In the mood for Tapas? We’ve got you covered with our reviews of Spanish restaurants and bars in Hong Kong. From Iberian pork to patatas bravas and perfectly-executed tacos, here are some of HK’s best spots for Spanish food. Buen provecho!
Spanish restaurants and bars in Central
El Cerdo – great Spanish food in Soho
We arrive at intimate Soho eatery El Cerdo to find diners out on the front terrace and a real buzz inside. After the warmest of welcomes, we’re seated at our table, and it soon becomes clear that the team here are passionate about their food and take great pride in everything they deliver.
We start with some spectacular Sangria, before the first dish appears, Thinly Sliced Cured Pork Blood Sausage ($68) – it’s a perfect bite, with the warm bread straight off the plancha. Then there’s the Crispy Cristal Bread ($48), topped with a refreshing zingy blend of grated fresh tomato and onion with extra virgin olive oil – a lively start.
Iberian Ham Croquetas ($48) are an absolute treat, with a crisp crumb encasing the savoury delights of jamon and cheesy mash. Padron Peppers ($88) are vibrant green and simply seasoned with sea salt, with a gentle bitterness that cleanses the palate. And the Patatas Bravas ($62) are unctuous and well balanced. Each dish is served with the broadest of smiles, probably because the front-of-house team knows exactly what our reaction will be as we bite into it!
Grilled Asparagus ($108) comes wrapped in Serrano ham with a 64-degree-Celsius egg sitting proudly on top; the soft white soon reveals a glorious golden yolk to dress the dish. Crispy Pork Belly ($88) is naturally sweet and the accompanying quince aioli is well thought out. Grilled Lamb Tenderloin Skewers ($118) are cooked to perfection with a dusting of spice and a tantalising deep emerald parsley sauce on the side.
All these top-notch tapas are a symphony of colour, texture, balance and flavour. Other dishes to catch our eye include the Moorish Spiced Meatballs, and the Mini Beef Burger, which features grilled chorizo, quail eggs and a romesco sauce. The classic tortilla with potato, egg and onion and a mushroom medley in sherry will also have to wait until next time.
Seafood lovers have plenty to rejoice about here, too: the Crispy Squid served with garlic, chilli and lemon aioli is popular, as are the Sizzling Prawns and the Octopus with Paprika. The Grilled Hokkaido Scallops are a signature dish – they come with sweetcorn purée and crispy pork belly. There’s paella on the menu, too.
Pretending we had room for dessert, we dived into the Basque-style Burnt Cheesecake ($78) as if we hadn’t eaten for days. Rich and tangy, it was well worth the calorie hit. Churros ($58) were even more of a triumph – delightfully crisp, and the hazelnut in the Nutella sauce was a winner.
Why we love it!
Simon Lynch and his enthusiastic, talented team deliver a tapas experience that’s second to none. It’s always such a joy and a privilege to be in a restaurant where the passion and pride is so obvious. The wait staff are fun, lively and efficient and the wonderful buzz never stops. What an amazing night. Bravo El Cerdo, bravo.
– Karl Woodbury
Nuevo Tapas Bar – Spanish tapas in Lan Kwai Fong
Tucked around the corner in LKF’s infamous rat alley (aka Robust And Tasty alley!), Nuevo Tapas opened earlier this year. This is a fun spot where diners are invited to “Come for the tapas and stay for the drinks”.
The bar is well stocked and the team do indeed mix some serious drinks. We started with chilled red wine sangria, refreshing and fruity. There’s a decent menu of small and large sharing plates as well as a couple of mains.
First up, we tried the tender and salty 36-month aged Jamon Iberico ($108), served with chilli peppers and some good bread; it’s a tasty beginning! The Grilled Padron Peppers ($78) and Patatas Bravas ($58) were both nice, but perhaps overshadowed by the next two imaginatively served dishes: Nuevo Wings ($58) may not be traditionally found on a tapas menu, but these super crunchy morsels are moreish, with a good punch of chilli; and the pan-fried Wagyu Beef Cubes ($148) are served on a spoon as an individual bite and are quite simply delicious. The fusion twist to traditional tapas will no doubt please plenty of Hong Kong diners.
Why we love it!
Given the location, you can expect good music too, which helps make this tapas bar a cracking night out.
