The One With Zafran Hong Kong – Spanish Tapas Galore

The heat was searing, the kitchen crew frantic, with wait staff darting in and out serving a restaurant full of patrons. Every seats and tables in this beautifully created restaurant were occupied. As I watched the chef worked on tray after tray of endless Spanish tapas, I couldn’t help but feel the tension… and pride. Pride of getting the food done right, and to serve the customers well.

Where was I? I was seated at the bar counter facing right into the open kitchen at the hippest, newest Spanish restaurant in Hong Kong, Zafran. We nursed some rounds of Sangria as the kitchen churned out some choice tapas over some three hours, which was indeed time well spent. Especially on a Friday night.

First up was the gambas ajillo, or garlic chilli prawns. Succulent, fresh and crunchy, the prawns were cooked with a commendable balance of garlic and chilli. I am not a big fan for garlicky dish – think of the bad breath! – but this wasn’t all that overwhelming. Certainly a good preview to what we were in for for the night.

The Zafran homemade chorizo has a lovely level of spiciness, with a fragrant oil base which went down great with the endless supply bread. The smoked pork can be a tad too salty for some, but I thought it was delicious nonetheless. I would imagine this to be quite a treat for a hearty meal during those cold winter nights.

The salt cod brandada with cauliflower cake and ikura came to us looking like a beautiful sculpture of food. The cauliflower cake was creamy smooth, its taste complimented the light cod moose very well. Together the combination tasted even better than foei gras, and that’s saying something since I am a big fan of the latter. The contrast of light and heavy flavours certainly played well on my palate.

But what really captivated us the entire night was certainly the star tapa (if you could call it that), the suckling pig. Previously I thought the best suckling pig was at the Manor Seafood Restaurant, but the version at Zafran came a very close second.

We watched in anticipation as the kitchen staff prepared tray after tray for this gorgeous looking suckling pig, wondering when it would be our turn to have a go. I even attempted to count how many of these half pigs – at some HK$700+ a pop – were ordered that night, but I lost count after the tenth tray.

Yes, it was that popular.

After I took my first bite, I realised why that shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Though it was a tad oily, the suckling pig tasted rich and flavorful, and the crispy skin melts in your mouth. The accompanying pumpkin sauce was a bit citrusy and rather refreshing, but the pork itself tasted good enough even on its own. A half-pig portion is good for four, and is certainly a highly recommended tapa if you visit Zafran.

This dessert dish looked deceivingly like breakfast, and under Zafran’s dim light I certainly didn’t expect it tasted the way it did. The fried egg is actually a combination of caramelised white chocolate which tasted very much like vanilla, and pumpkin ice cream. The fries? Candied pineapple strips with cherry. And those meat chunks on the side are actually brownies.

Verdict? A stylish place to hang out at in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong, with a selection of tapas which will get your tongue wagging.

Note: This was an invited tasting session.

Zafran Hong Kong
Basement, 43-55 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2116 8855
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