First Look: Tapas and Paella Bar MAJO

First Look: Tapas and Paella Bar MAJO

A contemporary Spanish paradise taking over Staunton Street 

by:  
Ashley Tang  Ashley Tang  on 9 Jan '22


MAJO brightens Hong Kong’s Spanish scene, offering an affordable tapas and paella menu and drink list. The welcoming restaurant is airy, with large French doors and a spacious patio making it a great spot for dining out at any time of the day, especially if people watching is your thing.

MAJO’s kitchen is headlined by Executive Chef Alberto Sancassani, who boasts 15 years of Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine experience. Chef Sancassani has worked at some of Valencia and Ibiza’s most popular restaurants, as well as in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi in Asia.


The drinks

I was surprised to see a large range of imported Spanish wines ranging from $300–500 per bottle (they’re usually priced sky-high).

The cocktails are a must-order here, with vermouth cocktails ($65), gin and tonics ($100) and sangria ($65/glass or $275/jug) flowing.


With the sangria, Rosada (rosé with rum) is bold in flavour with a beautiful pink hue, while Blanco (white wine with gin) is the lightest, perhaps a bit too delicate for my taste. In the middle is Tinto, mixed with cognac.


The Cocchi Vermouth di Torino is accented with notes of rhubarb, cocoa and bitter orange, with a slightly bitter ending. Traditionally, it’s served on the rocks or with soda water, garnished with an olive or citrus twist. The anchovy garnish here is a bit off-putting in terms of both the appearance and aroma.


The tapas

The croquetas de jamon ($120 for 3), or ham croquettes, are a classic tapas, offering a crunchy exterior and super-soft, creamy filling with smoked bacon. I could eat so many of these babies!


The pulpo y papas arrugadas a los dos mojos ($160) features grilled, slightly charred octopus with mojo sauce in two colours, green and red. Served with a light whipped potato foam, this dish is great for sharing. The mojo sauce, heavy on the orange and garlic, contains coriander in the green version, while the red is made with bell pepper and sweet paprika.


The pan tumaca ($60; +$60 to add 18-month jamón de Cebo) is a must-order. Grilled crystal bread, otherwise known as Spanish ciabatta, is topped with the pulp of fresh oxheart heirloom tomatoes and luscious slices of Spanish ham, drizzled with olive oil. Oftentimes, simple is best!


The paella

We tried the fideuà ($170) and Valenciana ($150). One paella order is perfect to share between three or four people.


Fideuà is similar to paella, made with pasta instead of rice. It contains a medley of seafood – clams, squid, prawns, mussels – cooked in a tomato-based sauce. The noodles were soft, with a bit of that delightful crunch, known as socarrat, on the bottom and sides of the hot pan.


The Valenciana paella (named after the Spanish city of Valencia) is served entirely authentically, containing chicken, rabbit and snails, French and white beans and rosemary – MAJO is the only restaurant in Hong Kong to do so. Unfortunately, on our visit, the meats were overcooked, making them tough and chewy, but the paella itself was well executed and flavourful.


Verdict

The value for money at MAJO at high. Spanish food isn’t cheap in this city, but MAJO makes authentic tapas and paella approachable and affordable. With a good Spanish wine list, vermouth cocktails and sangria being served, MAJO is one to put on your go-to list for a casual meal out, ideal for groups of friends.


22 Staunton Street, SoHo, Central, 2529 3001, book online


This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.


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Ashley Tang

Ashley Tang

The perfect balance of sweetness and tang.