Bringing a little slice of Spain to Hong Kong, Chueca, named after the central city district of Madrid that’s popular for its tapas bars, recently opened its doors on Gough Street. The buzzy establishment is founded by Horacio and Qinjie Moreu, a husband-and-wife team who are new to the Hong Kong F&B scene. The couple met in Shanghai and have a background in finance and architecture, but their combined love of good eating brought them to open their first restaurant here.
The inviting blue-and-white interior, paired with pale, natural wooden tones, creates a relaxing holiday atmosphere. Designed by Yuki Yasukagawa of Design East, the airy dining room features a long, marble outfacing table that spans the entire length of the restaurant, extending the convivial ambience out onto the street.
Chef Jordi Vallés is the man behind the menu. He moved recently from his role at Pirata Group’s The Optimist and was also the executive chef at several of Aqua Group’s restaurants.
Our tasting began with cool glasses of strawberry basil smash ($70), a refreshing mocktail with an aromatic herbal undertone.
The truffled mushroom croquettes ($60 for 2) are topped with paper-thin slices of fresh black truffle. These arrived piping hot and had a crunchy exterior and gooey, rich interior.
The bikini sandwich ($130), a classic Spanish tapas favourite, is smeared with a jam of chorizo and cheese and drizzled with truffle honey.
Not part of the main menu, the specials’ board featured a fruity tapas of lobster and passion fruit ($100 for 2) that we just couldn’t resist. The corn nuts added a surprising crunch to the sweet, tangy combo.
The tuna tartare ($120 for 4) comes in small cracker cups that reminded us of the Indian dish panipuri. Each crunchy saucer has a bed of avocado mash topped with lean tuna and salmon roe. Although this dish is lean and clean, we wished it had more vibrant, contrasting flavours.
The Galician-style octopus ($190), served with paprika-dusted baked potatoes steeped in extra-virgin olive oil, was incredibly tender. The potatoes soak up plenty of flavour from the seasoning and match the octopus’ tenderness.
The Chef’s canelón ($180) is an indulgent dish of minced beef, pork and chicken, all rolled up in a pasta sheet that’s drenched in a porcini béchamel sauce and crowned with shaved black truffle. The creamy, aromatic combination makes for decadent comfort eating.
The slow-cooked lamb shoulder ($190), rolled into a medallion shape and topped with mojo verde
alongside pumpkin purée, was flavourful and tender. The lamb had been cooked until the connective tissue had broken down to addictive, sticky gooeyness. We just wished there were more of this dish to enjoy, especially considering the price.
The gambas in garlic-chilli olive oil ($160) arrived at the table with a little too much oil and not enough seasoning. Spanish dishes traditionally veer on the saltier side, but this dish would have benefited from an extra sprinkling of salt, as well as more garlic and chilli.
The homemade flan de nata ($80) is silky smooth. We particularly enjoyed the abundance of natural vanilla flavour that permeates this luscious dessert.
The Basque cheesecake ($90), topped with raspberry jam, is another creamy treat not to be missed – one of the best versions of this trendy Spanish dessert that we’ve tried in Hong Kong.
We love the sociable vibe of Chueca and can see this restaurant adding another layer of cool to the Gough Street neighbourhood, alongside other popular establishments like BEDU, CENSU and Little Bao. The dishes are on the pricier side when compared to their relatively small portion sizes, but the restaurant was packed during our weekday lunch tasting, so they must be doing something right. They also serve up a delicious-looking weekend brunch ($588/person) that includes a seafood platter, sharing tapas, a main and dessert.
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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