Localiiz’s hungry Suzannah Van Rooy checks out the sexy new tapas bar in buzzing Sai Ying Pun.
Our watches are our masters. We keep meticulous track of time because: we’ve got a 9.30am meeting in Central that should last for 45 minutes, after which, we can hop on a bus for a 15 minute commute to Wan Chai for our 10:45. Then, we’ve got a 20 minute window to scarf down a 7/11 sandwich, before we head back to the office for our 12:30 debriefing with our manager, just in time to secure our next big sale at 1 o’clock.
That’s why I savour the sensation of time seemingly coming to a halt walking through the threshold of La Paloma (The Pigeon). The Sai Ying Pun located Spanish tapas bar (also the latest project by Chef Willy Trullas Moreno) attempts and succeeds in translating the relaxed and friendly Barcelona vibe for Hong Kong’s hungry hustlers.
Playful multi-colored lights dawn dimly lit bulbs and hang in droves. Cheeky little pigeons pop their heads out to greet you around every corner. There’s a message written in Spanish on the wood-paneled wall that leads you over to an open kitchen where you can wave hello to the hard working chefs, or just observe the ongoing culinary magic. The best part of La Paloma is the bar, or “El Bar”. Tucked away in the back of the restaurant, it has it’s own special old time diner feel to it accentuated with fairy lights, pigeon-patterned walls, and high table tops.
Patrons were at ease and comfortable in their surroundings the night I came to dine. It looked more like they were in a friend’s living room than at a meal they were paying for. Even the good-natured, efficient staff lacked the superficial misery that typically oozes from unsmiling, pressed servers here in Hong Kong.
Unsurprisingly, La Paloma perfected the rich home-cooked flavors and textures of a long list of traditional Spanish tapas. The tortilla, an omelet composed of egg and potato, was incredibly filling yet surprisingly light and fluffy in texture. The patatas bravas (a personal favorite) were piping hot and smothered in a spicy, garlic mayonnaise sauce. I’m not usually the biggest fan of meat, but the nutty, fatty flavor of the Iberico ham made me want to gnaw on a dried pig leg.
Alongside the traditional selection of tapas, La Paloma also serves a selection of paella, suckling pig, chorizo and cheese, and even pigeon itself. La Paloma also offers a selection of typical Spanish desserts, but we found the fruit fill Sangria to be a sufficient spot of sweet for the meal.
Nothing could have possibly topped our tapas experience at La Paloma better than getting the bill. Having eaten at 22 Ships (and remained hungry afterwards), I prepared myself for a week ahead of eating only instant noodles to compensate for the cost of dinner, but it was shockingly affordable at under $230 per person.
I walked away from La Paloma with the intent to return, and to do so frequently.
La Paloma, 1/F, SoHo 189, 189 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun
Open weekends 12-4pm and Tue-Sun 6-11pm
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