The latest buzz around town has been all about Vi Cool – Dining Concepts’ very cool new addition headed up by Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola and bringing the essence of Catalan cooking to Hong Kong foodies!
Hidden in a quiet spot of Harbour City, you can’t help but stare at Vi Cool’s funky walls stacked with cans of food and bottles of olive oil – the colours just bounce right at you, bursting with energy and filling the restaurant with a fun lively atmosphere (even if we didn’t want to think about how long it must have taken to create!). The décor here is cool, cheerful and will no doubt fill you with endorphins!
To start, Rach and I shared two “en frio” (cold dishes). The first is Vi Cool’s personal spin on Caesar salad, coming in the form of a bowl of lettuce leaves in ice, and a separate bowl of diced, seasoned and dressed chicken with crushed walnuts and parmesan cheese. Essentially turning a Caesar salad into finger food fit for sharing, we each made scrumptious little wraps that were an incredibly light and fresh start to our meal.
Our next cold dish was the sea bass, mango and avocado ceviche. This is a must-have for avocado lovers – the generous serving of avocado sitting right under the ceviche goes perfectly with the accompanying crunchy chips. The ceviche itself had a sharp tang of citrus and just a little bit of heat to jumpstart your appetite.
Next came the “en caliente”, our hot dishes. A Vi Cool signature, the AROLA style ‘Brava’ potatoes are deep fried potatoes filled with spicy tomato sauce and topped with aioli (who can say no to aioli?!). The playful presentation meant this dish was a great twist on the classic dish of patatas brava, and the potatoes themselves were addictively tasty – this will definitely become a Vi Cool favourite (Rach is already planning a visit just for several plates of these!).
The classic ‘Carne d’Olla’ cannelloni was a Spanish take on the traditional Italian pasta. The cannelloni arrived in an adorable little cocotte, the pasta rolls stuffed with a traditional Catalan meat stew. For me, cannelloni usually means lots of heavy cream and carbs – but this dish was surprisingly delicate whilst still being completely satisfying for meat lovers.
After all the starters, it was time for the cocas! A coca is a Catalan-style pizza, and here at Vi Cool, it’s made with organic flour topped with a range of Mediterranean delicacies. There are classic choices like Iberico ham, goats cheese and artichoke hearts (above – the epitome of Spanish flavour) or more adventurous options, like the Mini Hamburger or Potato Chip.
As for the potato chip coca – you know those drunken college mornings where you crave hearty food like a breakfast pizza or a huge breakfast burrito? Well, Vi Cool’s potato chip coca would have been my best friend if I were still in college (and had a dorm room right in Harbour City)! It was the perfect mix of gooey-in-the-middle quail eggs, white truffle butter, burrata, mozzarella and a generous handful of thinly-sliced crispy potato chips plopped right on top! I can’t even describe how happy this coca made me, so just trust us and try it!
And finally, onto dessert (as you know, there’s always room for dessert at Sassy!). The chocolate mousse tart seemed to be strangely missing the ‘tart’ part of its description; some pastry would have improved this dessert immeasurably, but at least we got our chocolate dose of the day.
However, the highlight of the meal was the somewhat mysterious ‘Piña Colada’. Arriving in a coconut shell, it might look a tad strange, but this mix of pineapple foam with fresh pineapple and coconut cream was a dessert fit for paradise! Definitely save room for this whenever you come (and its so light and delicious that you won’t need to save much)!
Vi Cool would be a great place for big parties to share a tapas feast (although you might find the bill racks up rather swiftly – most tapas are around $80-100 and cocas around $130); however, if you’d rather opt for one of Vi Cool’s lunch sets, which include tapas and coca options, they are very reasonable and range from $108-$158 for a taste of Spain midday! Wine lovers will also be happy to see the extensive list of Spanish wines; they serve over twenty by the glass, perfect for those of you who don’t wish to down an entire bottle but still want a glass or two during happy hour!
What we loved about Vi Cool is that, despite the saturation of tapas restaurants in the city, these dishes felt new, exciting… and yes, v. cool! Despite being small and light, they all packed a real punch in terms of flavour, and most were downright delicious.
With its fresh take on tapas, Vi Cool is gonna be a total hit for some of the best Spanish food around town… so pick up the phone and make a reservation for a table with your friends right away!
Vi Cool Shop 2101-2, 2/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
2735 7787 www.diningconcepts.com.hk/vi_cool/