Spain is known for its beautiful food and wine and animated people. Its tapas culture of eating has worked its way around the world, with many other cuisines adopting the style, shrinking the portions for sharing and often ending up in consummate chaos without the easy rhythm the Spanish manage so effortlessly. It’s easy to love Spanish-style dining – it’s non-committal, but it can easily turn into hours at the table pecking at various dishes over wine and conversation.
Pica Pica has the feel of a local, with its massive open windows overlooking the excitement of the Sheung Wan streets right next to historic Western Market. You might see someone you know and pop in for a quick plate of tapas at the bar overlooking the kitchen – it’s that kind of welcoming place, with sweet flourishes like the old sherry casks that sit on the bar ageing the sangria and giving the taste that little something extra.
We’ve been fans of Chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona ever since he won our Foodie Forks Chef of the Year award back in 2013 for his impressive work at BCN. He had spent many years previous to that developing his skills at several Michelin-starred restaurants before landing on these shores, working at high-profile restaurants in the city. Pica Pica represents the foods that the chef’s grandmother cooked as he was growing up.
Chef Sanuy is from Lleida, an olive-oil-producing town outside Barcelona, where the extra-virgin olive oil he uses at Pica Pica originates – and it’s the exact reason that this simple tomato bread ($30) completely rocked our taste buds. It’s literally just tomato and olive oil on bread, yet it was explosively good.
The croquettes ($15 each) are bigger than they look, a solid two bites. You can get them in either Ibérico ham or squid with aioli, pictured above, which were creamy and inky on the inside.
It may seem a lot to pay for a three-bite red prawn hot dog ($120) – that is, until you taste it, and no, you won’t want to share it. The prawn head is delivered so that you can dress your sarnie with its sweet sauce, as you find yourself spacing out the bites to rhapsodise on its soft, deep deliciousness. It ultimately feels like it would be incredibly good value on a repeat visit, given the amount of time we’ve spent thinking about this one since.
If you’re a sucker for suckling pig ($165), you’re gonna melt like sorbet on a hot day for this one. Sweet potato purée provides the crucial crux for this flatbed of squeal appeal. It’s a good size for two for a small plate, but it’s admittedly priced on the steeper side.
This Wagyu beef, oysters and apple sorbet ($TBC) is Chef Sanuy’s raw version of surf and turf, but it’s currently only served as a special. There should be a campaign to put this one on the menu: #pleaseputitonthemenuedgar.
The signature Catalan dish of fideuà ($85/small; $150/big) is a fisherman’s take on paella made with noodles in place of rice, dotted with rich dollops of aioli and chunks of cuttlefish. Fideuà is a pan of punchy flavours and wouldn’t personally be my top choice on a menu (don’t shoot me!). However, this version came with a stunning presentation and crisp tops to the noodles. My colleague who had dined at Pica Pica with her husband has this dish down as his absolute favourite of them all, so although a polarising dish for our little test group’s particular taste buds, Chef Sanuy’s fideuà was indeed beautifully delivered and expertly prepared.
Perfectly light Catalan cream foam ($50) with a hidden centre of ice cream and a crisp sugar shell on top – this one does not photograph as sexy as it tasted.
As mentioned above, Chef Sanuy’s home town produces olive oil, and he reminisces on his mother generously using olive oil in every dish from his childhood, even the desserts. The chef’s chocolate ending is an ode to his mama. Golden, grassy extra-virgin olive oil and salt complement the dark chocolate and hazelnut ($70), and we can’t help but feel that this is one indulgence to feel quite good about indulging in, given that these two ingredients are particularly healthy for the heart. It’s also fair to say that we can spin a great deal of yarn within our own reasoning to find a way to feel good about eating most desserts.
So, Pica Pica. Well, it could get pricey in there, but we like that you can dip in for a couple small plates at the bar and a jug of sangria and easily not spend a fortune – or you could decide to settle in for a splurge-worthy meal with a great vibe that feels like you’re amongst friends. Sprouting from a culture that revolves around food and the enjoyment of it, Pica Pica treads that particularly Spanish fine line of both lively and leisurely that makes dining such a pleasure. They’ve also just started doing lunch and are soon to be adding Sunday brunch to their repertoire.
In case you couldn’t tell from the love letter above, we adored Pica Pica.
317–321 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, 2811 988, 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.
For more reviews like this, like Foodie on Facebook