Hong Kong has long held a love affair with Spanish cuisine and its small-plates, sharing-style dining format. The original Catalunya on Oi Kwan Road was one of a number of restaurants which helped to kickstart the tapas dining craze here in Hong Kong; helmed by alumni of the famed elBulli establishment, Catalunya introduced Hongkongers to a range of classic tapas interjected with hints of molecular modernism, from ‘spherical olives’ to oysters with ‘fake lemon’.
With the restaurant’s relocation to IFC Mall in late 2017 and rebrand to La Rambla by Catalunya — the owners (the same group behind Elephant Grounds and Wagyumafia) have successfully kept the core DNA of the brand while also introducing a more relaxed and accessible version of the beloved restaurant with more room (literally and figuratively speaking) to grow.
Spanning over 5,000 square feet, La Rambla by Catalunya’s stylish IFC digs come with enviable views of the harbour and Kowloon’s towering skyline in the distance. With its spacious and light-filled interiors, La Rambla feels even more so like a jaunt around the sunny beaches of Barcelona, with the adjoining terrace providing an ideal perch for guests to while away the afternoon with pitchers of sangria and live bands playing afternoons and evenings.
To mark the start of warm weather season, the Spanish restaurant has just launched a new spring menu courtesy of Executive Chef Ferran Tadeo, which incorporates a number of handpicked seasonal and rare ingredients sourced not just from Spain, but also from Japan and throughout Asia. Weaving international ingredients into Catalonian flavours hints at the type of culinary creativity present in La Rambla’s DNA, while a focus on simpler presentations and letting ingredients speak for themselves has attracted a new wave of La Rambla fans.
Powered by flame and infused with smoke, the new dishes make heavy use of the Josper Grill, a dual function charcoal-fired grill which serves as the centrepiece of the kitchen. Highlights include the Galician octopus, where the tender tentacles are crisped on the grill and arranged on a bed of truffled potato and burnt celeriac cream with migas, cured egg yolk and paprika. Papada Joselito, a naturally cured Spanish pancetta, lends scores of flavour and umami richness to the dish.
Catalan butifarra sausage with parmesan rice is a cheeky blend of East and West with grill-fired Iberico sausage paired with creamy rice, topped with briny lobes of creamy Hokkaido uni and crisp celery. Also new from the meats section is the spice-rubbed pigeon (HK$380), a 12-days dry-aged pigeon from Racan de Verry in France, which achieves a crackling skin on the grill marinated with chef Ferran’s proprietary blend of spices.
For those who fancy a light snack on the terrace or a round of tapas accompanied by cocktails and tunes, La Rambla has cleverly revamped their ever-popular bikini sandwiches (HK$120): stuffed with crunchy suckling pig and spiced mango chutney, the acidity from the fresh fruit effectively cuts through the fattiness of the pork. For seafood lovers, the butterflied Spanish red prawn (HK$220) is not to be missed, with extra large red carabineros butterflied to expose their sumptuous roe and served with rustic bread to mop up the juices. Finally, for dessert, the kitchen has replaced the traditional chocolate cake with a molten lava baked brie cheesecake (HK$95), with a gooey mess of soft cow’s milk cheese served with tart wild berry jam.
Whether dining inside the art-filled dining room or lounging out on the terrace, La Rambla’s sleek interiors paired with the mouthwatering new menu is a sure-fire combination to appease food and drink lovers this season, offering a vibrant and authentic taste of Catalan. One of the original torchbearers of small plates dining, La Rambla by Catalunya is proudly carrying the tapas trend forward with their creative new spring offerings.
What’s more, the restaurant will be launching a new Chef’s Table Menu starting in mid-June, with different food options reflecting a more refined and sophisticated taste. Advance bookings will be required for this new experience, so be sure to call ahead for more information and to reserve your seats.
La Rambla by Catalunya, 3071-73, 3/F, IFC Mall, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2661 1161