Comilonas is an exciting brand new private kitchen which opened just under a month ago in Sai Wan, near Kennedy Town. Serving traditional and wholesome Catalan-style tapas at an affordable rate, Comilonas sets itself aside from many of Hong Kong’s regular private kitchens.
Chef Lluis from Barcelona and his Hong Kongese wife Carrie wanted to serve authentic food from Lluis’ home town in a relaxed and friendly environment.
Although Comilonas is located in a very local and fairly grimy building, the moment you step inside its hidden doors you are transported to what could be anybody’s private dining room. Lluis, Carrie and Iris (their assistant) are there to welcome you from the start, allowing you to feel at home as they explain the origins of each of the dishes.
The restaurant is BYO without corkage charge, although they do also sell a selection of wines in case you forget to bring some. Lluis pulled out an interesting vessel called a porró from the cupboard and explained to us how to use it. A porró is fairly similar to a watering can – the aim is to pour wine directly from the porró into your mouth without spilling it. The further you can hold it from your mouth, the more skilled you are. Lluis kindly provided us with a couple of bibs to protect our clothes, which was definitely necessary. Trying not to laugh at us, he said “it’s ok, wine is very good for your skin!” Of course it is!
As the guests were still arriving, we were served some crudités with a Romesco dip which is made from roasted vegetables and almonds. Apparently each family in Catalonia has their own secret recipe which is handed down the generations. Obviously Lluis didn’t give us his family’s secret recipe but it was deliciously moreish and I had to stop myself from eating too much and not leaving space for the rest of the dishes!
The Herb-marinated scallop was beautiful: finely sliced scallops dressed in the freshest olive oil and lemon juice so it simply melted in the mouth.
The Brandada de Bacalla, a mélange of salty cod and potato, baked in the oven until perfectly golden, was light, fluffy and full of flavour. I only wished there had been more of this one as it didn’t reach very far.
The traditional garlic shrimps (gambas al ajillo), gently fried in olive oil with fresh chilies and plenty of garlic is always one of my favourite dishes and this one did not disappoint. Once the prawns are gone, I like to make the most of the remaining oil as a dip for crusty white bread. In my mind, there is no such thing as too much garlic.
Although it was hard to pick a favourite dish, I must say that the Piquillo peppers stuffed with manchego cheese were incredible. Piquillo stems from the word ‘pico’ meaning ‘beak’ referring to the shape of the peppers.
These peppers were hard to beat, and the Pork mixed cuttlefish meatballs which followed them were possibly my least favourite. An interesting bittersweet flavour was created by using grated dark chocolate in the sauce, but the texture of the pork and cuttlefish together did not please everyone.
Not on the menu were individual glasses of Gazpacho, as Carrie wanted to try out her recipe for this. I can never handle too much gazpacho, but everyone else practically licked their glass clean.
To cleanse the palate after the strong flavoured meatballs, we were served a Grapefruit & orange avocado salad. Unfortunately there was not quite enough avocado in this dish, but the combination of the sour fruit with the sweetness of the fresh mint leaves worked perfectly together and made for an exciting summery salad.
Paella varies across the different regions in Spain. The traditional paella of Catalonia is Black ink paella, made using the ink and flesh of cuttlefish. It is, of course, not as aesthetically pleasing as the yellow-rice paella we all know and love, but it tasted amazing, particularly paired with the freshly made aioli. If there had been room in my stomach for more, I would have licked the whole paellera clean.
Last but not least, dessert was Caramelised orange with ice cream, beautifully presented inside half an orange and topped with chopped hazelnuts. I would probably not have picked this out on a menu (only because I would always go for the chocolate option!) but the different textures complemented each other and made for the perfect end to a delicious meal, even if we were all uncomfortably full for hours afterwards!
Comilonas seats between 8 and 18 diners a night, only serving one group. For a reasonable $380 per person, you receive the quantity and quality of food I have just described, great service and a fun and enjoyable experience… and of course an unforgettable lesson in how to drink wine in true Catalan style!
Flat 22, 1/F Yip Cheong Building
4-16 Hill Road
Tel: +852 9863 2270
Date visited: Monday 20th June 2011