New & Noted: La Paloma

What: Sexy tapas bar and restaurant by Chef Willy Trullas Moreno
Where: 1/F, SoHo 189, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong. Tel: (+852) 2291 6161. Web:
Why: For fine Spanish fare in an upmarket venue
This is the El Willy Group’s second venture in Hong Kong, after the success of Fo Fo five years ago. The restaurant follows the fun and flirty style of their other establishments; it was warm, welcoming and bustling on our visit, so we suggest that you book a table in advance. From their seats, guests are able to look into the open kitchen with its designated Paella station and “el Asador”, a traditional clay oven from Castilla y Leon, which can reach up to 300 degrees Celsius. The wait staff are friendly and efficient, and happy to give you helpful food and drink suggestions along the way. Valencian Executive Chef, Vito Chiavacci, helms the kitchen, and with his half-Spanish and half-Italian heritage, he brings passion and knowledge to the eatery.
We started off with a selection of tapas, including bacon con queso (HK$68 for four pieces), which are explosive air baguettes filled with a creamy cheese filling and wrapped in fatty bacon. We also enjoyed the salmon explosion (HK$22 per piece), not too dissimilar to the famous explosive Balik salmon at El Willy in Shanghai. The gambas ai ajillo (HK$ 78) was another beautiful addition. The large and juicy shrimps were brimming with garlic flavour and served with a hint of olive oil, in which they had been sautéed.
Next, we tried the cochinillo (HK$350). It was honestly one of the best roast suckling pigs we have ever tried, with its crispy skin and tender meat. Chef Vito told us that it had been vacuum packed and cooked for 15 hours before being finished in the clay oven. We also enjoyed the Valenciana Paella (HK$328), which included artichoke, French bean and chicken, with generous dollops of mayonnaise to give it a creamy consistency. Instead of finishing off the cooking process in the oven, this Paella was cooked on a high heat over the stove to make a crispy socarrat - the crust on the bottom of the dish - which was rich in flavour from the stock and gave the perfect bite at the end of the dish. 
We finished off with bollycao (HK$ 58), Nutella chocolate brioche buns; a sinful ending to our indulgent feast. There is also a long wine list (from HK$288), featuring wines from various regions in Spain, as well as Spanish bottled and draught beers, sherry and sangria. Cocktails are also priced very reasonably, at HK$68.
La Paloma is definitely worth a visit during a trip to Hong Kong, and is in a fantastic location in the buzzing Sai Ying Pun area. We will be back again soon.