You would never expect a destination restaurant to be sandwiched in between a former techno club and The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, nor assume much action was occurring behind its stocky wooden door. I was proven wrong at Ole.

Ole Spanish Restaurant is a rarity in the city’s dining scene, surviving (and thriving) beyond a series of unfortunate events: pandemics, protests, economic downturns, and Hong Kongers who are too lazy to trek beyond the familiar confines of Soho.

Since 1998, Carmelo Lopez’s restaurant hasn’t changed one bit. The terracotta tiles, yellow walls, warm light fixtures, Spanish pottery, charming service, and imported wine bewitch guests, ushering them through a portal into a world of Madrid inside Hong Kong.

Ole Spanish Restaurant review

If there’s an edible Hong Kong story to pour over, it’s this one. My friend and I each manned ourselves with a jagged knife and fork and dived into the meal. Ole is notably mellow and umami-forward, as you will come to find out.

After the server plated our table with a basket of sourdough bread, creamy potatoes, and olives, the Spanish padrón peppers (HKD90) arrived, deep-fried in olive oil for our pleasure, dusted in some salt, and served alongside a tomato salsa.

Ole Spanish Restaurant review
Spanish padrón peppers

A classic on any Spanish table, padrón peppers bring a good balance of peppery and chilli aromas (not spice). The salsa is appropriate to wash over the peppers with some acid. I wish there was more salt shared over the tapas dish to bring out the flavours from the peppers’ charred skin.

Talking about umami, next we shared the porcini mushroom croquettes (HKD120), topped with truffle aioli. Mushy on the inside and crisp outside, each of the four croquettes is creamy and salty, with a big emphasis on the earthiness of the mushroom.

Ole Spanish Restaurant review
Porcini mushroom croquettes

New on Ole’s spring 2024 menu is the glorious earthy-salty-juicy golden canelón partridge (HKD220), wrapped with a sharing of porcini mushrooms, foie gras, and a truffle béchamel.  

I had never had partridge before, only referencing the bird sitting plump in a pear tree during Christmas time, so savouring the dish was special. The partridge has a duck-like flavour, the mushrooms are intensely earthy, and the truffle ties the umami marriage together.

Alongside the expansive tapas, paella, and mains, Ole holds a wide variety of imported Spanish wine, sangria mixes, chilled beer, and cute cocktails. 

Ole Spanish Restaurant review
Baked whole sole fish

On a tired Tuesday, we escaped booze for two Kiwi Saline (HKD95) and sangria (HKD95) mocktails, vibrant with tangy and cinnamony notes respectively. We didn’t have the live guitar band grace our table on the night, but they provided a much-needed ambience that’s now unmistakably missing at other venues around town. 

Our server suggested we order the baked whole sole fish (HKD680), one of three new mains on the spring menu. Presented tableside before being surgically diced with sharings of potato and courgette, the fish glistens underneath the soft ceiling lighting.

We were slightly let down after our plates arrived with the fish swimming in olive oil, overpowering the light taste of the sole. On a rosier note, when dodging the oil, the bilbaína sauce brings out vinegar, butter, light chilli, and pepper notes that complement the firm flesh. 

Ole Spanish Restaurant review
Leche frita

Dessert came our way, and we were treated to the pear confit (HKD95) and leche frita (HKD98), a glorious Spanish dessert featuring the traditional fried milk slab.

The pear dish is smoky and sweet as highlighted, along with deep tones of port wine and cinnamon. We loved the texture of the milky custard and the additional sweet touches from the creamy vanilla ice cream and toffee reduction, forcing us to salivate.

Our verdict of Ole Spanish Restaurant

Some Hong Kong restaurants barely make it past five years of service, whilst many can’t even finish a year. Ole Spanish Restaurant has stood tall for a quarter of a century with its hearty plates of Spanish food and generous pours of wine. The new menu additions complement the rustic classics. Next time, I am coming back for Ole’s salty and sour tapas bites!

Ole Spanish Restaurant, 1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24–30 Ice House Street, Central, 2523 8624, book here

Order this: Ole spicy potatoes, Ibérico ham, canelón with partridge, pear confit
Menu: Ole á-la-carte menu 
Price for two: HKD500–750
Atmosphere: charming and uniquely Spanish. The guitar-playing and singing match Ole’s classic food profile 
Perfect for: lengthy dinners with a healthy sharing of red wine and carby food

This review is intended to offer an individual perspective on the dining experience and should not be considered as a definitive judgement of the restaurant’s overall quality or reputation. The views expressed in this review are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions of Foodie.

Rubin Verebes is the Managing Editor of Foodie, a culinary connoisseur, and guiding force behind the magazine's delectable stories. With a knack for cooking up mouthwatering profiles, crafting immersive restaurant reviews, and dishing out tasty features, Rubin tells the great stories of Hong Kong's dining scene.

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