We talk tapas traditions and sharing staples with newly-opened Spanish restaurant Chueca’s executive chef Jordi Vallés.
You might have noticed that tapas is going through a bit of a popularity boom in Hong Kong at the moment, with both new tapas restaurants and tapas-themed feasts at established eateries seducing palates across the Fragrant Harbour. To get the lowdown on Spain’s greatest culinary export, and on one new opening – Noho’s Chueca – we talk to the venue’s executive chef Jordi Vallés.
Tell us about Chueca – what does it bring to the Hong Kong dining scene?
Chueca combines quality dining in a beautifully designed restaurant with a cool atmosphere and very reasonable prices.
Hong Kong is no stranger to Spanish restaurants – what will Chueca offer that’s unique?
We are very proud of our food selection, stunning design, and friendly service. Like every tapas place, we suggest sharing everything, and that’s why our portions and prices are very reasonable in order for customers to get a full experience by ordering eight tapas for two people and not paying a fortune. Come see our brunch and you will see for yourself.
How do you find the city’s current Spanish cuisine offering and what’s missing?
The Spanish dining scene is fantastic, but we should have more options. Hong Kong is big enough to have more than 100 good Spanish restaurants. Chueca will offer one of the best seafood brunches in the city. I always miss good seafood in almost all the brunches I visit; I like proper seafood boiled the same day with the right ‘court bouillon’ and while that’s easy to say it’s difficult to find. Nice benedicts, typical Spanish starters, a nice steak if you want, or a juicy roasted chicken – I like simple things that are well executed.
Tell us about some of the most authentic dishes and ingredients we will find on your launch menu.
There are plenty of nice dishes, even if our menu is not a Spanish culinary Bible. I love to recommend our Lobster Rice, packed with seafood flavour, or our Rusa, a potato salad typical of Spain, although every region has its own touch. Our one is topped with Ikura as I love salmon roe’s umami flavour. Our croquettes are also fantastic – classic, creamy, full of flavour. The canelon is a very traditional dish in my hometown, and I also top it with shaved truffles. The boneless lamb with green mojo is also an authentic dish.
Our best ingredients are the Japanese tuna, the lobster, all our cold cuts from Arturo Sanchez, the “Carabineros”, our David Herve oysters, and our gem lettuce from Murcia. Our USDA Ribeye also has a fantastic marbling and flavour. We use a lot of imported products from Spain (including almost a hundred liters of extra virgin olive oil per month) and that also makes the difference in dishes like our Bikini sandwich, which is made with one of the best Sobrassada and Tetilla cheese from Spain.
The delivery of ‘tapas’ in HK tends to vary greatly – what is tapas to you and what kind of experience should it offer diners?
For me, it’s family, friendship, and sharing…it should be a moment to taste different types of food while having a fun conversation and enjoying a glass of wine with your beloved ones. It’s the time when you want to snack on something and it could also happen any time of the day, making it quite similar to dim sum culture in Asia.
The dishes at Chueca will be complemented by a series of Spanish-inspired cocktails – what are your favourites from the list?
My favorite cocktails are the Spanish Manhattan, the Paloma, the Sangria, and the Chueca Martini
What’s one dish we can’t miss when we visit?
I think you should not leave Chueca without trying our tuna tartar, truffled mushroom croquettes, the popular bikini, our O-toro, Lobster Rice, and our flan and cheesecake. This would be my selection for your first visit. However, if I can only choose one it would be the Lobster Rice.
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