Since the first whisper was heard about the grand opening of Catalunya, it has been near impossible to secure a reservation at this hot new Spanish restaurant. It first gained celebrity status in Singapore, when it opened there under a year before opening in the Morrison Hill area of Wan Chai, and brought its month-long waiting list with it. With the backing of 20 acclaimed culinary experts from several three-Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, including El Bulli, it isn’t hard to believe that its reputation is well deserved.
Without exaggeration, Catalunya is enormous. But then, perhaps that’s what you get when you move away from the more restaurant-saturated areas about town. Its red walls, high ceiling and chic ambience instantly remove you from Hong Kong, placing you in the heart of the region of Catalunya itself.
After nibbling on some pretty serious olives, we began with Catalunya’s tomato tartar, which the menu correctly described as having a “trick up its sleeve.” Although perhaps more of a ragu than a tartar, the tomato somehow carried a distinct meaty flavour that gave what could have been a very boring dish a lot of depth. I’m not overly fussed by fancy foams, yet the tomato foam, with its delicate flavour, and indeed texture, balanced this dish nicely.
I was strictly informed that I could not go to Catalunya without trying the “Bikini” (pictured at the top). With a generous layer of black truffle, this took the regular ham and cheese toastie we all know and love to another level.
The classic tapas dish of “huevos estrellados” didn’t stray too far from the traditional version; when the ingredients are as simple as eggs, potato and, in our case, chorizo, you needn’t really stray anywhere at all.
The Bombas from “Barceloneta” also took the classic croquetas to another level. Here, deep inside the well-known layer of crispy mashed potato, lay a mound of minced beef, all finished with a generous dollop of (very) spicy salsa brava and aioli.
Catalunya is famous for its suckling pig. The staff make quite a spectacle of it, using plates to slice it for the table. Given there were only two of us, we opted instead for the suckling pig tapa – a miniature version of the famous dish. It was tender and delicious, but, for its size, we weren’t convinced it deserved its $170 price tag.
To finish, the simply titled ‘Chocolate’ dessert was unfortunately not nearly as good as we were hoping it would be. Several textures of chocolate, including brownie, mousse, ice cream and biscuit each lacked a little flavour and didn’t quite reach the level of richness that any chocoholic craves.
Some delicious cocktails and a beautiful bottle of Rioja took the grand total to a rather staggering $1800 for the two of us. Service was excellent and personal, where recommendations were honest and thorough when required. The setting, (mostly) delicious food and easy yet total escape from Central, make Catalunya a natural choice for a satisfying dinner – just make sure you book in advance!
G/F, Guardian House
32 Oi Kwan Road
Tel: +852 2866 7900