Afterthoughts – BCN Spanish Tapas
The Hong Kong restaurant scene is infatuated with the new and hot (sounds like dating?), and hip, in-fashion restaurants are often hyped out of proportions. It’s almost as if part of the thrill is in the elusive chase of the long wait lists and months-in-advance bookings, which makes me wonder, are we really hungry for good food, or are we just hungry for the pursuit?
Last saturday, we went to such a restaurant, where it was so in-demand that I had to make our reservation 2 months in advance. BCN is tucked into a narrow space on Peel street, right across from the old Chez Patrick, or the new Chicha. The entire restaurant seating consists of a bar counter wrapped around a narrow open kitchen. The venue is small and intimate, although difficult for groups greater than 4 as it’s hard to have a conversation across the linear seating. I loved the cheerful mosaic tiles that line the countertop, and the colourful plates and cutlery.
We started the evening with a bottle of Spanish red, and a beautiful plate of cheese and cured meats. I loved the simple bread slices that accompanied the meats, as each slice was rubbed with garlic, sweet tomato juice and olive oil. Sometimes, simplicity is the greatest detail. Each shaving of Iberico pork wore a glossy oil sheen, and made me wonder how many acorns did that pig eat exactly to produce some wonderful flavours.
Next up was a trio of pintxos, a selection of tapas from the Basque country. I greedily devoured the Iberico croquette – the crust was crispy and the inside gooey and comforting, although it was my least favourite out of the dynamic trio.
I really enjoyed the grilled octopus pintxo, it was tender and sweet, and reminded me of the ocean.
I always save the best for last, and I loved the foie gras pintxo, paired with a sweet fig compote on a crisp bread wafer.
Following the pintxos, we cooled our palate with a lusciously smooth and creamy gazpacho of tomato, watermelon and basil. The inspiration behind the soup originates from the Andalucia region, and it is by far the best gazpacho I’ve tasted thus far. The cold, refreshing liquid was poured over a watermelon skewer and a dollop of diced Iberico table-side.
For a hefty dose of carbs, we were treated to fried short noodles cooked in a seafood broth, tossed in an oil and garlic sauce and dressed with fresh tomato. The chef, Edgar Barahona, told us that he made the noodles the same way as a paella. The plate was garnished with powdered squid ink, and added to the dish only visually and not through flavour. I found this dish only mediocre as it reminded me of Chinese stir-fry noodles (not that anything is wrong with this) but it lacked any star quality. My dining companions seem to have enjoyed this dish more than me.
Now we get to the main act! I chose this set menu specifically for the suckling pig – slow cooked for hours in a vacuumed sealed plastic bag with hot vapour, then slowly crisped in a frying pan.
Sweet potato cream and Spanish meat sauce accompanied the little piggy. The dish was spectacular, with beautiful layers of contrasting melty fat and juicy succulent meat, crowned with a crispy wafer of glossy porky skin. It was a sexy thing to look at, and even better to taste.
A sweet ending to a fabulous dinner – decadent chocolate truffles with candied orange peel, set on a plate brushed with gold edible paint.
Verdict: Definitely worthy of a return visit, although I am slightly turned off by the strict booking system and menu selection. There are two dinner menu options: the one with suckling pig at $580 per head, and another with more seafood at $680 per head. I actually wanted to try both menus, and since we were on a double date, we thought that each couple could have one of each menu to share. However, we were informed that everyone at the table must stick to a single set menu due to difference in serving time between the two options. This was annoying to me, as I wanted variety, and Spanish tapas are all about sharing. I guess that just means we’ll be back soon to try the second menu!
G/F, 37 Peel Street
Tel: 2811 2851