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Catalunya [Hong Kong]

PhilD May 25, 2013 07:04 PM

This seems to be the hottest new opening in town despite being hidden in the back streets of Wan Chai. Its the sister restaurant of Singapore's Catalunya and its USP is Executive Chef Alain Devahive Tolosa who spend a decade in the kitchens of El Bulli and has brought a group of FOH and Kitchen staff from Spanish fine diners with him to open up in Asia (how long they will stay in the HK restaurant will be interesting to see).

It's still in Soft Opening mode whilst the train the staff and settle in - with only one evening table turn and no lunch service midweek - but I assume the prices are full freight though as they are already high! We couldn't book a table as its so full (which is still better than the fristrating no booking at 22 Ships) so sat at the bar and grazed on Tapas.

We start with some cocktails. They are pretty expensive at HK$110 for a Negroni and HK$ for their house specials. They are also incredibly small, almost miniature drinks - very poor value even for HK. We change to wine, and they do have a fantastic Spanish list with a sommelier who is top notch recommending a really good Ribera del Duero - PSI 2009 at HK$590.

The food is a pretty mixed bunch of things. The Jamon Iberico Croquette (HK$100) is OK, maybe a bit too fluid for my taste, and the casing is very thick made with what seems like a few panko crumbs. The Tortilla (the traditional version) comes in at HK$95 and is still soft and fluid in the centre, IMO slightly undercooked, and again too be honest rather too fluid for my taste. Next up some Pa amb Tomaquet (HK$55) which is really good. We finish with Cod Fitters (HK$75) and the Bikini (HK$115) which are both excellent, the cod is my highlight of the night, but my partner loves the Bikini which is a iberian ham, cheese and truffle sandwich.

We finish the night relaxing with another recommendation from the Sommelier (did I say he is very good) a Humilitat (HK$380) from Priorat which was very good and maybe a little nicer than the PSI

Overall a enjoyable, yet very expensive meal, the total bill came to HK$2,143 which for Tapas at the bar quite expensive despite the second bottle of wine. The food is good but I actually think the old stalwart Tapeo on Wyndham street is currently the best bet in HK for Tapas (I will duck for cover now) - it will be interesting to try it again after it settles down.

  1. HKTraveler Jun 17, 2013 12:02 PM

    Actually haven't been to Catalunya and most of my friends who have been find it over-priced with average food. Have you tried out Quemo in Wanchai as well? While El Quim is not exactly high-end food in Barcelona, I went to Quemo and thought the food was quite good.

    1. klyeoh May 26, 2013 07:40 PM

      Seems like the prices at Catalunya HK has been upped for the same dishes, compared to its original Singapore outlet.

      Interesting to see if Chef Tolosa and his crew stays on in HK - they were instrumental in raising the standards of Spanish cuisine in Singapore. Catalunya Singapore is currently the *best* on the island by far (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863407), although Ola Cocina del Mar helmed by ex-Santi duo, Daniel Chavez and Pepe Moncayo (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/880109) is not too far behind.

      The general consensus here does seem to be that cosmopolitan HK is the destination of choice for good chefs, compared to less-sophisticated Singapore (we have a smaller market here, and lower cost/price base).

      1. u
        Uncle Yabai May 26, 2013 01:59 AM

        Glad you're ducking for cover, because if Tapeo is the best we've got in Hong Kong for tapas, we're in trouble...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Uncle Yabai
          PhilD May 26, 2013 03:58 AM

          I admit it ain't San Sebastian, and it lacks the PR of a lot of the newer places but to me the food usually delivers....or maybe I am simply addicted to their morcilla and duck egg.

          I am hopefully heading back to SS later this year and was doing some research (www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2013/mar/14...) and was please to see Tapas seem to average about €2.50 or HK$25......puts last night into perspective.

          1. re: PhilD
            Peech Jun 1, 2013 09:51 AM

            I think it's unfair comparing prices in SS to HK… rent's a lot higher here I'll bet… Also the SS pintxos are generally smaller in size if I recall, with many of them served on single pieces of bread.

            While I do like Tapeo, I think Catalunya blows them (and everyone else in HK) out of the water. At HKD 600/head for my last meal excluding corkage, I think you will be hard-pressed to find many places in HK that delivers the same amount of satisfaction at that price

            1. re: Peech
              PhilD Jun 1, 2013 05:40 PM

              Peech - agree probably a slightly unfair comparison, and it will be interesting to see how prices have changed since I last did a Tapas crawl in SS. However, I think Cataluya is still pushing the envelope, as does Grubby Stuff (http://grubbystuff.com/post/507920526...). I need to try the restaurant to see if that feels better value - your blog reviews make it tempting. But Tapas at a bar shouldn't be expensive. And it wasn't even that expensive at the El Bulli Tapas bar near Seville...!

              1. re: PhilD
                Peech Jun 1, 2013 09:18 PM

                Again, I think it's an issue with expectations. If you want jamón ibérico from Joselito - Gran Reserva - you will pay for it dearly anywhere in HK. I'm sure quite a few other ingredients are imported so it will never be as cheap as having it locally in Spain. Same thing with places like Yoshitake - flying in everything from Japan means the same meal will cost a lot more in HK.

                We have to come to terms with the idea that a "tapas bar" in HK - whether they call themselves that or not - is never gonna be like what you get in Spain. At the pintos bars in SS you will be standing up, with tons of used paper napkins at your feet. You won't find that in HK as you're likely to be sitting down, and you are gonna be paying for that… in terms of rent!

                I stand by what I said earlier - in recent years I haven't had many occasions where I was spending in the HKD 600 range for a non-Chinese meal, and found the food to be as satisfying as what I had at Catalunya. More often than not, I'm spending in the $600-800 range and come out cursing, wondering why it was that I bothered going to that establishment in the first place.

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