Wandering around Wyndham Street can always turn out to be quite a fun activity during lunch hours as there are restaurants in each & every single block with busy executives munching & drinking their way at speed of lightning to make their way back to office by 2pm. Typical lunch, I was doing my usual patrol around the hood and I decided to pay a visit to this little spot TAPEO which is not the easiest place to notice.
What appealed me was that first of all, something about Open Kitchens that really excites me as I love the smell of fresh food being grilled, cooked, deep fried, sauteed etc and a team of chefs preparing all the food for the diners. Tapeo is a very interesting. Look at the wonderful photos below and especially the very smokey photo of the mackerals being grilled, for me, that is the best part of culinary adventures is to see professional chefs doing their magic! At Tapeo, whatever you order, the chefs will prepare all your orders in front of you (aside from the desserts) and the only downside is that the ventilation system must be improved as I left the restaurant with a very strong smell of grilled food which is not the best!
First of all, I want to share with you all the best part of the meal which was the Jamon Serrano - a dry cured Spanish ham served raw in slices also known as Mountain Ham. Traditionally, the hams are trimmed & thinly sliced, best served in room temperature. Do not be mistaken with the Jamon Serrano with the Jamon Iberico as it is an entirely different breed and Jamon Iberico is also much more expensive. Originally, the Jamon Serrano was meant to be for "tasting" but somehow, we ended up finishing the whole platter as the taste was purely savoury & divine. For $98 per platter at Tapeo, this is not a bad deal at all
Now, on the rest of the meal, want to share with you the best part of the meal:
- Pulpo a La Gallega - Gently Confit Octopus with Capers & Paprika - This is one of the 10 dishes to try when you are travelling in Spain and is Galicia's signature dish. The octopus was slowly braised for 3-4 hours and cooked & reheated in virgin olive oil with a mixture of Spanish sea-salt, paprika & capers. This was my favourite dish of the day as the it is very difficult that the texture of the octopus is so tender & chewy and it was a special dish at Tapeo. (See recipe - http://gospain.about.com/od/fooddrink/ss/topspanishfood_2.htm)
- Lamb with Tomato & Spices - Grilled Lamb with Cayenne Pepper, Paprika & Chilli - The lamb is slowly grilled and is served in skewers along with halved cherry tomatoes. The flavour of the spices was extremely fragrant and the flavour of the lamb is alsy very strong. The combination of cayenne pepper, paprika & chilli gave this dish an extra kick for sure and this is a perfect snack to pair with an ice-cold beer after-work. Despite the positive side of this dish, priced at $68 for 2 skewers, perhaps 2 more skewers shall justify.
- Crispy Pork Belly with Quince Alioli - Slowly roasted pork with a Quince Garlic Mayonnaise - This was also a typical Spanish Tapas served and watching the fat slab of the pork belly being slowly roasted was a good source of entertainment. The flavours & the smell coming from the open kitchen is something that every foodie should be drooling over. Never have been a big fan of Pork ever in my life but since it was highly recommended by the chef, I gave this dish a shot and to my surprise, I enjoyed very bite of it asit wasnt extremely oily & fatty that I thought it would be. The pork belly was extremely crispy which was the best part of it. The Quince Alioli - in simple terms - an apple garlic mayonnaise which to my palate was a good pairing with the pork belly but for a garlic lover like myself, my advice for Tapeo is, please more garlic as the garlic mayo isnt very garlic flavoured.
- Other dishes which we also tried out was the Gazpacho - cold Spanish Tomato based raw vegetable soup which as originated from the southern region of Andalucia. a very refreshing cold "soup" to start off your meal for sure especially in the heat of Hong Kong. The bread basket was also very fresh & warm and the mix of warm bread & ice-cold Gazpacho provided an interesting chemistry.
- Chorizo & Tomato - Sauteed in sherry vinegar, parsley & spring onions. I have never been a fan of Spanish Chorizo as the texture is far too similar to the Chinese Dried Sausauges (Lap Chuen 臘腸) therefore I am definitely not too keen on this dish. The sauce of the dish was tasty and best for your bread dipping and my recommendation is more parsley should be chopped & used in this dish for a stronger intensive flavour
- Manchego Cheese & Honey - This should have been a starter in the traditional Spanish cuisine but however, I decided to eat this as a dessert. Manchego Cheese is a sheep's milk cheese, produced in the La Mancha region of Spain. Normally aged for 3 months or longer, this cheese has a very sharp taste, slightly salty but not too strong, similar to a feta cheese. Traditional method in consuming Manchego Cheese is to serve on toasted bread with drizzled olive oil - AHHHH -- these Spanish people do know how to eat like a king! Cheese & Honey pairing is a interesting pairing but again, I normally prefer my cheese with some form of carbs therefore this dish can be improved if some sort of bread or crackers are served together.
It was a very plesant experience to have a relaxing lunch in the middle of Central. Friendly & courteous service and it definitely has that home-feeling especially staff tries to strike a conversation every now & then. Food is hearty & very well presented with good flavours especially the open kitchen is a joy whilst you are waiting your food. However, the ventilation system must be improved and should also consider about enlarging some of the portion sizes as the Hong Kongers may find the portion size a little too small even though it is meant to be a Tapas. Aside from two minor issues, I do recommend this venue to my readers and I shall also revisit this place duly!
UPCOMING REVIEW: Shanghainese Buffet at The Clipper Lounge at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Address: 19 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong (中環荷李活道19號)
Food Quality (5* the highest): 3/1/2/*
Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): **