COCONUTS HOT SPOT – Spanish food isn’t just about tapas, and that’s what Restaurant Gaig is here to prove. The Michelin-starred eatery hailing from Barcelona has just set up its ‘sister’ location in Singapore, managed by the daughter of renowned chef Carles Gaig (who will make regular pitstops on our shores with seasonal produce from his homeland).
If you haven’t heard of the original, Taberna d’en Gaig was founded in 1869, then rebranded to Restaurant Gaig after 120 years – Carles was awarded his first Michelin star in 1993.
The Singapore outlet, nestled on a quiet off-street in the Telok Ayer area, is a bright and homely place that welcomes family gatherings and business meetings alike. The menu features a medley of tapas, paellas and classic Catalan stews, with most ingredients either imported from Spain or made in-house.
We’d suggest you bring a couple of friends along to share the small plates and mains, so you can get a taste of everything. Start off with tapas like the good old patatas bravas ($9), chunks of deep-fried potatoes with spiced tomato sauce and aioli – you can never go wrong with an order of this.
Also recommended are the roasted chicken croquettes ($3.60 each), crystal bread with tomato and olive oil ($6.50/six slices), and the restaurant’s traditional savory cannelloni ($12) – it’s a 150-year-old recipe of roasted meat wrapped in cannelloni sheets and slathered with a truffle cream sauce.
Chilli crab fans can try the Spanish version, Txangurro ($25), of crab meat mixed with onions, tomatoes, leeks and hollandaise sauce baked in the crab shell.
If paellas are a must-try for you, go for the Presa Iberica and mushroom pan ($27.20) or the squid ink seafood fideuà ($29.50). The former is an aromatic mix of pork chunks and mushroom bits, while the latter is cooked in fish stock and replaces the rice with short vermicelli noodles – the generous portions can feed about two to three people.
As for the meaty mains, pan-seared beef tenderloin ($32.80) and grilled lamb rack ($42) make appearances on the menu, alongside the oven-roasted suckling pig ($160/half) that requires a 48-hour pre-order.
But don’t just stop there. Classic Catalan stews – which are rather rare in Singapore – are whipped up here in seven varieties, from the shrimp ‘all-i-pebre’ in an almond, hazelnut, garlic and paprika reduction ($22.30) to the pig trotter with turnips ($16.80) cooked for hours on low heat to the ‘Llata’ of oven-roasted beef, carrots, onions and mushrooms ($23.60).
On the dessert end, besides standard sweet treats like churros with chocolate ($12.50) and brownie with berries ($12.70), there’s the Catalan version of crème brûlée ($10.20) – but don’t expect it to be like what you’re accustomed to. This rendition is lighter and not as rich as its French partner.
If you’re after something fruity, try the red wine poached pear ($12.80), or go for the unassuming but unique orange ice cream soufflé ($10.20) which, quite honestly, blends the fluffiness of a soufflé with the creaminess of ice cream to perfection.
Restaurant Gaig is at 16 Stanley St, 6221-2134. Mon-Sat noon-2pm, 6pm-9.30pm.