Spanish dining with an upmarket twist
I’ve never been to Hong Kong. It’s never appealed. Too congested, too high-rise, and worse; too many ex-pats. However my wife, AKA the Northerner has been plenty, and she swears by it. Great working environment, great culture, and great cuisine. One of her favourite places is Aqua – arguably the most famous restaurant in Hong Kong.
Like many people, she had her concerns when Aqua opened in London. In fact, Aqua London comprises three venues: Aqua Kyoto, which specialises in Japanese cuisine of Tokyo’s Ginza district; and aqua Spirit, the cocktail bars; and last but by no means least, the Spanish restaurant Aqua Nueva.
I visited Aqua Nueva, which reopened in June, and is one seriously good looking restaurant. Intricate black and white mosaic floors run throughout, evoking a traditional Spanish dining room. While the space is framed with a striking copper-coloured vaulted ceiling which has been designed to imitate the inside of the sherry casks of Jerez. With leather banquette seating and prime views of the chefs at work in the kitchen, not to mention the other, mostly good looking diners, enhances the feeling of exclusivity.
We opted for the six course small plates (tapas doesn’t do it justice) menu, which included delights such as: Confit beetroot with deep-fried Monte Enebro Cheese, and liquorice; Citrus-marinated red tuna; red mullet fillet with aioli, black ink rice parcels; and Suckling pig filled with paprika-marinated presa. Every dish hit the right note, however my two favourites were the Grilled cuttlefish with cod brandade, potato and the deceptively simple soft poached egg with chorizo, pancetta, fried potatoes. They were both superb in flavours and textures. My dessert can only described as unusual. It consisted of matured goats cheese ice-cream, tomato and vanilla compote, olive cake, and strawberries and felt perilously close to being a starter or salad course. Serves me right for being adventurous.
The restaurant was relatively quiet given the space, but had a lovely ambience. While the waiting staff were charm personified. Is it expensive? Well it isn’t cheap, but Aqua diners are hardly price sensitive.
I’m not sure when I will ever get to Hong Kong. I’m not sure that I’d fancy hanging with the expats. But if I do, I will give Aqua a try. In the meantime, Aqua Nueva in London will more than suffice.
On a rating of * to *****
Wining and dining ****
Boozing and schmoozing ****
Dating and flirting ****
Aqua Nueva, 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, London
T: 020 7478 0540
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