I was craving for Spanish Tapas for Lunch – simple, easy, satisfying, single servings. Eat as much, or as little as your heart or your stomach desire. It’s difficult to find a good Tapas bar in China. Maybe contemporary tapas from Spanish celebrity chef and molecular gastronomy proselytizer Paco Roncero called Estado Puro may cut it.
Spanish chef Paco Roncero, whose restaurants have a number of Michelin stars, may not be a household name, but he’s certainly no stranger to the food lovers in the region. For the past two years, he was the patron chef of the now-shuttered View 62 on top of Hong Kong’s Hopewell Centre. I loved the food there, but because the lighting in the place was so dark, I could not take any proper photos for a blogpost.
Roncero’s first venture into Shanghai is a tapas restaurant located in Xintiandi.
Everything about Estado Puro’s Shanghai outlet (it also has locations in Madrid, Ibiza and Bogota) was quite interesting. First, it was in a group of old warehouses that were refurnished by Singapore architects funded by Hong Kong and Taiwan funds back in 90s when Shanghai was first emerging as the new Megapolis of the 21st century.
So aptly to place a Tapas bar that broke all the rules. The menu was a lot of reinterpreted classics of Spanish Tapas – croquettes, Iberico ham, gambas, pulpo.
In a dining room with playful, lighthearted food vocabularies plastered on its walls, the dishes were by contrast uninspiring. Perhaps it was because Spanish Tapas in a town where small plates dining meant Dim Sum and dining slow was not encouraged, you have to become an educator and start with the classics.
A well-stocked bar, but I was not in the mood for any alcohol.
So I settled for a Virgin Mojito. I regretted it straight away, as it cost as much as a regular mojito. But what the heck, I cannot indulge with as much alcohol as before, so this is as close as it gets.
I was supposed to be a really light brunch. Lazy Saturday afternoon, not fancying any entertainment, a bit of me-time. That’s what I was looking for.
Chorizo Iberico – Iberian chorizo sausages – thinly sliced chorizo with toasts and tomato puree. All lazy afternoon must come with a meat platter.
This is how to really enjoy the lazy afternoon. You take a piece of toast, put a piece of chorizo and top it with the tomato. Pop it into your mouth, munch and watch the world go by. Chew for as long as you can, relax. And repeat.
Patata Brava & Aioli – aioli, herring caviar, potatoes and spicy potatoes – This was turning a classic potato tapas into a modern interpretation. Perfect cubes of regular roasted potato with a mayo-caviar, coupled with a potato croquette with spicy tomato puree and mayo. One was savoury and other spicy. One still had the bite to the potato, the other was soft. Yummy, but unfortunate because it was sent together with the chorizo and the mash, it turned cold by the third piece.
Pulpo a al Gallega – octopus with potato and Spanish smoked paprika – I rather enjoyed this one. Mashed potato with octopus and bits of paprika. You would only get to the octopus when you dug deep into the mash. The warm mash was creamy and tasty. I was quite full from the previous patatas dish, but this was so good that I finished it anyway.
Gazpacho & Gambas – cold tomato soup with prawn and parmesan – the gazpacho was spiced with cinnamon and a hint of saffron. The parmesan was not prominent and the three prawns in the soup was not tasty. The prawns were definitely cooked separately and put in as part of the plating. And strangely it came last.
The portions of the food was reasonable for Tapas. Unfortunately, the pacing was not. Everything came together so one was caught with all the warm food at the same time and given the cold winter days, they turned cold pretty quickly as well. I do not understand the rush though, it was 3 pm and there were only 4 other folks in the restaurant. So why the rush to turn tables?
I guess that’s where slow dining was not preferred in Shanghai. When the economy was booming and everyone was making big bucks by the minute, why would anyone slow down and enjoy life for a moment. Ahh, Maslow Hierarchy of Needs.
Unit 3, 1/F, Bldg 22, North Plaza, 181 Taicang Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu
Shanghai, China 200035
Tel: +86 21 6385 8001
Date visited: Nov 2017