It all started with veteran restaurateur Mr. Carmelo Lopez, a native Spaniard, who came to Asia in the 70s but felt a nostalgic pull towards the taste of Spanish cuisine. Olé was created from the craving for authenticity and has since grown to become a restaurant of genuine Spanish experience.
As soon as you step inside, you are greeted with a genuine touch of Spain, from the lemon yellow walls to the terracotta decorations reminiscent of the Mediterranean. Though a little on the dark side, the lighting is dimmed to recreate a romantic setting for diners to enjoy the live music from some talented guitarists. It’s a cozy atmosphere; one that will certainly remind you of genuine restaurants in Spain.
The Food – Classics
Led by Executive Chef Jesus Pascual, who was recruited direct from Madrid, the menu at Olé boasts a menu that oozes authentic dishes and flavors. Dishes that have become all-time favorites over the past 18 years include garlic shrimps, a traditional lobster paella, and a slow-roasted suckling pig.
The garlic shrimps are stir-fried with olive oil, just the right amount of garlic slices and onion before being heated in a traditional Spanish terracotta pot. The dish is served sizzling hot, with an irresistible smell of garlic instantly filling the area. The traditional lobster paella is certainly one for sharing with a number of people, as the serving size is generous. The lobster is cut into sizable chunks and mixed into the bomba rice with garlic, onion, squid and infused with saffron and a lobster bisque for that wonderful traditional finish. The rice was cooked to perfection, and the lobster had a full-bodied flavor to satiate all your seafood needs. Last, but certainly not least, is the suckling pig cooked in the Segovia way: slow roasted for three hours with just a pinch of salt. It’s juicy; it’s tender, and it’s crispy. It’s also served up in a unique way – you’ll witness the waiter cutting through the pork with a plate rather than a knife.
The Food – New Maritime Treasures
If you’re willing to move away from eating the all-time favorites, the new seafood dishes available garner much attention too. Three of the seven dishes that really stand out are the Basque-style spider crabs, the Atlantic king fish filet flame-grilled with fresh herbs and lemon crust, and the Galician goose barnacles.
Though the carapace may look intimidating, these spider crabs are filled with a stuffing made of crab roe, egg yolk, cream sauce, brandy and spices that are mixed into a spreadable paste. Spooning this onto the toasted homemade bread makes for a delicious dish that is not too strong in flavor.
For those not so keen on eating that much crab, lobster or prawns, the Atlantic king fish filet makes for a great alternative that is bursting with fresh, zesty flavor. The fish has a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is contrasted with the herb and lemon crust that complements the fish nicely.
The Galician goose barnacles are a delicacy from northwestern Spain and are peculiar looking things, to say the least. Found on rocks in shallow waters, the harvesting of these barnacles comes as a hazard – making them more treasured than any other. After boiling, they have a silky texture that is paired with a fresh saltwater taste. Just be sure to rip them open through the middle so that the liquid doesn’t hit you in the face.
Olé provides a wonderfully relaxed setting to enjoy some delicious Spanish cuisine of an authentic nature, and Chef Jesus Pascual has done an excellent job of incorporating some of the most genuine flavors and dishes to the Spanish food scene in Hong Kong.
|Overall stars (4/5): ★★★★||Atmosphere: ★★★★|
|Food: ★★★★★||Service: ★★★★|
|Opening hours: Mon – Fri 12pm – 3pm, 6:30pm – midnight; Sat 11:30am – 3pm, 6:30pm – midnight||Reservations: Call|
|Address: 1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24 – 30 Ice House Street, Central||Sound: Relaxed|
|Nearest tube station: Central||Price: $$ HKD|
|Telephone number: +852 2523 8624||Website: www.olespanishrestaurant.com.hk|
By Michaela Fulton