Tapas Bar pairs tasty bites with a variety of wines
Restaurants and bars offering tapas are commonplace these days, but when Tapas Bar at the Kowloon Shangri-La opened in 2002, that approach to serving food was unusual in Hong Kong.
“We borrowed the Spanish concept of many small dishes to be shared over many courses and incorporating cuisine from around the globe, and introduced a delicious menu of international tapas,” says Byron Lee Chi-yan, chef de partie at Tapas Bar. As in Spain, tapas wouldn’t be complete without alcohol, and the focus here is on New World wines by the glass. Ulrich Jablonka, director of food and beverage at the hotel, explains that Tapas Bar has offered more than 30 red and white wines by the glass since opening, allowing diners to taste a wide variety of wines at a reasonable price.
Unlike most watering holes, Tapas Bar opens during the day and stays open until 1am daily, making it easy to drop in for a bite any time.
One of the bar’s signature dishes is Chicken 65, a dish of fried chicken that reportedly hails from Chennai. Lee says that the dish’s curious name can be attributed to a number of legends, such as: “the chicken is cut into 65 small pieces, the chicken is 65-days old, and it is the 65th item on a vast menu of a famous restaurant in India.”
It’s a heavily spiced dish, incorporating Kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander, ginger and chilli flakes, so Jablonka suggests pairing it with a Kabinett Riesling 2011 by St Urbans-Hof, describing it as, “an elegant, crisp and fruity riesling with a hint of natural residual sweetness complimenting the spiciness of the chicken”.
Not forgetting its Spanish roots, jamon is an essential item on Tapas Bar’s menu — it serves Serrano aged up to 20 months, and Iberico bellota aged to 24, 36, 48 and even 60 months. Lee insists that the slicing be precise and consistent, saying, “The enjoyment of ham is very much affected by how it is sliced”, and that “a smooth cut, even distribution of fat and meat, good marbling and very thin slices” are essential.
Tapas Bar, Kowloon Shangri-La, 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, tel: 2733 8756. Open: 3.30pm-1am (from noon on Saturday and Sunday)