2/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
+852 3792 0129
Call it what you will – sharing, tapas or small plates – there’s no denying communal dining has graduated from a food trend to a cuisine in its own right. While the idea of tapas has been adopted the world over, at heart it’s still a solid Spanish affair – one that is given the respect and authenticity it deserves at Central tapas bar, Cassio.
Tucked away in LKF Tower, this lively restaurant and bar is a bastion of Spanish gastronomy in the heart of Hong Kong, bringing to the city a cool taste of Catalonia and dishes that do justice to the best tapas joints around Spain. From pan con tomate to Spanish tortillas and crispy croquetas, you’ll find it all here and then some – products of an accomplished Spanish kitchen with a reputation that precedes it.
If you’ve ever been to London, you might already be familiar with the topnotch tapas served at Cassio – the kitchen is run by London-based tapas bar legends Barrafina. The collaboration came about through a serendipitous encounter between dragon-i group’s founder, Gilbert Yeung, and Barrafina’s owners, Sam and Eddie Hart, with the hospitality entrepreneurs deciding to join efforts to bring the same convivial, communal-style of dining to Hong Kong.
The result of their vision is a restaurant that exudes warmth and hospitality with no small degree of Latin flair, thanks to an up-tempo soundtrack and colourful interiors. A blend of vintage and modern elements make for a groovy and electric atmosphere, backed by a wide-ranging soundtrack that flits from hip-hop to reggae and everything in between.
Designed by architect, Fabrizio Casiraghi, the space is broken into three sections: the main dining room, lounge and outdoor terrace. Boasting a long, onyx-topped bar counter and comfortably spaced tables, the main dining area is a cross between a sleek restaurant and jazzy nightclub, with mood lighting, lacquer and marble accents, and retro wallpaper motifs reflecting an overlying floral theme. The piece de resistance is a spiralling bronze ceiling chandelier inspired by the Lutrario Dance Hall in Italy, featuring dozens of brightly coloured bulbs reflecting off the opalescent floor.
A cosy lounge area provides an intimate spot for sharing snacks and pre- or post-dinner drinks, opening out to an alfresco garden hung with fairy lights and lined with lush planters. With tropical-inspired patio furniture in a vibrant mix of blues and greens, it’s undoubtedly one of the best hidden spots in Central to bask in a warm summer evening.
Wherever you choose to bunker down, you’ll want to start your night with a glass of sangria or a creative tipple. Named after the oscillating cool and hot weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean, El Ni.o and La Ni.a do justice to their name. The first is a fiery brand of Jack Daniels with brown sugar syrup and orange bitters, while the second boasts a cooling effect with Belvedere vodka, raspberry and vanilla syrup. The Esmeralda is also a favourite, a refreshing combination of pisco, jasmine tea, lime juice, Peychaud’s bitters and egg white.
Enjoy the cocktails and then turn your attention to the food executed by Head Chef, Daniel Benitorafe Rivera. An industry veteran with a long tenure spent in Barcelona, Daniel trained with the chefs at London’s Barrafina prior to Cassio’s launch, learning to faithfully recreate dishes such as Alaskan crab-stuffed zucchini flowers, slow-cooked suckling pig and spicy patatas bravas slathered in chipotle chilli sauce.
Seafood is a major theme on the menu, and a rewarding one at that. If you’ve ever doubted the superiority of Spanish Carabineros prawns, one bite of Cassio’s version will have you eating your words. The succulent, juicy red flesh of the prawn combined with the briny juice of the head is a dizzying taste of the ocean. Temper the bite with Cassio’s signature tortillas de patata (potato tortilla), featuring Japanese runny eggs spread with semi-soft Ibérico chorizo.
Desserts run the gamut from salty to sour to sweet: try the creamy tarta de queso cheesecake dotted with fresh fruits, the Macedonia with wafer-thin filo pastry paired with Chantilly cream or the deep-fried churros, a perennial pleasure doused in chocolate sauce and homemade ice cream.
After dinner, take your drinks out to the thatched roof garden terrace, where overhead lights twinkle and a soundtrack of R&B, disco, house, Latin jazz, reggae and salsa plays well into the night. Armed with a creative cocktail list, stellar bites and a groovy soundtrack, Cassio is a one-stop destination to keep you entertained all night long, basking in an authentic taste of Catalan by way of London and Hong Kong