37 Peel Street, SoHo
Tel: 2811 2851
Open: Monday-Saturday 6.30pm-midnight
Price: two set dinners are offered, at HK$580 and HK$695, plus 10 per cent.
Ambience: it's a tiny place with about 15 counter seats around the open kitchen, and a table for two. The vibe is friendly. It's hard to be stand-offish with your neighbours when you're probably bumping elbows with them. The chef was affable and seemed proud to talk about his cooking.
Pros: the food. It was mostly very good, with a few "modernist" techniques mixed in with Spanish classics.
Cons: some of the dishes on the HK$580 "trip to Spain" menu sounded more interesting than the HK$695 "autumn chef" menu, but my guest and I were told we had to have the same menu. Perhaps it's because we were getting full at that point, but the BCN meat paella with Iberico pork tenderloin was slightly disappointing. While the pork was soft, tender and perfectly cooked so it was still pink inside, the rice became dull after just a few mouthfuls.
Recommended dishes: Mediterranean flower pot was the perfect name for a dish that had all the flavours of the Mediterranean - basil (in the shape of foam), black olives (as the sand) and tomato, with two shiso leaves sticking out from the flower pot. While the salt cod croquette on the three hot tapas platter seemed quite classic, the Broken Egg 2.0 - which had soft yolk on the bottom, chorizo and potato foam - was a modernist version. The foie and ham montadito, with the toast spread with a bit of onion jam, was pure deliciousness. Gazpacho with tomato and watermelon had cool, bright flavours, while the red prawn carpaccio with squid ink powder and "cooked prawn essence" (the heads and shells cooked in oil) was light in texture, with a warm, rich stickiness from the raw prawns.
What else? There are two dinner seatings, one starting at 6.30pm, the other at 9pm.