Restaurant review: La Paloma, Sai Ying Pun - sophisticated tapas
Popular newcomer offers a feast of flavours and Iberian specialities
La Paloma isn't the easiest place to book because it's so popular. And it's not the easiest place to find: although the official address is on Queen's Road West, the entrance is on Wilmer Street. Things were quiet when we arrived on a rainy weeknight, but the space filled quickly.
From the list of specials, we ordered the chorizo con jerez Tio Pepe (HK$75), which disappointed because we couldn't taste any sherry. But the meal improved immensely after that.
Kingfish tiradito with avocado and green chilli sauce (HK$72) was tart and refreshing. Stuffed baby squid with lobster sauce (HK$78) had tender squid and a light, flavourful filling. Bikini mallorquin (HK$60 for four) was a delicious toasted cheese sandwich with spicy sobrasada and Mahón cheese, but paled next to the air baguettes (HK$68 for four). I almost didn't order them because I've eaten air baguettes at El Bulli in Spain, but these were different: instead of being filled with air, the delicate, cracker-like, bacon-wrapped crust had a warm, liquid cheese filling. We were told to eat it in one bite, and although it was a large mouthful, it was manageable.
For our mains, the signature la Paloma (HK$398) — roasted pigeon with foie gras, wild mushrooms and Pedro Ximenez — was very good. The leg was slightly tough, but the breast was rare, tender and moist. We liked the arroz a la cazuela (HK$328) — seafood and Iberian pork juicy rice with vegetables — but, in retrospect, we realised we should have tried one of the three paellas that everyone around us was ordering and which looked and smelled fantastic. A salad of tomatoes, pickled chillies and crispy pork belly (HK$58) was satisfying with plenty of meat, and the pickled chillies were delicious.
However, the desserts were nothing exciting. The best of the four we tried was the marinated berries with smoked milk ice cream (HK$50), primarily because of the ice cream.
La Paloma, 1/F, 189 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2291 6161. About HK$375 without drinks. There's no service charge — which we didn't realise when we left a tip