City Sees Renewed Influx Of Spanish Eateries
Considering its reputation as a gourmand’s paradise, east-meets-west vibe, and traditional emphasis on socializing over a bite, it’s no surprise Hong Kong has become fertile ground for a tapas explosion. Moving far beyond the early Spanish restaurants to hit the city, at which the decor was often as stuffy as the food, the new generation of tapas restaurants in Hong Kong are as fresh, vibrant and exciting as their ingredients.
Owing to an influx of innovative, established chefs, an ingrained local foodie culture and a receptive international clientele, Hong Kong’s Spanish cuisine lovers are now spoiled for choice.
Some of Hong Kong’s best and brightest tapas hotspots:
22 Ships (22 Ship St., Wan Chai)
The newest place to see and be seen, Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton recently teamed up with Yenn Wong of JIA boutique hotels and Italian restaurant 208 Duecento Otto for 22 Ships, an eclectic 35-seat, no reservations tapas bar in Wan Chai. Highlights include baked smoked bone marrow, foie gras with sweetbread empanada, and suckling pig with piquillo-pepper jus and apples. A nicely curated drinks menu makes 22 Ships a perfect meetup spot for small groups, with a selection of European and New Zealand wines, homemade sangria and Spanish beers.
Vi Cool (Shop 2101-2, 2/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City)
One of the more casual tapas joints to spring up in Hong Kong in recent months is Vi Cool, located in Harbour City mall. The latest jewel in chef Sergi Arola’s global crown, Vi Cool oozes contemporary Spanish cuisine. Highlights on the accessible yet inventive menu include Iberico ham pizza with goat cheese, sea bass, mango and avocado ceviche, and the potato chip coca. A 30-strong wine list has something for everybody.
Boqueria (7/F, Hotel LKF, 33 Wyndham St)
New York born-and-bred Boqueria, one of the newest players to enter Hong Kong, recently set up shop on the seventh floor of LKF Tower in Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s notorious bar and nightclub area. Echoing in many ways its Flatiron flagship in New York, design-wise Boqueria exudes NYC but its flavors are distinctly Barcelona. Highlights include shrimp in olive oil, beef and potato croquettes, and Pimientos de Padrón (blistered shishito peppers with sea salt).
Homemade sangria, well-made cocktails and an impressive array of Spanish wines ensure good times will be had by all.
Comilonas (#22, 1/F, Yip Cheong Building, Shek Tong Tsui)
Located in an otherwise sleepy section of Shek Tong Tsui, Comilonas takes the private kitchen concept to another level, with a selection of authentic Catalonian tapas and dishes keeping even the most hard-to-please diner happy (and stuffed). The waitlist is legendary, so be sure to book very far in advance.
BCN (37 Peel St, Central)
Cozy (to say the least) BCN (BarCeloNa), which seats only a dozen guests around its distinctive open kitchen, gives diners an up-close-and-personal view of its chefs’ work. Helmed by head chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona, BCN’s menu is packed with fastidiously prepared delights like Iberico ham croquettes, octopus on potatoes and the HK$680 (US$88) per person Special Chef’s Set. Authenticity is the name of the game at this tiny tapas treasure trove.
Mesa 15 (15 Hollywood Road, Central)
Launched last year on bustling Hollywood Road, Mesa 15 runs the gamut from traditional to contemporary under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Alejandro Sanchez.
Highlights include Spanish “nigiri,” mussels, and Iberico ham croquettes with cheese sauce, while the exclusively Spanish wine list is stocked with enough quality bottles to please even the most insufferable of wine snob.