In 2006, a small grocery store named Pata Negra House opened on Second Street, Sai Ying Pun, in Hong Kong. Pata Negra House thrived on the demand for premium Spanish products, and it is now one of the biggest HK suppliers of Spanish hams, cold cuts and cheeses.
The brand is behind a new venture – the Ibérico Ham Cellar – which aims to be more than just a supplier of premium Ibérico ham. Pata Negra House Managing Director and Slicing Master Mathieu Djedid wants to connect with consumers in a more personal and meaningful way and has designed the Signature Experience as a multisensory tasting and learning journey.
The Tasting Room
We started by heading through the rustic arched doorway to the Tasting Room. A long, timber table was elegantly laid, with a black-footed (pata negra) leg of ham on one end, a log pile of salami and chorizo at the other and a selection of delicacies in between. It is here that Mathieu shared some history and background of what we were about to eat and guided us through the tasting experience.
Armed with a glass of cava, we tried three different types of Ibérico, plus bellota, or acorn-fed sausage. We loved the black chorizo called morcilla (an aged blood sausage). Mathieu explained to us the differences between lomo and lomito cuts, and we were able to compare chestnut- and acorn-fed versions of each side by side. Then, for good measure, we went back to compare the chorizos again.
On the cheeseboard was an organic Inanna cheese, a 15-month-aged Manchego and a truffle Manchego. All were outstanding, especially the truffle variety, which we normally find overwhelming. After that, we returned to the the chorizos.
To round off the tasting, there was sliced octopus prepared simply with olive oil and paprika, three types of Spanish olives and some serrano ham wrapped around honeydew melon.
A quick cava top-up, one last visit to the chorizos and we were ready for the cellar.
The Ibérico Ham Cellar
The wall of the tasting room slid open to reveal this hidden cellar; it’s beautifully designed and terribly impressive. This is where you learn about Spain’s finest collections of Ibérico ham, all of which are best eaten sliced freshly, in the correct manner appropriate to the section of the leg. The Slicing Master demonstrated, and we were introduced to five vintage hams from the Iberian Peninsula.
Amongst them, the 32 months is relatively mild and is best for beginners or for regular consumption; 60 months is the most refined Ibérico ham, with the longest curation time, giving off complex but elegant aromas; and 48 months chestnut-fed is the rarest, with only 1,400 legs available every year. Our favourite was the signature 48 months double-acorn-fed Ibérico ham bellota for its multilayered, rich, nutty flavours.
One we did not try was the Rubio Dorado (“golden pig”) ham, a single leg of which was hanging in a glass cage. This is a unique breed with special properties; it nearly became extinct, and there are only 120 legs available each year. It’s the most expensive ham in the world and is exclusively available at only three locations worldwide: Pata Negra House Group’s Ibérico Ham Cellar, city’super and Harrods in London.
The Ibérico Bar
Moving on to the Ibérico Bar, where we watched the chefs finish preparing an seven-course menu using some of the hams we had tried. Chef Heloise Fischbach from two-Michelin-starred restaurant ÉCRITURE designed the menu, and we were fortunate that she and Chef Joshua Ling prepared it for us on the day we visited.
The ultimate open kitchen, where Chef Ling flambéed the carabineros
The 7-course Ibérico Ham Cellar menu includes:
- Ibérico ham croquetas
- Morcilla potato galette
- 48 months Ibérico ham and artichoke salad
- Ibérico pork-bone bouillon
- Ibérico ham croque-monsieur
- Egg yolk in white sauce with Ibérico ham cubes
- Spanish red prawns (carabineros)
- Ibérico pork pluma steak
We have a difficult time choosing a favourite course. High on the list would be the Ibérico ham croquetas – the golden-fried, cheesy béchamel base is topped with thinly shredded Ibérico ham, herbs and lemon zest for a creamy and zesty contrast. Another winner is the stunning flamed carabineros – so incredibly juicy, it’s hard to believe they are not cooked in a broth.
The Ibérico pork steak is of such high quality that it’s able to be cooked rare, and it has the texture of a tender piece of beef. It’s served on a light citrus salsa with a sprinkling of a wonderfully aromatic chilli powder called espelette. Others in our group favoured the creamy egg with finely chopped Ibérico ham and mushroom in a thickened yolk and also the croque-monsieur on a soft and slightly sweet brioche bun.
With everything going on, remember to enjoy the wine too; a smooth Tempranillo from Rioja complements the meal.
Products on-site + Chef Fischbach, Chef Ling and Slicing Master Mathieu Djedid
The Signature Experience is very reasonably priced at $680 per person, and you can book on this link from Tuesday, 3 August. It’s an exciting experience, perfect for a group of six (and it’s slightly cheaper per head when booking an entire session). Whilst the experience includes cava in the Tasting Room and a glass of red wine with dinner, you are welcome to bring your own wine too. Confirm with the team when booking as the first bottle is currently corkage free.
After finishing the experience, you are able to get an immediate 20% discount on your purchases if you sign up to become a member. We found it impossible to resist taking some of these products home at a big discount.
This is not just another new place to go for dinner – it’s an experience you should book in with friends ASAP and pretend for a night that you are on holiday in Spain. It invoked that feeling, too long suppressed, of journeys to foreign places where we taste but also learn and experience. We gained a lot of knowledge, but we feel like we would learn just as much if we did it a second time – which we might!
The Ibérico Ham Cellar is located in San Po Kong near Diamond Hill, which is an industrial area, but it’s not inconvenient to get there. From HK Island, it takes just 20 minutes by car, and there is even a direct bus (#111 for the win). There’s the option to book an entire session for up to six people, and you can also organise corporate experiences.
Our feeling is that this is going to be tremendously successful and it will soon be hard to get a booking...
When: Tuesday–Friday, 6:30–8:30pm
Price: $680/person (single ticket); $3,980/group of up to 6 (update: can now top up to a maximum of 10 people for an additional charge of $660/person)
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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