During 1 recent night visit, I ordered the following with much anticipation and wasn't disappointed. Most items were confidently executed to an exceptional standard that's rarely experienced in Hong Kong. Starting with an Olive oil, 2 types of unpitted Olives, White Bread and a complimentary small Potato Salad
, the salad was a strong marriage of eggy sauce together with a profound taste of the natural potatoes itself. I certainly will not hesitate to re-order this dish but as a larger serving! AMAZING START.
The olive oil wasn't plain old olive oil either but intermixed with real olive juice and therefore bordering on murky
, I thought the base oil could still be improved however as it lacked depth and aroma! Now onto the real dishes I was here for:**OK ONLY**Blood Sausage (Morcilla de Burgos....)
Probably one of my own Top 5 repeatedly ordered Spanish dishes, from my understanding its partially different yet similar to a British blood sausage. Tonight's Morcilla version was really different however. I didn't like tonight's offering much as its a drier version than a fresher moist type, despite the presence of chorizo paste - it lacked the desired bold blood taste and came with really mushy, starchy fillers.
Unfortunately this was further spoiled by an overwhelmingly pungent Smoked Paprika taste
. This version is probably better served cold than cooked. Tapeo has a better wetter version, though that's served too chopped up. **RECOMMENDABLE**Bacalau Croquettes
Completely spot on golden colour externally, the potato mash filling inside was silky smooth - too smooth. Something was missing and it was the highly treasured Bacalau salted-cod taste and stringy textural bite, to be replaced by mainly milky and potato flavours. Its quite contrasting to the rougher and herbed version I tried afterwards in a Macao-Portuguese restaurant. I think Ole could give us a more potent version in thefuture without over-diluting away the bacalau taste. Thank you if you are listening.Milk Fritter (Leche Frita)
Mainly made up of an eggy and milky taste, perhaps too custardy sweet. This is the house dessert but actually wasn't my 1st preference. I think the surface absorbed a tad too much oil, I'd imagine this was shallow fried rather than deep-fried as per the original 'Frita' definition. On the plus side, this doesn't have a batter coating like some other Spanish interpretationss of Leche Frita, therefore its less filling after a meal and more distinguishable from our Chinese fried milk! Comes with a scoop of Macadamian Ice Cream which magically complimented the main dessert and also slivers of fruit. This was great but can improve with more milk taste... (ironically a contradiction to the above Bacalau Croquette's too milky problem.) **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – JUST TOO MANY DISHES!!**Trio of Jabugo Pork Cold Meats (Embutido Variado de Jabugo)
Ordered this with a Fino sherry. Decided against the Jabugo Jamon de Iberico this time because other Iberico Pork cured cuts are impossible to order in smaller portions in charcuterie shops, let alone finding Black Iberico pork versions. Consisted of thin cuts of lean meaty slices, non-spicy chorizo, and I believe a cured blood sausage. It was slightly too optimistic charging $80 for such an atrocious portion, also I think it can be served warmer via a heat light must like serving Jamons. Baby Squids (Chopitos en....)This was just brilliant. A highly viscous and naturally flavoursome squid ink unlike most readily bought packages,
the thick sauce and the little squid babies were filled with diced up prawns and almonds. Perhaps I was lucky as mine dish this time was perfectly executed, the sauce was actually deeply flavoured unlike the other 99% of times and its 1 of the best squid ink dishes I have had for a while, perhaps ever! YUMMY with the bread for soaking up the juice! Still dreaming about it after so many weeks.Baby Anchovies (Boquerones Fritos)
I had really wanted to try the Baby Eel 'Angulas' recommended by GourmetKC but didn't order them as that novelty costs upwards of $550. Perhaps save it for next time when more people chip in and share it, I can wait! My 2nd alternative was anchovies. AFAIK salted Spanish Anchovies are world famous and ultra expensive, the best of the award winning batches costing upwards of $200 for a few strands on the world market and not far off baby eel territory but it has so far proven ELUSIVE to find in Hong Kong, even on tonight's occasion. When I saw a similarly named item at Ole I was initially elated - here, you pick from 2 options, either a Vinegar Marinated Version (like Citysuper or Tapeo version, which I believe are treated locally to tone-down the saltiness) or Fried. The manager answered that the fried version aren't pre-marinated in vinegar, so I ordered this believing its actually 'salted but not vinegar marinated' anchovy not so dissimilar to the Italian version just 'fresher', but instead this turned out to be completely fresh anchovies, fried. This was great, it somehow reminded me of a similar dish in Japanese cuisine. I enjoy this dish a lot, probably more than its sibling the bony sardines and it makes you want to drink more wine! Bring it on!Baked Suckling Pig Segovia Way (Cochinillo...)
