Hong Kong has seen a prolific number of Spanish restaurant openings in the past year or two, some of which have survived and others not. Unlike many other who claimed for their innovative Spanish nouveau gastronomy, nothing still beats the authenticity of the Ole Restaurant who set its foot in Hong Kong 17 years ago and yet receiving strong support from their return diners. mylifestylenews spends a delightful evening there and now we could understand why……
From the outside it is a non-descript frontage on a quiet street near the Foreign Correspondents Club at the top of Ice House Street in Central. Opened since 1998 by a native Spanish Carmelo Lopez who came to Asia in the 70’s who was still nostalgically attached to the richness and exquisite taste of the cuisine of his motherland. Once you enter the restaurant, you will immediately feel transported to Spain, with rustic stucco walls and arches, flagstone tile floors and decorative touches such as Andalusian ceramics and artworks to give it a truly authentic Spanish ‘flavour’. Ole was created from this crave for authenticity with the genuine touch of Spain. As told, the light fixture and the decorative potteries were directly flown in from Spain since its opening.
To add more to the ambience, there is also live guitar music which is discreet and very much in the background. Some may say it is a little chintzy in fitout, but if you have been to Spain, you will find such places as this quite regularly and most importantly they do deliver on the food front. It was gracefully exhilarates a relaxing and enjoyable Mediterranean mood.
Different section with decorative item on displays are flown in from Spain since its opening
We were the first to arrive for the evening and we thought it would be a very quiet night but how wrong we were, as the restaurant was packed with in the hour and still going strong when we left three hours later. The general wait staff were efficient and attentive and the Managers very knowledgeable about the extensive variety of food and wine.
The menu has a lot of favorites, so it was difficult to single out just a few dishes, so we did it the Spanish way by ordering a lot of Tapas to share and then went for broke on some must haves for the main courses.
The Pimientos del Padron (Deep Fried Spanish Padron Peppers) imported from Spain which were so fragrant and utterly delicious. Simplicity is the best!
The Gambas al ajillo (Garlic Shrimps) were just perfect and the juice was heavenly, so we ordered another serving (we drank the left over juice as if it was an aperitif). The authenticity of this dish says it all. We are backed in Spain!
The Pinchito Flamed-Grilled A3 Wagyu Beef Skewer with a herb sauce and mustard on the side as a new entry to the existing menu, also delicious, but the meat was not as tender as we expected and this could only be one of the not-so Spanish's menu that we had experienced.
A plate of “Joselito Gran Reserve” 48 month aged Iberico ham sliced thinly and the flavor was intense and divine. A raw-cut of ham is not really my priority but this particular 48 months aged is something you may want to learn how to get your hands off. It is quite unstoppable when you started!
The Chopitos en su tinta rellenos de gambas y almendras (Baby Squids in ink sauce stuffed with shrimp & almond) were so tender and the black ink sauce not overpowering with a saltiness that created a real seaside flashback. A daring challenge if you love the black ink sauce.
Almejas al ajillo (Clams Andalusian style) which had very plump and juicy meat that was incredibly flavorful. The whole garlic adds extra kick to the sauce. A highly recommended dish!
The Crema de ceps al vino blanco (Porchini mushroom soup) is also another new add-on to the menu. This intensely flavorful thick creamy broth fills the air with its own fragrant, earthy aroma. Love it!
Ingredients and expert in cooking are the key here.The Iberico Pork Cheeks cooked slowly in red wine which packed a lot of flavor and were just perfect in texture and tenderness.We could not get over how consistent each dish was and how each flavor matched that exceeded our expectations. This new dish is now being introduced in the new menu.
The mains were equally triumphant and how could one eat Spanish food without trying the Cochinillo asado a la Segovia (Slow roasted Suckling pig Segovia way), we insist. On arrival at the table, the skin was beautifully crisp and exuded that sheen that we have come to expect from such a special geographic location as Segovia, a beautiful town famous for its Cochinillo. The taste was sensational and reminded us how good this dish can be and should not be missed, with perfectly cooked meat that had so much juice and flavor. 30 minutes in preparation is certainly worth the wait. If you have not have any Cochinillo from Segovia before, we dare to challenge you for your comments on what other restaurants could possibly served and failed you.
Next, the Paella Serrana (Iberico pork, mushroom and chorizo paella) was another surprise from the menu. Unfortunately, due to diners’ feedback and "demand", they have deliberately chosen not to use Bomba rice (a special Spanish rice that is a staple of good paella making) but to use the supreme Japanese rice. As expected, to our disappointment, it is never the same. However, the flavor and juiciness of the ingredients was right to the occasion. We could not fault Ole but only to the ignorant diners of their lack of knowledge for Spanish gastronomy experiences in the past. We can’t help but wonder, have they ever been to Spain and have the authentic paella experience before to ask for such changes of ingredients without paying much respect from its origin?
By this point we had run out of room, so no space left for desserts, but we will be more strategic on our next visit. To complement our food, we chose a Spanish Ribera Del Duero wine which was superb and quite affordable, which they import themselves, as are a number of other wines on the list. We have been disappointed with previous visits to other supposedly authentic Spanish restaurants in Hong Kong but selling mainly their ambience but without a soul in their culinary despite being a protegee from El Bulli. In fact, shame of them even mentioning it. Everything gelled from arrival to the last morsel of paella, plus the food was generally beyond our expectations and brought back some great fond memories of food flavours when we were last in Spain. Muchas gracias Ole Spanish Restaurant, estaremos de regreso pronto. Viva Espana!!
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Cochinillo asado a la Segovia
Chopitos en su tinta rellenos de gambas y almendras
1/F Shun Ho Tower
24-30 Ice House Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel:+852 2537 8856