Spanish cuisine is rich in culture and history spanning over hundreds of years to include conquests and defeats. Indeed, it is far more complex than most would’ve thought with almost 20 regional variations available across the nation.
The more popular variants include Andalusian (famous for gazpacho and Iberico ham), Catalan (known for its nut and red pepper-based Romesco sauce) and Valenciana for the creation of paella, the world-famous Spanish national dish of rice topped with vegetables and protein of sorts.
While we are all familiar with the idea of tapas, Spanish cuisine is more than just spicy chorizos and jamon. There are so much more to savour as you get your appetite running with smokey charred octopus, patatas bravas (fried potatoes with creamy aioli), croquettes, gambas al ajillo (Spanish garlic shrimps) and the irresistible churros.
Over the years, Spanish restaurants in KL have increasingly garnered a reputation as spots for Friday night hangouts and for group dinners — an amazing alternative to the usual Malaysian staples like dim sum and hotpot, which are usually perfect for sharing.
Here are seven top restaurants for the best Spanish dishes in KL.
(Featured image: Blu Water Studio)
Located in a quieter stretch along Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Cava is a cosy restaurant and bar that serves up both modern and traditional takes on Spanish food. Popular for dinner dates and special celebrations, Cava is known for its generous serving of tapas, soups, seafood, lamb and paella. Some of the must-try dishes include the prawns with chilli oil, patatas bravas with chilli padi pesto and stuffed piquillo peppers – because a little extra spice makes everything nice.
Cava, 71 Jalan Bangkung, Bukit Bandaraya, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2093 6637.
El Cerdo has been an established restaurant for true blue Spanish cuisine that focuses on Spanish pork. Every turn takes you from one piggy décor to another. The highlight is its roast suckling pig that’s tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Spanish favourites include paella, potatoes, jamon and Spanish omelettes.
El Cerdo Kuala Lumpur, 43 & 45 Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2145 0511.
If you love tapas, this is the place to be. Fresh ingredients in a spice mix make the best classic Spanish tapas that compliment the quasi-authentic restaurant design. Besides the vibrant Marisco Paella, try their sautéed garlic tiger prawns, avocado salad and baked herb mushrooms. Quench your thirst with their White Sangria or Red Sangria that promises a refreshing start to your dining experience.
Sentidos Gastro Bar and Dining, Feast Village Starhill Gallery, 181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2145 3385.
Pinchos is one of the first Spanish restaurants in KL, serving up authentic tapas and freshly flown specialty produce from Spain. Enjoy seasonal specials like artichokes, melons and octopus that will leave you asking for more. Sink your teeth into the mouth-watering tapas from fish croquettes to herby lamp chops, jamon Iberico to patatas bravas.
Pinchos Tapas Bar, 18 Changkat Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2145 8482.
Undeniably one of the best and most authentic Spanish restaurants in KL, dining in Marta’s Kitchen comes with a warning: make your reservations before hand. Here, a delicious mélange of Spanish favourites are on hand, from paella (a choice of saffron infused or squid ink version), pulpo a la Gallega (spiced octopus dish), and pimientos de Padron (charred Spanish green peppers). A visit to Marta’s Kitchen will never be complete without trying the patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo in their mouthwatering list of tapas.
Marta’s Kitchen, The Signature, 3 Jalan Sri Hartamas, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, +603-6411 0832.
Tucked in the most vibrant part of Bangsar, Mercat is popular as an after-hours joint for good wine and great tapas in an upbeat atmosphere. Headed by Barcelona-native Chef David Caral, enjoy the flavours of Spanish food with an array of small plates (platillos) from vegetable ones to meat-loaded choices. Finish off your Catalan inspired dining with the classic dessert of crema Catalana, a Spanish version of a creme bruleé.
Mercat Barcelona Gastrobar, 51, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2201 5288.
Also in the bustling Telawi square, El Meson puts together traditional Spanish fare with a modern flair. The menu is quite extensive with a wide selection of tapas (order the chorizo, por favor), cold cuts, salads and mains. If you like your chargrilled meats, go for El Meson’s sticky short Iberico pork ribs or the succulently grilled squid.
El Meson, 61-63, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2282 8290.