. Croquettes are always so enticing, probably because they are so easy to eat and pop-in-your-mouth parcels of fun when done well, and their Vegetarian croquettes of rice balls with carrots and mushrooms were a tasty start. Up next were a dozen Australian oysters which were fresh, fleshy and filling but I would say go easy on the oysters and get a half dozen if you intend to eat more and there’s only two of you!

Vegetarian croquettes

Vegetarian croquettes

Australian oysters

Australian oysters

Aberdeen Street highly recommends their monster Soho salads which are all quaintly named after various streets in Soho. The Old Bailey Street salad intrigued us with its various ingredients- chilli prawn, red and green peppers, Feta cheese, cucumber, watermelon and lettuce. It was crisp, light and our chosen dressing, the ‘Aberdeen Street’ vinaigrette did not drown out the refreshing watermelon.

Old Bailey Street salad

Old Bailey Street salad

The Meat Touch was quite the show-stopper and definitely encourages parties to embrace the ‘Sharing Spirit’ that it is labelled under on the menu. Grilled back ribs, mini beef burgers made with grilled steak tartare, foie gras rècme brûlée, cornichons, pate de campagne, cold cuts and sauteed potatoes fill the eyes before the stomach. The ribs were disappointing, overly grilled and so were tough to pull apart from the bone. The mini burgers were rather nice, but I wasn’t sure about the patties being made from steak tartare specifically, as I couldn’t tell the difference between that and a normal patty. The foie gras creme brulee was smooth and delicious with cornichons and the extremely moreish potatoes.IMG_7358 IMG_7359

The Meat Touch

The Meat Touch

IMG_7357

To end we had their vanilla Crème brûlée which would have been good if it weren’t for the too charred caramelised sugar on top which left half of my mouthfuls with a burnt aftertaste. The custard itself was pleasantly sweet but this could have been executed far better.

Crème brûlée

Crème brûlée

Aberdeen Street has good service, the manager Morgan, is attentive and helpful and as mentioned, the ambience is laid-back and chilled. There is also a good brunch offering on the weekends with free-flow booze from 12pm to 3pm ($348), eggs done any way you like and ‘Total Recovery’ dishes for those hangovers. The food was a bit hit and miss, but I do think that with time this could become something worth making a visit to, even with that bloody steep climb.

 Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

$$-$$$$$$$$$$

Aberdeen Street, UG/F King Ho Building, 41-49 Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2546 5833. contact@aberdeenstreet.com.hk

This was by kind invitation- thank you Aberdeen Street for having us!