Consummate modern and traditional Spanish cuisine in captivating style and glamour of bold new restaurant
July 11th, 2013
Discerning diners in Hong Kong have for many years been able to indulge in eating at some of the world’s finest culinary establishments- including many cooking the exceptional home-grown Cantonese cuisine, and complimented with a plethora of fine dining restaurants serving European and international cuisines. Modern Spanish cuisine in the past decade has enjoyed a stunning success globally, including in Hong Kong, with a number of high-profile international chefs opening Spanish-themed restaurants, and most recently with the much-anticipated debut of Catalunya Hong Kong. Asserting a heightened wow factor for contemporary Spanish cuisine in Hong Kong, local diners have enthusiastically embraced the bold new entrant that entices with its consummate meld of traditional and modern Spanish cuisine, set within a stunning and glamorous restaurant space that recreates an authentic Barcelona-style dining experience. The Hong Kong opening of Catalunya follows in the footsteps of its sibling restaurant in Singapore that opened to widespread critical acclaim in August 2012.
Helmed by several proteges of Ferran Adrià- the maestro Catalan chef and founder of elBulli restaurant (voted best restaurant in the world for 5 years) – the contemporary Spanish cuisine at the Catalunya restaurants in Hong Kong and Singapore embodies elements of the elBulli spirit of modern gastronomy. The stellar international team assembled to run Catalunya, includes Group Executive Chef Alain Devahive Tolosa, a veteran of over a decade in the kitchens of elBulli restaurant working with directly Ferran Adrià; and head of operations, Group General Manager Pol Perello, who also spent more than 10 years at elBulli as Restaurant Manager. Other team members contribute their exemplary cooking techniques, nurtured from extensive experience in the kitchens of some of Spain’s finest restaurants such as El Celler de Can Roca, Mugaritz, Arzak and Restaurante Martín Berasategui. A significant endorsement for the new venture was the visit by Ferran Adrià to Hong Kong for the Catalunya soft opening.
Bold and provocative, the design concept for both Catalunya restaurants- Singapore and Hong Kong- is the creation of globally-renowned New York design firm AvroKO (previous notable restaurant design projects in Hong Kong comprise Lily & Bloom, Carnevino and Socialito). Occupying an expansive space of 8,000 square feet on the street level corner of a 1970’s office building in the relatively tranquil Morrison Hill area of Wanchai, Catalunya Hong Kong comprises several inter-connected dining spaces that comfortably seat a total of 140 diners; an exclusive private dining room at the rear (up to 16 diners) that features a large one-way mirror wall that overlooks the kitchen; and a handsome cocktail bar and lounge area at the front entrance with a further 40 seats. Referencing the Catalan cultural heritage of the cuisine, the Catalunya decor harmoniously blends rustic dark timbers, with plush red leather upholstery, hand-made tiles, and custom-made light fixtures, evoking both the finest traditions of Spanish hospitality, and an elegant contemporary design aesthetic.
Catalunya’s menu is replete with both traditional Catalan dishes, authentic and well-executed, and modern culinary interpretations that reference the restaurant teams’ strong connection with the revolutionary “el Bulli movement” of Spanish gastronomy. The contemporary Spanish cuisine cooked at Catalunya is firmly grounded on the traditional recipes of the Catalan region- the impressively constructed menu includes classic tapas such as Patatas Bravas; Cod Fish ‘Esqueixada- a typical Catalan salad of shredded cod; and Croquetas De Jamon. Among the creative, modern tapas are The Bikini– cured Iberico ham, cheese and truffle toasted sandwiches; and The Other Spanish Tortilla– a modern twist on the classic Spanish potato omelette. A stand-out dish for pork loving Hong Kong diners is the signature Traditional Suckling Pig “Segovian Style” – slow cooked for 12 hours and carved tableside with the edge of a plate to demonstrate the tenderness of the meat. Other popular dishes with Hong Kong diners include the Mediterranean Red Prawns– cooked simply to highlight the flavors- choice of salt crusted, grilled or steamed; and the special seafood paellas served only at the Sunday brunch.
Leading the group cocktail program at both the Hong Kong and Singapore restaurants, award winning mixologist Dario Nocentini has an impressive background working at leading bars in Italy, Spain and England- most recently at the renowned Eclipse Bar at W Barcelona. Utilising modern mixology techniques and premium spirits and ingredients, Dario and his team of mixologists create genuinely inventive cocktails- taking classic drinks and re-interpreting them with modern twists and flavor combinations. An extensive wine list includes vintages from many of the finest Spanish wine labels- selected as the prefect accompaniment to the cuisine.
Catalunya Hong Kong serves lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday, with the Sunday brunch already much in demand. Bookings for dinner are strongly recommended, although walk-in diners have the option of ordering from the Tapas Menu, and sitting either at the bar, or at tables in the cocktail lounge area.
Inside Catalunya Hong Kong
The cocktail lounge and bar area is adjacent to the front entrance of Catalunya
The impressive bar is faced with backlighted Catalan style white mosaic tiling, and features a solid walnut counter. Retro-styled globe shaped luminaires are suspended from the ceiling above the bar.
The main dining room- with its dramatic centrepiece of stacked wooden beams and custom made chandelier- opens off a few steps up from the cocktail lounge space .
Crafted from solid timber beams, the traditional roast pig carving station boldly anchors the two main dining room spaces. The stunning brass and glass chandelier suffuses the room with its warm glow.
A luxurious plush red leather corner booth setting in the main dining room.
A separate dining space facing out onto the street through full height glass windows offers a casual dining option.
The “lower” section of the main dining room features an impressive open fireplace, and with the red leather wall paneling and dark timber furniture, exudes a warm and comfortable dining ambiance.
Selections from the Catalunya Tapas Menu
Avocado and Lobster Roll- filled with lobster, avocado, vegetables and mayonnaise
Roasted Meat Canelon with Idiazabal cheese and basil oil- succulent veal and chicken wrapped in a crepe- covered in a cheese sauce.
Suckling Pig Tapa
Signature Cocktail highlights
“Mistery Backyard”- Domain de Canton, Lustau Fino Very Dry Sherry, Angostura Aromatic Bitter, passion fruit puree, lime juice, honey, mint leaves.
“Stairway to Heaven”- Pampero Blanco, pineapple puree, lime juice, vanilla syrup, celery, egg white, coriander leaves. (Created by Dario Nocentini, this cocktail was awarded Bacardi Legacy 2012 Spanish Cocktail of the Year)
“JPS”- Sake, Midori, muddled kumquat & lime, caster sugar.
Catalunya Hong Kong Menus
Cocktails Menu- click on image to open
Catalunya Hong Kong- modern Spanish restaurant & bar- Hong Kong
Address: G/F Guardian House, Morrison Hill, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wanchai. Hong Kong
MTR: Causeway Bay station – Exit A (Times Square)- 10 minutes walk.
Enquiries: +852. 2562 6700
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/catalunyahongkong
Monday – Saturday Kitchen Lunch 12:00 pm ~ 2:15pm; & Dinner 6:00 pm ~ 11:00 pm
Bar 6:00 pm ~ late
Sunday Brunch 12:00 pm ~ 3:30 pm
Dress Code: Smart casual
See also article on Catalunya Singapore