Hong Kong’s latest Spanish restaurant from the El Willy Group!
Soho 189 is a brand spanking new development right next to the new Sai Ying Pun MTR. It houses super cool art galleries and is a short walk from Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan, and it also happens to have the latest restaurant from the El Willy Group – La Paloma.
Head up in the lift at Soho 189 and you’ll reach this spacious new Spanish restaurant (which literally translates as ‘The Pigeon‘). The decor is modern and fresh, with bursts of oranges, reds and light blues dotted amongst the funky furnishings. As soon as you step into the restaurant, you immediately feel welcome and at ease. The atmosphere is buzzing and warm, and I loved how our table had a view of the open kitchen where you could see the chefs busily preparing the tapas dishes. It was a great start to an evening full of good food and fun in a laid-back, friendly environment…
As a casual Spanish restaurant, La Paloma of course offers the classic Spanish drink of Sangria. We went all out and had a jug of the Red Wine Sangria ($228) which was delicious – fruity but not too sweet, and actually very refreshing. It complemented all the little dishes we tried and went down almost too well, to the point where I was left feeling considerably more giggly than when I’d first arrived! They also offer White Wine Sangria if you’re looking for something a bit lighter, and you can even start your night off with one of the aperitifs ‘while you wait‘ which include Aperol Spritz, Sherry with sprite and fresh mint, vermouth or the special Summer Drink. Of course beers, wines and soft drinks are all available too, but I’d definitely recommend the sangria to get you in a ‘fiesta’ mood.
After a couple of sips of sangria we were served some small ‘tapas’ style dishes. The Bacon Con Queso (Bacon and Cheese Explosive Air Baguettes – $68) was definitely not an ‘authentically’ Spanish dish, but that didn’t stop these bites of happiness from being delicious. This unique tapas invention was a delightful, playful start to the meal; the crunchy outside literally popped in our mouths, letting out an oozy, indulgent cheese mixture. The definition of moreish!
I really enjoyed the rustic presentation of the Sardinillas (Baby Sardines, Salmorejo & Toppings – $50), which came in half of a sardine tin. The salty fish with the olives was intensely flavourful, perfect for munching on if you want something small and salty to go with your ice cold beer or to whet your appetite.
Another exciting ‘explosive’ tapas dish was the Salmon A Humado (Explosive Smoked Salmon with Chipotle Cream and Marinated Salmon Roe – $22 per piece). The creamy inside had a subtle spice to it and perfectly complemented the fresh smoked salmon on top… again, not traditionally Spanish, but oh-so tasty and definitely fun to eat.
We also tried the Croquetas de Pollo – $55, which had nice crispy coatings covering the chicken inside. Whilst this wasn’t a bad dish, it didn’t have quite the excitement and inventive flair as the other tapas, and I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘must-try’.
Speaking of ‘must-try’ dishes at La Paloma… the Gambas Al Ajillo – $78 definitely makes it onto the list! I first tried these at the Soho 189 opening, and couldn’t get enough of them. The juicy prawns are so fresh and succulent, smothered in a deliciously strong garlic and olive oil sauce. Lip-smackingly good stuff.
One of the more substantial tapas dishes was the Pulpo A La Gallega (Octopus with Potato, Smoked Paprika and Olive Oil – $115). I’m usually a big fan of this hearty combination of meaty octopus and potato, but these left me a little underwhelmed as the potatoes weren’t as soft and melt-in-your-mouth as I was expecting.
Yet another tapas arrived at our table, the Bikini Mallorquin – $60. These toasty sandwiches were packed with melty cheese and totally comforting – a surefire way to satisfy any cheese cravings.
After all these tapas dishes we were feeling suitably stuffed, but when we were presented with the Rotos (Broken Eggs with Baby Squid and Iberian Ham Shoulder – $85), we couldn’t resist tucking in. When broken, the runny egg yolk coats the chunks of perfectly cooked squid and crispy potato pieces, creating a delectable mixture. The strips of high quality Iberian Ham added a salty and decadent flavour to this very rich dish… This would be the ultimate hangover cure and is definitely one to share!
By this point we were full up – but the main dish was yet to come. The Cochinillo (Roast Suckling Pig with Traditional Garnish – $350) arrived in all its glory, and didn’t disappoint. This roasted meat was incredibly tender with a thin and crispy skin. The sauce was rich and fatty, and we could only manage one or two pieces each… it was a very indulgent dish and again, worth sharing with a group so that you can try just one or two pieces of the mouthwatering meat!
If you fancy something sweet to end your night, La Paloma does serve a small selection of desserts including Bollycao (Nutella Chocolate Broiche Buns – $58). In my opinion, anything filled with nutella is a good thing, so I did enjoy this simple dessert, although it was a bit too sweet and rather stodgy after our filling mains.
>We also had a bite of the Flan Tropical (Passionfruit and Coconut Creme Caramel – $58). I enjoyed the tart yet refreshing passionfruit which was a nice flavour for summer, and the creme caramel itself was pretty much what you would expect.
The staff were very attentive and welcoming at La Paloma, full of recommendations. You can tell from the interactive, open kitchen that the team knows how to have fun, too! I really enjoyed my evening spent in this buzzing restaurants – it’s the perfect place to come for a casual night out with good food and good drinks for a reasonable price. Don’t expect fine dining, but do expect some unusual twists on the Spanish tapas that we know and love.
This trendy new arts hub is a great alternative if you’re sick of frequenting the same street in Soho but still want to go somewhere convenient with all your friends. I can imagine the brunch would be ideal if you’re looking for a girly catch up, and I would definitely recommend the garlic prawns and ‘exploding’ tapas for dinner! I’ll be back to try the paella which I’ve heard from our resident Spanish Sassy Girl is pretty good too… viva la comida española!
La Paloma, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2291 6161, www.facebook.com/Lapalomahk, @lapalomahk. La Paloma is open from Tues – Sun (dinner only on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends).