Who likes a Bulli boy?
The hype around Catalunya is pretty much centred around the calibre of its el Bulli alumni staff (a former head waiter is part of the team in HK, while the original restaurant in Singapore bagged el Bulli’s former restaurant manager and chef).
Hence, if you want a booking you might wanna decide now if you’re gonna be hungry in a month’s time, cos that’s pretty much the waiting time for a table. Unless, of course, you opt for turning up as soon as it opens at 6.30pm and nabbing a seat at the bar.
Having sat in the dining room and bar, I reckon the latter is a good option. The high-stooled counter is nice, you still get the benefits of the vampiric design (when nosferatu was rocking Medieval chic not his Scandanavian-Cullen look); it’s all chunky dark woods, low-lit with bulky statement lighting, maroon leather panelling and upholstery but without the fuckery of a month-long wait list.
This kind of anal discipline, is also carried through in their approach to their food. The dishes here are precise, balanced and un-erring. It’s also pretty fucking expensive.
As ever I drank like the bastard child of Oliver Reed and a fish; a Drewski cocktail was reminiscent to a Manhattan, sweet and strong with cocoa; and grapefruit bitters that tickled the tongue with astringency. Loved this.
An Old Fashioned Loverboy despite the kinda filthy name, was super clean HK$160. It’s got absinthe and tequila, tempered with chocolate and cinnamon. Depth and belt.
White anchovies HK$110, Iberico HK$180 and Wagyu ham HK$140 were moist, full in flavour and a pain in the purse.
Spherical ‘olives’ HK$15 for one, were reconsituted from olive juices/ oil and gelatine. A fun little ball that pops in the mouth releasing a viscous, fragrant liquid of olives. A fleeting indulgence.
The bikini HK$115 looked bleh; thin white bread sandwiches. But fuck me, they were delicious. Fluffy buttery bread, filled with a ratio of cheese, ham and truffle that sat nicely on the palate and were umami packed. Three lots were ordered, yeah, we crossed the line… the bikini line.
Avocado and lobster roll HK$160 was a beautiful, slinky-looking dish finished with salmon roe but didn’t rock my world.
Tortilla de trampo HK$85, a more traditional Spanish omelette was gooey and full of flavour. The modern version, named ‘the other tortilla’, HK$95 came served in a martini glass, it was forgettable hence this is all the typing-space it’ll get.
Tomato tartar HK$100, chopped tomatoes with a tomato foam. White asparagus HK$110 were tender. No one fought over the last morsels of these small dishes - expensive indifference.
The escalibada HK$130; layers of smokey charred aubergine and silky red peppers, buttery foie gras (which lent more mouthfeel than flavour) and an intensely fishy topping of eel. A smear of apple puree added a spike of tartness. Great stuff.
The Segovian suckling pig (HK$825) was a young piglet, think Babe. The flesh was sweet, tender bordering on creamy. The crisp skin had very little fat and a lot of give; it’s so dang soft and slinky the piglet gets sliced using plate. That’ll do pig… that’ll do…
NB: If the whole carcass is too much, you can get a small tapas-sized serving for HK$135.
A good side to go with the pork is the whole roasted pineapple, a touch of caramelisation, not too sweet with subtle spicing HK$70.
Another side, the cabbage HK$85 came charred with a cheeky tartness (yuzu?) HK$85
Sweetbreads HK$130, were a freaking joy just to see on the menu. I dunno where the fuck else you can get these silky glands with their subtle richness in The Kong. Finished with a subtle glaze and accompanied with squeaky-on-the-teeth squid.
Service is tight though borders on uptight. Spikes of brilliance with plateaus of good - the food is a pricey treat; so maybe you can use the month-long wait to save up those pieces of gold for this princely meal. Me? I’m way happier (just five steps to the right) with the easy atmosphere of the bar, the chill chat of the mixologists lubricated by a bold cocktail and grazing on a coupla plates of tapas.
Catalunya, Guardian House, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: 2866 7900