Looking to satiate your Spanish cravings? From patatas bravas and paella to gazpacho and gambas al ajillo, there are umpteen traditional Spanish specialties – plus fusion variations and modern interpretations – to try throughout Singapore. Here, EL editors and readers review four of the hottest Spanish restaurants in town.
Twinkly lights add romance to the casual and relaxed alfresco area, while the air-conditioned interior is a little more formal. Outside is more charming, though, as Una is located in a heritage black-and-white building: sweet for a date night or a tête-à-tête with a friend, but equally ideal for a large group.
The classic, unpretentious menu lends itself to sharing, as Spanish dishes tend to do. We devoured a mass of old favourites including; croquetas de jamón ibérico ($10); jamón ibérico ($40) – 36-month-cured Spanish ham, toast and relish (yes, I am rather obsessed with Spanish ham!); wagyu a la parrilla ($50), 250 grams of juicy rump steak, perfectly pink; and patatas bravas ($10) also crept their way onto the order, of course. The pulpo a la parrilla con papas arrugadas y mojo ($32) – that’s a large grilled octopus tentacle to you and me – was rather on the huge side, so be careful not to over-order!
What Spanish meal would be complete without manchego? The tabla de quesos ($26), a plentiful platter of manchego and idiázabal cheeses with truffle honey delivered.
You’ll need something to wash this all down with, so start with an Una gin fizz ($18) and follow that with a bottle of Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon ($120) – a Margaret River classic – and you can’t go wrong!
The star of the show:
Churros con chocolate y café ($14): three freshly made, piping hot pieces of deep-fried scrummy-ness that you dip into a little pot of melted chocolate with cream.
– Emi Finch, Online Editor
#2 FOC Sentosa
Inspired by Barcelona beach culture, this casual and colourful beachfront spot is a great place to chill out with some cocktails while the kids run amok in the large, sandy space just outside. If you like Tanjong Beach Club, you’re sure to love FOC (pronounced “folk”), too, as it has a pool and cabanas, an alfresco terrace, and an airy, indoor dining area and bar. Two private rooms on the second level are available to book for group get-togethers, birthday bashes, you name it!
Created by Michelin-starred Chef Nandu Jubany, FOC’s menu is “contemporary Mediterranean with a Spanish touch” and features everything from oysters, hot and chilled tapas and an array of barbecue items, to four types of paella ($28-80) and two types of caldoso rice dishes ($36-140, depending on size) – there’s a lot to choose from here.
For us, standouts included the wonderfully flavoured vegetarian paella ($28 for two to share), full of charred broccoli and other yummy veggies, the savoury and tender Galician-style octopus ($22), a delicious roasted leek salad ($14), and the lovely grilled zucchini and tomato carpaccio with pesto and pine nuts ($12) – this salad was so tasty and fresh, we couldn’t get enough of it. Less impressive was the FOC fish and chips, which we’d been told was a must-try signature; with so many Spanish options to choose from, I’d suggest ordering something else.
Do try the Jack Sparrow’s mojito, made with passion fruit, vanilla, mint and rum – yum!
There’s no kid’s menu; for them, you could choose from a selection of mostly fried foods like cod fritters ($12), fried calamari ($16) and the fish and chips – unless, of course, your child has a more refined palate.
The stars of the show:
Don’t leave before dessert! My husband loved the super-sour Gin & Tonic Lime dessert ($10) – a gin-infused, lime sorbet over ice, while I went nuts over the Yin Yang Cracker ($14) – a thin cookie sandwich the size of my head (literally) that’s filled with hazelnut cream and presented in a metal yin-yang holder. It was inspired by the Catalan neula, a super-thin biscuit that’s traditionally eaten at Christmas-time.
– Amy Greenburg, Wine and Dine Editor
#3 La Ventana (reader review)
Stylish La Ventana is set in a quiet spot in Dempsey Hill, surrounded by lush greenery. The indoor dining room has a modern but cosy feel, perfect for couples and small groups of friends. The outdoor area is more casual and relaxed, great for families and bigger groups.
We started with jamón ibérico de bellota ($26), tasty ham served on bread with tomato – perfectly paired with L’O de L’Origan cava ($21 per glass; $99 per bottle). Then came a delicate foie gras terrine cookie ($18) and a light, refreshing cod esqueixada (chilled cod salad, $18).
Grilled turbot with sea urchin ($48) was also an interesting choice: fresh, and cooked to perfection. OUr crispy suckling pig ($39.50) was also great, with thin, crunchy skin and juicy meat; the strawberry salad on the side was a refreshing accompaniment. My very favourite dish, though, was the lobster paella ($78) – absolutely amazing! We accompanied our meal with red wine sangria ($18 per glass; $70 per jug), which was an excellent choice.
For dessert, the generous portion of Catalan “mini crème brûlée” ($14) was simply divine! We also ordered the yuzu pie ($14), a sweet and tangy confection of yuzu curd and Italian meringue that’s served with yoghurt ice cream.
The star of the show:
The lobster paella – creamy, tasty rice topped with a lobster tail out of its shell – is a must!
– Silvia Bordoni, Italian, Reader
#4 Binomio (reader review)
Set in Duxton Hill, Binomio stands out from the Spanish crowd with a blend of authenticity and inventiveness. There’s a casual tapas bar in the front, with a refined (yet still lively) white-table-clothed dining area further back. The décor is similarly dual-purpose and modern, but with definite Mediterranean touches. You could simply hang out in the bar, with its great selection of cocktails and exclusively imported Spanish wines . But then you’d miss out on the terrific food that’s featured in the dining room.
We began with classic tapas (you can choose five tapas for $139, or seven for $188): the selección de ibéricos (cold cut platter, $32/48) and croquetas Binomio ($14), four ham, chicken and boiled egg croquettes. More creative plates were to come: pulpo á feira ($34), small discs of incredibly tender octopus atop thin slices of potato; papada con navajas ($32), grilled pork belly and razor clams with cauliflower puree; and albondigas de carrillera de ternera ($28), impossibly light veal cheek meatballs.
We also loved the arroz negro ($69 for two to share). One of seven paellas, this squid ink version with clams and calamari was as visually striking as it was delicious. To round off your meal, the tarta helada al whisky ($14) with vanilla ice cream is worth saving room for.
It’s the combination of authentic Spanish flavours, innovative presentation and lively atmosphere that makes the difference at Binomio.
The star of the show:
Undoubtedly the costillar de ternera ($27), a tapas of slow-roasted short ribs as tender and satisfying as wagyu.
– Scott Morris, American, Reader