A Taste of Northern Spain at The Optimist, Hong Kong
The bar area on the ground floor
Weekends are the best time to escape from the hustle and bustle, enjoy an indulgent meal and chill. If Spanish fare is your cup of tea, you will definitely not be disappointed by The Optimist at Wan Chai, Hong Kong. This 2-year old bar and restaurant focuses on authentic, rustic and delicious Northern Spanish cuisine. The brainchild of Christian Talpo and Manuel Palacio (the duo behind the famed Italian restaurant, Pirata), The Optimist has a charming ambience with high ceiling, natural materials and leafy plants. On the second and third floors, you can see vintage paintings, giving the restaurant authenticity and cosiness, transporting one to Spain. Other than the lovely setting, what I like about The Optimist is the warm and hospitable service, making me feel at home instantly.
Crab salad pintxos and tomato bruschetta
Every Sunday, The Optimist serves a semi buffet comprising an all-you-can eat tapas selection, sharing starters, choice of a main course and desserts.
Salmore jo (cold tomato soup)
The extensive variety of tapas and salads is a great way to titillate your senses and whet your appetite. However, it is good to exercise some restraint before piling your plate with too much food as there are many more substantial courses to go.
Some of the delectable treats to look out for include the Spanish tortilla, crab salad pintxos, assorted cheeses and cured meats, melon mint salad, salmore jo (cold tomato soup), pumpkin salad, kale salad, salpicon salad and cucumber and black sesame salad.
Spanish cold cuts and cheese
The sharing starters include a selection of Spanish cold cuts, ham croquettes and the broken eggs (heuvos rotos).
Broken egg (heuvos rotos)
My favourite was the broken egg ((heuvos rotos) – a very delicious dish prepared with fried eggs, fried potatoes and chorizo. This is particularly a hot favourite in Northern Spain where the people are less well-to-do and families will gather together to enjoy a hearty meal together.
The ham croquettes were excellent too, a delightful balance of a crisp outer exterior and a soft, fluffy interior, giving it a greater variation of textures.
Arroz caldoso (seafood rice)
If the starters, tapas and salads are not sufficient to fill your stomach, the main course definitely will. I chose the arroz caldoso which is a seafood rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. A little like the Italian risotto, it was flavourful with the sweetness of the seafood and the tanginess of the tomatoes. Although the texture was smooth and creamy, every grain of rice was separate, firm and al dente.
The finale was the dessert selection which included brownies, raspberry cheese cake and the flan. I wanted to have all three but my stomach could only contain one. I chose the cheese cake which was a little heavy, however, the raspberries gave it a more refreshing taste.
The Optimist is an excellent place to unwind and indulge in down-to-earth and authentic Northern Spanish cuisine. If you are going for the Weekend Brunch, I would suggest that you go with an empty stomach.
The Optimist is located at 239 Hennessy Road in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. For reservations, please call +852 2433 3324 or email email@example.com
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