The tide of Mediterranean restaurants opening in Hong Kong continues with Tapas a’Peel, which lies in the vicinity of Peel Street in Soho, overlooking Pak Sze Lane Park. If Rach and I had known this beforehand, we wouldn’t have spent a very sweaty ten minutes walking up and down Peel Street in utter confusion, so take note!
Due to its position on this secluded side street, the small 20-seater restaurant has a very peaceful ambience, making it ideal for cosy meals with friends and family (a private room is also available). The decor is rustic and warm, with soft lighting and a homely Mediterranean feel. Meanwhile, Tapas a’Peel’s menu focuses on tapas dishes not only from Spain, but also Greece, Italy, Turkey and Morocco. All the plates are created for sharing and the emphasis is on fresh ingredients and simple but tasty recipes.
Their lunch set is great value at $88 per person for an appetiser platter of mixed salad, followed by a daily pasta, and coffee or tea. If you prefer, you can opt for their wood-fired margarita pizza for an additional $40 – but it’s the a la carte menu, with a range of dishes from various regions of the Med, that proved more attractive!
Rach and I started by tucking into their garlic loaf with rosemary and sea salt, which was freshly baked, and wonderfully warm and aromatic. I loved that it comes served with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic with a garlic grater to season to your taste. Feta and goat cheese lovers will also adore their stuffed small green peppers and the creamed goat cheese in olive oil – both delicious yet simple dishes, if a little small to share between bigger parties.
A plate of dried Spanish chorizo was also quickly wolfed down, followed by some moreish Jamon Iberico croquettes, which were all too easy to keep popping into one’s mouth! The Moroccan salad with eggplant, vine tomatoes, red onions and tahini yoghurt dressing was light and clean – the tahini dressing just mildly piquant enough to add a touch of zest to the dish.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the mains at Tapas a’Peel. Their grilled lamb shoulder chops in a Moroccan marinade were exquisitely done and a fairly generous size, enough to fill oneself up without all the preceding tapas! The marinade was delicious and had to be mopped up by the remainder of the bread.
However, my favourite dish of the meal was the “gambas pil pil”, king prawns in a spicy chilli olive oil with lashings of garlic. The prawns were fantastically fresh and I love nothing more than still-crispy fried garlic slices! Here was a dish that fully reflected Tapas a’Peel’s concept of simplicity and allowing the food to ‘speak for itself’. Prawn addicts beware – you could find yourself ordering more than one plate (and again, don’t forget to mop up that sauce with bread)! Speaking of plates, I found Tapas a’Peel’s use of brightly coloured crockery utterly cheerful and sunny, adding further to the place’s cosy charm.
Desserts at Tapas a’Peel are few in number but their chilled walnut cream with caramelised walnuts and frangelico liqueur was delightful (a sophisticated version of a Walnut Whip!), if a tiny bit too rich after everything we ate. But the silky smooth cream and medley of nutty flavours won us over and we ensured that we made a sizeable dent in the pudding!
Meanwhile, their homemade lemon tart had all the flavours and potential of being a truly great dessert – if it weren’t for the too dense biscuit base being on the soggy side due to an overly moist lemon curd.
Even though Tapas a’Peel is one in a long list of ever emerging Spanish restaurants in Hong Kong, the real appeal of this establishment is their back-to-basics approach of letting the ingredients shine without too much fuss over presentation or the need for dishes with a twist. The smaller tapas dishes will set you back around $50-90, with the larger mains about $100-150. I certainly know that I will be back for more of their wholesome dishes.
Tapas a’Peel Lower Ground Floor, 61-63 Hollywood Road, Central
2545 5988 www.a-peelasia.com
Check out more foodie adventures from Michelle on her blog, Chopstixfix!