IT'S NOT EASY TO decide what to order at Iberico & Co, especially if you're a pork lover. Iberico - from the Iberian Peninsula, on which Spain and Portugal sit - has become synonymous with the pigs native to the area, and especially with the air-dried ham made from them.
We went for a pork-centric meal. First up was the salt-rubbed crispy pig skin with smoked paprika mayonnaise (HK$36). The flattened, pressed pieces of skin were firm and crunchy, not like the delicately crisp, curling pork scratchings sold in packets in pubs. They had just the right amount of salt and went well with a drink or two.
Pan-fried morcilla with crushed potato and spring onion (HK$82) featured thick, soft and fatty slices of blood sausage with crusty chunks of potato. The daily tortilla with spicy tomato chutney (HK$72) was, on our visit, chorizo. Although it looked more like a roasted pepper tortilla - so much that I double-checked with the waitress- we could taste the sausage's rich porkiness. My one complaint was that the thick wedge was cold at the centre.
A main course of crispy cider-roasted pork belly with apples (sold from 7pm, HK$168) was fantastic. The chunks of tender, fatty pork had a nice layer of crunchy crackling. The rich meatiness contrasted well with the slight bitterness and fresh flavour of raw watercress and the texture of the roasted apple. Spicy chorizo and chicken paella (HK$248) had plenty of sausage and four pieces of chicken. The rice was moist and tender without being mushy, although the saffron flavour was very faint.
On the non-porky side, seared goose liver with fig and ruby port chutney (HK$140) was a generous slice of the foie gras on a piece of bread. The liver was delicately crusty, and balanced well with the sweet, tart chutney.
For dessert, churros with 72 per cent cacao chocolate sauce (HK$58) were undercooked; the centres of the doughnuts were gooey. Much better was the subtly flavoured Bailey's serradura (HK$58), with a light creaminess offset by the crunchy popcorn and peanut brittle.
Iberico - part of the Enoteca Group (Enoteca, Cicada and Bacar) - is in the space that previously housed Sakesan. Gone are the large screens and sake casks of the modern Japanese, replaced by tiled floors and, in the front, high arches reminiscent of Barcelona's Mercat de la Boqueria. The bar sends out cocktails and other drinks, including refreshing, potent sangria. Our main waitress was friendly, helpful and efficient.
Iberico & Co, 18 Shelley Street, SoHo, tel: 2752 8811. Open: Monday-Saturday 11am-11pm (soon to open on Sundays). About HK$220 without drinks or the service charge