Saturday, January 1, 2011

MESA 15, by Alejandro Sanchez - ♕♕♕ 3/4

You’re probably thinking what’s with the quarter marks being awarded here, but honestly I couldn’t come up with a better way of expressing the equally good surprises we’d spotted, as well as some mediocre ones we’d rather not!    Chef Alejandro Sanchez of Spain’s Andalusian region, has already been awarded his Michelin 1 Star status in Spain, as plastered all-over the billboard in HK during late December 2010 – its supposedly the first Spanish Michelin starred Chef to have arrived in this city, and peeping into this kitchen you’ll see he means serious business with his gigantic sous-vide tank and food processor.  But what if the food isn’t upto standards, yeah? 

Its not purely a Tapas only bar here either. Plates come in either Tapas or the larger Pica-Pica racione size. Or a Plato main size for the meatier or seafood dishes.

Nouvelle styled Spanish Tapas restaurant…
If you want the more authentic and traditional Tapas in HK,
go to Estudio and Ole. They’re as close to Spain as you can get.

IMG_7476Kalimotxo -
Cava, Beer and Wines are all the rage in Spain recently. Even the good old Sherries, Sangria and Vermut have taken a backdrop in the scenery nowadays when it comes to  eating tapas – how quickly do times change.   Kalimotxo, is made up of a mixture of Rioja Red Wine, Vermouth and Light Coke, one of the most popular drinks visiting a Spanish gastro-pub.  Quite refreshing  ~ 8/10

Kind of open kitchen..

Sopa de Ajo -
Free range egg in Iberico garlic Soup, this was powerful yet refreshing.
The egg was cooked medium and made the soup interesting with its half set yolkiness
~  7/10

Remojon Alpujarreno -
Cod puree is paired with dried sweet bell peppers, orange and black olives. We thought this tasted rather weak when compared to a Spanish or Portuguese cod brandade, it was just potato cream. We could hardly come to terms as to what this is really trying to achieve ~ 6/10

Pan con Tomate Y AOVE -
AOVE is Extra virgin olive oil, and this was one of the best ones we’ve had in either HK or even Spain. The Spanish versions over there usually have less tomatoes even. Note that this costs $29, and plain bread costs $15. No bread is given with any dishes here by default, unacceptable ~ 8/10

Croquetas de Jamon de Iberico -
These were presented on a black slate dish, which seems to be the ‘it’ nowadays, but I was not convinced.  The best Spanish croquettes in HK are found in Estudio in Admiralty, which also happens to be the most authentic Spanish tapas bar in Hong Kong by a large margin, relatively speaking.  The one here lacked any bechamel consistency or any Iberian Ham taste, albeit fried fairly well in the end  ~  6.9/10

Mejillones en Escabeche -
Plump Mussels were marinated and pickled in a slightly appetising and sour escabeche sauce along with its own juice.  This was very good in both mussels texture and taste.  The sauce was soaked up by the side-order of plain bread ($15) in no time ~  8/10

Gambas Al Ajillo -
This was honestly, a complete joke to Spanish cuisine! The obviously Chinese Sourced Garlic was so over-powering, the effect lasts for hours, and the prawns not remotely close to the real Spanish version.  Everyone on the table hated this dish tremendously.  No one even wanted to finish this Chinese-Stir-Fry lookalike of a dish.  There’s nothing remotely Spanish about this, from prawn to the Thailand sourced asparagus - we have no idea why this was let out from the kitchen ~ 0/10


Mini Hamburguesa de Costilla -
Mini baby-rib burger with pepper jam was anything short of spectacular.  The patty of pork was tasteless, the slider bun was hard and cold.  The potato chips and purple potato crisps were of the pre-bought variety.  And they call this a signature dish here?? banghead ~ 3/10


Cochinillo Confitado -
Suckling pig is slow-cooked for 24 hours, before crispened up at the final minute and topped with salt flakes.  Paired with a herbal oil and pumpkin puree.  The pork was extremely tender and flavoursome, the skin was  thin and crackly.  This was definitely the dish of the night and worth a trip for itself. Excellent ~ 9/10

Tocino de Cielo -
Known as ‘the Pork Belly in Heaven’ for a dessert, we were initially skeptical ordering this despite the insistence from staff members.  This turned out to be just pork fat crisped up during frying and combined with a passionfruit curd.  Interesting yes, but spectacular no… a rather mediocre tasting dessert ~ 5/10

Dracula -
This is meant to be the no.1 surprise dessert of MESA 15 (as if Dracula is from Spain anyway, pfff!!). The waiter would not divulge any details about its compositional make-up, other than its strawberry coulis component, but unfortunately this was rather predictable and exposed by yours truly even before its popped into our mouths.   My friends would probably loath me, but there was really no unexpected surprises here as it’s a trick practised by many before our time especially in nouvelle Spanish cuisine.  Nevertheless, quite a theatrical play and enjoyable if one hasn’t experience one before, but no spoilers from me  ~  7.5/10

We thought some of the food was great, but some were either too try-hard and playful,
I think MESA 15 didn’t deliver what it promised. Some of the dishes were just so average, it makes one wonder if the Chef has lost the plot even before’d he began?  Michelin 1 Star hmmmm..  May be back in hometown, but not here.. 

Price: $250 + 10% Per Person
Score: ★★★★☆

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -      TBA, Currently Night Only
Address: 中環荷利活道15號
(15 Hollywood Road, Central)
Ph: 2530 1890



  1. I get the feeling this is not pitching at anywhere the same level as the original in Spain.... Shame as I could do with some of the glories of proper Spanish cuisine.

  2. Yep its definitely more geared towards the Central crowd after a drink with snacks, like an Izakaya equivalent rather than as say haute cuisine!

    I think it has potential to be honest. It has a sardine lasagna which sounded interesting, but unavailable on our night of visit! They were just too many ordinary or dud items to make this really impressive. You know when you can feel that the Chef is 100% confident with his creations? Kind of like The Ledbury. Yet, you don't see signs of it here, its more like they're just being exploratory and mucking about with trial and error ! :D



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