– Kate Woodbury
Other Spanish restaurants and bars on Hong Kong Island
La Paloma – a taste of Spain in Sai Yin Pun
Native chef Alex Fargas is bringing a touch of Spanish sunshine to Sai Yin Pun. Inspired by a traditional Chiringuito, or beachside cafe, La Paloma is a welcoming, bright and breezy dining room. There’s an open kitchen (I love watching the chefs hard at work) and a small terrace ideal for cooler weather.
There’s a great menu, too, with emphasis on sharing tapas and paella. Starting with the Aperativo menu, we were intrigued by the “air baguettes” (“2 fingers, 1 bite”). My husband chose the Wagyu Beef and Foie Gras ($35), which was finished at the table with a touch of blow-torch theatre, while I tried the Explosive Bacon and Cheese ($35) – and it was exactly that! Both were delicious.
Next up was Jamon Iberico with Crystal Bread ($288), which came smothered in soft tomato. I also love Boquerones (“white anchovies”, $98) – La Paloma does a very good serve with the crunchiest potato crisps. Empanadillas ($118) are stuffed with delicious beef cheek and accompanied by a zesty chimichurri dressing. And the Huevos Rotos ($188) gets an upgrade here with an indulgent serving of foie gras.
To finish, we shared Churros ($88) with chocolate dipping sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Why we love it!
The food is authentic and tasty, and portions are generous and well-priced.
The drinks menu has lots of choice, from Spanish wines and beers to interesting cocktails, sherries and digestives. Our pitcher of signature Red Sangria ($398) had just the right kick of vermouth.
There’s a well-priced weekday set lunch ($198) and, as you’d expect, a hearty weekend brunch with a generous free-flow option.
– Kate Woodbury
The Optimist – great value Spanish food in Wan Chai
Entering The Optimist on the ground floor of Hennessy Road, you feel instantly transported to a Barcelona tapas bar. You can stay and enjoy drinks and tapas here from just $48; we had a dinner booking, so we made our way up to the 3rd-floor dining room. The décor is welcoming, with hues of lush green providing an understated elegance, offset by some fun and quirky art.
We started with a glass of Prosecco ($80) and our teenager chose a delicious Salty Pineapple and Thyme Mocktail ($60). As we perused the menu, the waiter brought a basket of freshly baked warm bread and aioli.
Hailing from his native Spain, Executive Chef Victor is a recent addition to The Optimist team. He has worked extensively in Asia and this influence can be seen in some of his new dishes.
The à la carte menu is split into sections. From “La Dispensa” (charcuterie and cheese) and “De Tapeo” (tapas), we chose five dishes to share. Pan con Tomate ($55) is a simple but delicious dish of coca bread and the ripest of tomatoes. I single-handedly devoured a portion of perfectly seasoned soft Boquerones ($85). And we tried one of the chef’s newest dishes, Crispy Beef Tripe ($130) seasoned with garlic and chilli served with a housemade romesco sauce – this is bound to be popular with Hong Kong diners. There are three varieties of croquettes too – ours with salty Iberico ham ($120) hit the spot.
Spanish chefs and cooks are renowned for combining two humble ingredients, eggs and potatoes. Here, the Huevos Rotos ($140) is the perfect example, a bed of crispy potatoes adorned with perfectly cooked eggs and more of the Iberico ham. We next chose two dishes from “Platos Principales” (mains). The evening’s showstopper was the Slow Cooked Lamb Tomahawk ($580), served with roast potatoes. Chef Victor cooks the lamb sous vide and finishes it on the Josper Grill resulting in the perfect marriage of tender lamb and crisp skin. Our daughter was equally enamoured with her chicken dish, Pollo a la Brasa ($210), served with roast potatoes and a punchy smoked chilli sauce. Don’t miss the Truffle Mashed Potatoes ($95), adorned with a generous shaving of truffle.
There are four desserts; Chef Victor recently introduced a Burnt Basque Cheesecake ($110) – it’s among the best we’ve ever tasted. Meanwhile, the soft and decadent Chocolate Mousse ($95) is garnished with olive oil, sea salt and honeycomb crumb. For our next visit, we love the look of the chef’s signature Churro Bao ($120), a playful twist on two classics.
There’s an extensive drinks list, including wines and sherries from Spain. We chose a bottle of Paco Garcia Tempranillo, very well priced at $350.
Why we love it!
As with all Pirata Group restaurants, The Optimist has a good value set lunch (including a 90-minute free-flow Friday lunch – “Frunch” – from just $198) and weekend brunch options.
– Kate Woodbury
We hope you enjoyed this article on Spanish restaurants and bars in Hong Kong. See more foodie inspiration in our Wine & Dine section!
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.