Having not been to Mesa 15 on Hollywood Road since it was merely a baby, I was intrigued to walk past recently and see that its name had changed to Numero 15. That isn’t all that has changed, however; knowing that the city is still suffering from acute tapas fever, the team behind Mesa 15, including Michelin-starred executive chef Alejandro Sánchez (good first name!), decided to give the restaurant a complete facelift to become less fine dining and more casual tapas bar. If fine dining is what you’re after, however, then don’t fret – Mesa 15 has only moved to LKF.
The space has been completely transformed and now showcases plain wooden tables and stools juxtaposed against bright, powerful murals by Hong Kong-based graphic designer Ronan Leung plastered across the walls. The upstairs is even more casual, with rustic wooden benches for relaxed communal dinners or private events.
As for the menu, it now features simple classic and modern interpretations of tapas dishes, perfect for sharing over a few glasses of refreshing sangria.
The meal started on a high note with a serving of chorizo croquetas. These were bigger than the average tapas restaurant’s offering and were simply bursting with flavour. They had the right level of crispness on the outside, giving way to incredibly creamy, salty goodness inside. They were in fact possibly some of the best croquetas I have found in Hong Kong to date.
Whilst the prawn skewers wrapped in pancetta were not my favourite, given that the pancetta could have been a little crispier, the ox tongue skewers were amazing. Not realising I was a fan of ox tongue, I couldn’t believe how divinely tender each piece was, drizzled in a rich spicy sauce to make them even better. Thankfully there were a few around the table too scared to try tongue, so I gladly ate their share.
Although the batter on the calamari was thicker than I normally like, it was nevertheless still light and fluffy and the squid was cooked to perfection, without a hint of chewiness. The deep fried prawns also had the perfect texture and I loved the wasabi mayo drizzled on top.
My absolute favourite dish of the day was the scallop carpaccio with crispy shallots and ‘jamon bites’. The scallops were unbelievably fresh, simply melting in the mouth. Drizzled in pesto and served with crunchy pine nuts and croutons to add contrasting textures to excite the palate, this dish was absolutely divine.
The slow-cooked Iberico pork belly buns with kimchi mayo and pickled cucumber don’t fall into the classic tapas category, yet regardless of this, even Alejandro says they are one of his favourite dishes on the menu. The light, fluffy, almost Chinese-style bun encases wonderfully tender, juicy meat that works well against the crunchy cucumber.
Not only has the city gone mad with tapas fever, but the craze over mini burgers is also still very much apparent. Numero 15’s mini Wagyu beef burgers with melted mahon cheese and mustard mayo, although again not strictly tapas, are deliciously juicy, whilst the almost sweet bun and mustard kick add a little depth that makes these difficult to stop eating.
After a small break from the meaty options with a plate of simple yet delicious sautéed mushrooms with baby asparagus, the last of the savoury tapas was AFC – Alejandro’s Fried Chicken. To make these perfectly crispy and succulent fried chicken pieces, Alejandro uses a secret recipe adapted from one of his grandmothers’ recipes.
Moving on to dessert, the homemade cheese cake with strawberry and red wine marmalade was far too creamy and silky to be remotely healthy, but who cares?! The 70% cacao chocolate mousse with caramelised walnuts, however, won the dessert contest hands down. Although it looked more homemade than worthy of a restaurant, it was undeniably light and smooth and I loved the crunchy walnuts, which genuinely enhanced the flavour and overall eating experience.
Service at Numero 15 was efficient and prices are much more reasonable in comparison to its fine dining sister, with dishes ranging from $30 to $129. It is a fun, lively place that fulfils its wish of being a casual-chic restaurant with excellent food designed for sharing. Despite trying so many items on the menu, there are still others that are calling out my name, so I will most definitely be back!
15 Hollywood Road
Tel: +852 2363 0881