Rating: ★★★★☆

Address: Basement, 43-55 Wyndham St., Central 中環雲咸街43-55號地庫

Telephone: 2116 8855

http://www.zafran.com.hk/

https://www.facebook.com/ZafranHK

Just when you think that Hong Kong’s Spanish dining scene is starting to get saturated, yet another tapas bar pops up to prove that we still have appetite for delicious tapas. Located in LKF with two discreet entrances, a main entrance down an alley off Wyndham Street and a “backdoor” opposite Socialito, Zafran is a modern Spanish restaurant that serves tapas with a contemporary spin.

Zafran is the latest venture of Aqua Restaurant Group, the group behind many trendy eateries in Hong Kong such as Aqua and La Marmite, and its decor doesn’t fail to impress. The restaurant is a large space divided into three sections: an inviting, comfortable lounge, a sleek main dining room and a tapas bar which faces the open kitchen.

The restaurant invited a guest chef, chef Jordi Valles Claverol, who came from Barcelona and has worked at prestigious restaurants in Spain and Paris, to design and prepare a 6-course Catalan menu for Hong Kong’s curious tongues from 14 – 20 January 2014. The menu was reasonably priced at $528 per person, and you could add $298 for wine pairing, which came with 5 glasses of specially selected Spanish wines.

IMG_3389_2

(1) We started off with the tuna and cucumber cannelloni with slow cooked tomato and tuna flakes. This beautifully presented dish offered a range of vibrant flavours, but the distinctive tastes of tuna flakes and cucumber were a tad overpowering.

IMG_3396_2

It was paired with a glass of 2011 Blanc Planell from Castell del Remei. This wine was personally selected by chef Jordi as the vineyard is close to his home in Spain; it was a typical new world Sauvignon, and was fruity, dry and crisp, with tropical fruits notes of pineapple and lime.

IMG_3401_2

(2) The second course, juicy lobster rice, was sheer enjoyment for me. I have a weakness for lobsters, and this lobster rice was plumped up with soup and completely flavour-packed. The lobster and mussels were barely cooked and tasted incredibly indulgent. The pairing wine was a glass of 2012 Parcela 52 from Finca Constancia. The wine has been aged in oak for 8 months, and had enough body to pair well with the lobster. It was amber in colour and had notes of apricot.

IMG_3399_2

(3) The Iberian pork belly with yellow pepper purée, pickled onion and pork jus followed. The pork belly was very satisfying, with a crispy skin and tender, juicy meat underneath. A tart flavour in the sauce nicely cut through the pork belly’s fattiness.

IMG_3407_2

A glass of 2010 Mariscal from El Miracle was paired with the dish. El Miracle, in Valencia, is now the largest wine producer in Spain by volume. The wine was 100% made from Grenache, had notes of black fruits and was exquisitely smooth.

IMG_3405_2

(4) I was already quite full by the time the Wagyu short rib with eggplant and grilled endive arrived. The beef was nicely cooked and beautifully tender, and the sauce was well adjusted. I found the 2009 Rioja Crianza Banda Azul from Federico Paternina deliciously smooth; it has been oak aged for 18 month, which gave it a good body to complement the hearty beef.

IMG_3409_2

(5) The crunchy peanut parfait with toffee and chocolate pearls was the star of the night. The peanut parfait was intensely comforting, and the toffee and chocolate pearls made it extra addictive. It was unusually paired with a glass of rosé as the dessert wine – the Cava Primer Semi Sec Rosé had a residual sweetness to complement the dessert, and had an appealingly light fruity character.

IMG_3414_2

(6) The traditional Spanish torrija tasted only all right at first bite, but soon began to grow on me. The mildly spiced, rum scented Catalan cream was exotic and playful, while the almond flakes added delicate and pleasing touches.

IMG_3419_2

After having this promising 6-course tasting menu, I cannot wait to come again to try out Zafran’s other culinary creations!