The Plato Principal for every single table within sight, THIS WAS TO DIE FOR AWESOME! SHOCKINGLY GOOD!
The complexity of flavour compacted into the fork-tender white meat had surpassed all expectations, also amazingly managed to be deeply infused into the bones and skin. It was a sensory overdrive experience that proves impossible to be coaxed out from any Chinese suckling pig.
The skin on this occasion was perfectly wafer-thin crunchy on each crackly bite, akin to a French suckling pig version but only more satisfying! Although I was told that my 'Babe' wasn't smoked via wood/mesquite enhancement whenever a different Babe travelled past from the kitchen to other tables, it carried a distinctive smokiness and fatty aroma trail in its path... In fact it smelt and in particular the bones tasted almost exactly like a well cooked 樟茶鴨's
with its unique penetrating flavours that would excite any human senses. I speculate that there might just be a well guarded, hidden secret
in its cooking technique here, otherwise our other Chinese or Western restaurant versions wouldn't be so far off the mark from this dish. ^O*' Its a bit porkily-fatty and won't help alleviate the bad cholesterol clogging the arteries but who cares when its this good! Can't comprehend this getting any better anywhere else. Without exaggeration - this was in a league of its own.
***The meal was finished off with an alcoholic 'spirit drink' on the house complimentarily. I couldn't catch exactly what it was when it was explained to me as I can't understand the Spanish accent, but I guess it was some kind of Grappas or a similar Digestivo.
So how about a direct comparison of this night versus a previous dining experience at TAPEO when I had allotted that meal an 'OK - 3' only?
Perhaps it wasn't conveyed clearly enough in that particular separate review as it was one of my earliest reviews on Openrice, but my friend and I - the both of us actually spent well over $750 in that venue to try several of their tapas offerings. Not a single one of them were even memorable. The leitmotif of the meal being most dishes overly drenched in oil during the cooking - whether it was the prawn, squid or blood pudding or the mullet fish, not helped by a pork dish that was plain boring, possessed a skin that does not crackle and was even spelt wrong on the menu.. For $800 odd spent, I didn't even get seat backings.
Although both venues were equally stinghy with the small portioning of food versus the price, on a relative basis, by paying merely around $100 more here, I would receive on this night at this venue, a much higher percentage of dishes that tasted more exciting, more authentic and better executed to its true potential. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight and having attained more experience writing on Openrice and if I'm allowed to alter anything, I would probably re-score my meal at Tapeo around 'OK - 4', as the difference in scoring isn't as big as it literally says. Afterall, Tapas and Suckling Pigs aren't meant to be sophisticated dishes at all, that's why they please the ordinary folks drinking to Sangrias and dancing to Flamenco music but the food's 'nature of simplicity' is also why they ought to be executed perfectly well to be rewarded a higher score, just as most dishes were with my meal at Ole I know which place I would rather choose when given a choice again, and I know just exactly how many points I'm going to score this place tonight. We shall all dream about that little piglet again in due time... !
Potato Salad, Olives and Murky Olive Oil
Morcilla too Paprika Spicy and Smoky
Bacalau Croquettes. Slightly too Milky in Taste.
Amazing Baby Squids with Prawns & Almonds.
BABE was Out of This World Good... Amazing
Leche Frita that wasn't exactly a Frita
Spending per head: Approximately HKD450Other Ratings:
Value for Money 2