The Catalonian chef’s first venture into Asia takes the shape of Tapas,24 where sharing plates is more than welcomed.
From Michelin-starred chef Carles Abellán of La Barra de Carles Abellán and El Bulli fame, Tapas,24 opens its first Asian outpost in Singapore as an all-day tapas bar. The latest addition to the L’Angelus Group, the restaurant promises Abellán’s “designer tapas” amid the laidback Robertson Quay neighbourhood.
The Tapas,24 Singapore kitchen is headed by chef Carolina Garcia Santamaria, protégé of Abellán who has over a decade of culinary experience in Spanish cuisine under her belt. The team, along with sous chefs Kimberley Lui and Troy Lim, travelled to Barcelona for a month and a half to master the recipes from Abellán. To best replicate the flavours, they attended intensive tasting sessions that saw them sampling eight different octopi, six types of olive oil, tomatoes, prawns and potatoes.
According to Santamaria, the cornerstone of Spanish cuisine is authentic produce used sparingly to amplify the flavours in the dish. “It is crucial that we source for the right products as the flavour varies in different parts of the world,” she says. And nothing speaks simplicity like the “Tapas 24” Bikini Sandwich, a grilled sandwich stuffed with black truffles, Ibérico ham and buffalo mozzarella.
The menu also reflects Singapore’s cosmopolitan cuisine in dishes borrowed from countries we’re familiar with. The Barbequed Ribs En Bosam, in particular, is an East Asian-Spanish platter of beloved Korean cuisine with barbequed ribs wrapped in fresh lettuce.
“Singapore is a foodie nation, so we knew that we had to go above and beyond what Tapas,24 is already known for to impress the seasoned local palate,” explains general manager Irene Tan. No stranger to managing a restaurant, her expertise extends well beyond floor operations to knowing what customers want on their social media feed. She adds, “We also placed more thought into the plating of dishes such as the Paella de Gambas al Ajillo and the Avocado con Pesto to suit younger foodies who prefer aesthetically pleasing dishes for the ‘gram.”
Drinks are a compulsory accompaniment for a languid late afternoon comida. Apart from wine, the outpost delivers a dashing selection of Spanish Street Cocktails in various hues of sunset orange, pink and gold. Concocted from Cava, gin, vodka and sweet oranges from the famed Spanish region of Valencia, the Agua de Valencia is guaranteed to take the edge off your hectic week with a tart and juicy kick. An Andalusian favourite, El Rebujito, comes a close second for our choice of refreshment with a combination of sherry, lemon-lime soda and mint.
In response to the phase 2 High Alert restrictions, the team is thinking on their feet to bring the spirit of Barcelona into our abodes, with certain menu items still in the process of being adapted for deliveries. We’re getting word that they are experimenting with DIY food kits to allow customers to recreate dishes at home, and offering Spanish wines and Cava at reasonable prices.