Olé | New winter dishes at the oldest Spanish restaurant in Hong Kong
Christmas may be over, but it’s still the season for warming, hearty dishes. A few weeks ago, I went to Casa Lisboa and loved their series of stews and meats that were perfect for chilly weather. So I was excited to visit Olé for two reasons. One because I wanted to try more of this city’s warming winter options and two because I’ve heard such good things about the place but never had a chance to visit. I think it was last year that every media person I knew was raving about their tapas brunch launched in line with their 20th anniversary. For Hong Kong, surviving and thriving for 20 years is extremely impressive.
The restaurant has largely retained its original decor and is homey-chic. During the dinner service, there was dim lighting, the sounds of live Spanish guitar music, and the owner, Mr. Carmelo Lopez, was making the rounds checking in on guests. All of this contributed to a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.
So what are the new winter dishes on offer?
There are two seafood dishes. The Grilled Scampi with Suckling Pig Feet and Beans ($210) was a super interesting dish. Firstly, the pig feet meat is removed from the bones so this dish is easy to eat. The base of the dish, with beans, pig feet, and a garlic, olive oil, parsley and almond sauce is hearty and especially nice with the scampi juices dripped in. However, the scampi themselves were not huge.
The Caldeirada Gallega ($388) is a larger dish, a seafood stew with huge, tender octopus legs, clams, and red shrimp. A high-quality dish though note that the texture of the stew is runny rather than thick.
While the seafood dishes were good, I have to say that it was the meat dishes that really impressed me. The Quail in Chocolate Sauce with Green Apple Mash ($180) was well-balanced, with the refreshing apple sauce contrasting with the oily-skinned (in a good way) quail which had quite a lot of meat on its bones.
Even more meaty was the Pan-seared Royal Pigeon with Meloso Rice ($220 for half, $380 for whole). Just look at that tenderness!
Now for those that love lamb, fatty foods, and/or eating a lot, this next dish is for you. I’m still thinking about the Iberico Lamb Shoulder and Mortar Potatoes ($630), maybe because I just had some leftovers for dinner last night. While this may not be the prettiest dish, it was fantastic. The meat had a distinct lamb aroma but wasn’t stinky. It was moist throughout with lovely fat ribbons everywhere. And of course had a nice crispy skin. The mashed potatoes and roast garlic bulb that came with it were also the perfect accompaniments. Maybe this is for date night past the one year mark (hah) or you could just skip the garlic. It’s absolutely huge and could easily feed four to six, or just order this plus a salad for two people and enjoy the leftovers the next day. Very good value.
Lastly, dessert! The lamb was a hard act to follow but our meal ended on the high nonetheless. I’m a New York cheesecake kind of girl because I love that intense sweet cheese flavour. Usually I find whipped cheesecakes too airy and light on the flavour. But Olé’s new Cheesecake with Crumble and Fig Preserve ($110) has all the flavour of a New York cheesecake but with the texture of whipped cream. This I could have easily eaten by myself while watching Netflix or something so good thing I was in public and only snagged a few bites. Waistline, you’re welcome.
There’s also a Turron Fondant ($90) made with marzipan. While this didn’t ooze like a lava cake, it was hot, moist, and a unique dish to try.
We went on a weekday evening and the restaurant was pretty packed! Lots of dates and group dinners happening. Not a heavy expat crowd either. I’d definitely come back to Olé again the next time I’m craving comfort food. From the garlic potatoes and olives served when you sit down to the last bite of dessert, the whole meal was flavourful and satisfying. My favourite dishes were the lamb shoulder and cheesecake. Now how do I make another trip to the restaurant before these dishes are taken off the menu…
Shun Ho Tower, 24-30 Ice House St, Central, 2537 8856