I first went to Comilonas just weeks after it had opened its doors, and am happy to say that I believe I was the first food blogger to taste it and review it. I have now been twice since then and am still certain that this is one of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong. It sets itself apart from other private kitchens by serving traditional Catalonian food unique to Hong Kong in a casual and homely environment without the rocket high prices other places would charge.
The menu has stayed the same since it opened, until owner Lluis and his wife Carrie, the chef behind the wonderful food, ventured back to Lluis’ home town of Barcelona for the month of February to explore new ideas and put together a new menu, which I sampled last week with a group of 16 hungry bellies.
Comilonas seats between 10 and 20 diners, and only serves one group, meaning you book the whole space and entertain as though it were your own dining room, for that is how it is designed to feel. They’ll even put the name of the host on the menu for you, an added touch that I obviously loved!
The dinner still kicks off with a Romesco dip – a beautiful blend of almonds and roasted vegetables that Lluis explains is his family’s secret recipe – and crudités to nibble on whilst the guests arrive.
Another dish that has fortunately remained on the menu is the Herb-marinated scallops. Thin slivers of scallops are cured in the tastiest herb-infused olive oil and lemon juice, resulting in wonderfully tender scallops that simply melt in the mouth. Here’s hoping Carrie and Lluis never take this dish off the menu!
To follow, Musclos escabetxats, which translates to pickled mussels, were very popular. The acidic marinade made from olive oil, vinegar, garlic and tomatoes cuts through the strong fishy flavour of the mussels, creating a lovely and hearty dish.
Replacing the previous original salt-cod dish comes Esqueixada, an equally, if not more, delicious platter of salt-cod piled high with a scrumptious blend of tomatoes, olive oil, onions and olives. Although sad at first that the brandada de bacalla was no longer an option, this delicious dish quickly quelled my sadness.
My favourite dish of Piquillo peppers with cheese, however, thankfully remains on the menu. The tender beak-shaped peppers (hence the name ‘piquillo’ which stems from the Spanish ‘pico’, meaning beak) are lovingly stuffed with buttery Manchego cheese and sprinkled with spring onions. Absolutely heavenly.
Newcomer Chicken and pork canalons almost stole first place for me. These canaloni were stuffed with an interesting blend of minced chicken and pork, giving a rather crude meat flavour, topped with a cream and cheese sauce to balance it. Popped under the grill to make the cheese golden and crispy, this, for me, was the ultimate comfort food.
Admittedly, the Fennel and orange salad didn’t thrill me, but then again salads rarely do, as I am not much of a salad person. It was, however, a very refreshing dish.
Unlike the black ink paella on Comilonas’ previous menu, the Seafood paella on the new menu is certainly aesthetically pleasing. It was quite the spectacle as Lluis carried out the enormous paellera to the somehow-still-hungry diners. The prawns were beautifully tender and full of flavour, the rice was perfectly al dente, yet as a whole, I found the dish to be slightly less tasty than its predecessor. However, this could have been due to the lack of aioli, which I fell in love with the previous two times.
To finish, we were served individual portions of Caramelised orange with ice cream, beautifully presented inside half an orange and topped with chopped hazelnuts. This is the dessert from the original menu; the orange halves are consistently scraped clean so I think Carrie and Lluis know that this dish is a winner.
In line with Hong Kong’s private kitchen scene, Comilonas has a BYOB policy, yet unlike other private kitchens, doesn’t charge a single cent for corkage (nor, incidentally, do they charge for service). To add to the atmosphere you wouldn’t experience in any other Hong Kong restaurant, Lluis presents diners with a drinking vessel that is a cross between a watering can and a decanter; using all the skill you can muster, you are expected to pour wine directly from the porró into your mouth, from as great a height as you can without spilling wine all over yourself (bibs are also provided just in case!).
Comilonas is booked up weeks, or even months in advance (I’d like to take just a little bit of credit for this, having reviewed it for The Dim Sum Diaries, Lifestyle Asia and Foodie!). Yet where other private kitchens start to knock the price up once they gain popularity, Comilonas’ menu remains at only $380 per person. For the amount of food I’ve just described and a fun lesson in how to drink wine Barcelona-style, this is as reasonable as you’re going to get. Be careful not to miss the bib though, or your dry cleaning bill might end up being more expensive than dinner!
Flat 22, 1/F Yip Cheong Building
4-16 Hill Road
Tel: +852 9863 2270