Hong Kong restaurant reviews

First impressions of Alzina, Tsim Sha Tsui - Spanish comfort food at its finest

Pungent, flavourful, and hearty, the dishes we tried at this new restaurant largely hit the spot; barnacles, though, are an acquired taste

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 12:02pm

When we walked to in Alzina, we thought the place looked familiar – then we remembered it used to be a yakitori restaurant called Yayakiya, which we reviewed in December 2015. In just over a year the restaurant has changed from Japanese to Spanish and we hope this one lasts.

A few changes have been made to the decor, but it remains a cosy spot, although the fake greenery wrapped around pillars is a bit distracting when you sit right up against them.

The menu has a long list of itemsbut it would be easier to read if there were fewer quotation marks around the Spanish dish names. It includes rather ordinary-sounding side dishes such as grilled potatoes, potato wedges, portobello mushrooms, green asparagus, sweet corn and Provencal tomatoes. The staff are helpful in describing the food and how it is cooked.

We tried a starter that is unusual for Hong Kong – Spanish barnacles from “a Costa da Morte, Galicia” that were poached in Cantabrico seawater (HK$248). Barnacles are difficult to harvest and considered a delicacy. The bottoms of the barnacles look like miniature prehistoric dinosaur paws. The barnacle meat was very salty and I don’t really understand their appeal.

We liked our second appetiser much more. Spanish torrada, or toast, was topped with anchovies, charcoal-grilled eggplant, onion and red bell pepper dressing with garlic (HK$78). The toppings were pungent and flavourful,but the toast underneath managed to not get too soggy.

The star of the evening was the arroz caldoso de Bogavante, or red lobster rice in a Spanish casserole (HK$248). It reminded us of lobster congee, with the whole lobster halved lengthwise and placed on top of a tomato-based soup that had minced peppers and rice. This hot, hearty dish was definitely comfort food at its finest,and the lobster meat wasn’t overcooked.

We also enjoyed the charcoal-grilled octopus leg with chimichurri sauce (HK$238). The octopus was very meaty and the sauce not too spicy.

We had just enough room for dessert. Churros with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce (HK$52) arrived hot and generously covered in sugar. They went perfectly with the chocolate sauce.

Alzina Spanish Asador, 29-31 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2723 9833