G/F, Guardian House, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai HK
+852 2866 7900
Any culinary globe-trotter will have heard of the most famous restaurant in the world, El Bulli, and its head chef, also known as the king of Catalan cuisine, Ferran Adrià.
When El Bulli shut its doors in 2011, its disciples scattered far and wide across the culinary map, opening everything from neighbourhood diners to Michelin-starred restaurants. Singapore got a taste of the action when a team of alumni opened Catalunya in Marina Bay in 2012. One year later, Catalunya Hong Kong was born.
The result is a restaurant that channels the spirit of the original El Bulli, including a few dishes that pay direct homage to Ferran himself. The spherical ‘olives’, for instance, are a nod to the man who popularised molecular gastronomy, boasting a thin membrane that pops with concentrated olive flavour – usually served as an amuse-bouche to kick off the meal.
While it’s fun to bring back some El Bulli dishes, at its heart, Catalunya is less about molecular science, and more about home-style, traditional Catalan fare served with pride from those who learned from the best. Creativity is nurtured here, and each chef, whether El Bulli alum or not, brings something new to the table with solid technique and a deep understanding of the native ingredients.
Leading the charge is Head Chef, Ferran Tadeo, who trained under Ferran Adria, as well as famous Spanish chef and TV personality, José Andrés. Known for his creative flair, Ferran brings almost a decade of experience working in Michelin-starred kitchens to Catalunya, ensuring the five-year-old restaurant remains at the top of its game.
Take a seat in the grand, 5,000-sq.-ft. space and soak in the Spanish-inspired interiors, outfitted in vibrant red and mahogany wood as you peruse the tapas menu to start. The ‘pulpo a feira’ is a good way to kick off the meal – tender octopus grilled until slightly smoky, paired cleverly with potato spheres and a shower of sweet paprika. Follow this with the bright tomato tartare, a wonderful way to showcase the premium produce of the region with a simple drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of chopped chives.
Other dishes are taken straight from Basque country – there’s the gorgeous pairing of smoked sardines and goat cheese, Mediterranean red prawns that pop with the juicy flavour from the rich prawn heads, and stuffed chicken with pork, beef, dried fruits and black truffle. Elsewhere, juicy lobster rice, Segovian-style suckling pig and a range of paellas make sure you’ll leave with a thorough taste of Catalan country. Chase it all down with a well made cocktail or a glass of Cava, the Spanish equivalent to Champagne.
In Hong Kong’s cutthroat industry, five years is quite an achievement, especially for a restaurant located, as Catalunya is, in one of the city’s quieter thoroughfares. This is no restaurant you happen to stumble upon, but one you plan a special evening for – and to that end, it delivers without fail from start to finish, simultaneously doing its part to protect the legacy of one of history’s most revered restaurants.