Review: Tapas a’Peel, Hong Kong

Hidden away in a tiny lane in the heart of Soho, Hong Kong’s newest tapas joint serves up fuss-free home-style cooking, with a focus that’s more on flavor and less on glitz.

If you’re looking for a quiet spot for a light lunch, a romantic dinner far from the crowds, a hidden gem that you can make your own, or a glass of wine and a reprieve from gallery glaring, Tapas a’Peel has opened in a hideaway off Peel and Hollywood. The menu of this pint-sized eatery is all about grazing; bringing people together to pick and sample quality cuisine over good conversation and a drop or two from the simplistic but enticing wine list. Although relatively empty on our Friday lunch time visit, the new restaurant, which is housed in a space previously occupied by JAA Kitchen, is already picking up momentum less than a fortnight after opening, and the phone couldn’t stop ringing.

We associate tapas with Spain and Spanish cuisine but Tapas a’Peel’s menu covers the whole Mediterranean spectrum, with influences from both the northern and southern shores of the sea, including Italy, Greece, Turkey and Morocco. Restaurant manager and hospitality stalwart Heinz Egli’s curated menu focuses on the best quality ingredients, from Meta Aurum olive oil and Giovanna Pavarotti aged balsamic, through to tangy salted Portuguese chorizo, and delicate tissues of Serrano ham. Each dish is an ode to its origins, with fresh, clean flavours and serving sizes that mean everyone can have a mouthful.

“Tapas a’Peel has been designed like a neighbourhood restaurant with warm, rustic interiors and authentic, wholesome food to complete the experience,” says Egli.“Our focus is on using the finest ingredients possible and in Hong Kong we’re spoiled for choice.”

Highlights of the starters menu include the Moroccan salad with eggplant, vine tomatoes, red onions and tahini yoghurt dressing; and sautéed chorizo with olives, chili and garlic. For something a little more substantial, the lamb tangine is perfect for one person; theossobuco falls from the bone with a sigh; the souvlaki with tzatziki is a heart warmer; and the blank ink pasta with prawns and a rich dill cream ensures you’ll do little more than sit at your desk the rest of the afternoon, a smile of satisfaction on your face.If you make it to desert, be sure to try the home-made lemon tart with wild berry coulis; or the chilled walnut cream with caramelized nuts and Frangelico liqueur.

Egli’s menu is all about “active dining”, meaning you’re cutting your own garlic, rosemary and sea salt bread, fresh from the oven, and grating garlic pearls into olive oil to taste.The wine list is short and snappy, with a few unusual additions, including a super rose from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, the perfect accompaniment to a lingering Friday lunch.

LGF, 61-63 Hollywood Rd (off lower Peel) Tel: +852 2545 5988;

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