“Loco” means crazy in Spanish, which explains the picture of Savaldor Dali in the bar. He represents all things bizarre and wild. Chef Sudirman bin Alias, or affectionally known as Chef Man, is the executive chef who has been to several tasting trips in Spain for the past ten years.
The ambience at Boat Quay is relaxing but is the light wood furnishing giving off a right vibe? Light wood, to me, seems to suggest a makeshift and cheaper place than Loco is. However, with a panoramic view of the Singapore River, who really cares about the chairs?
I love sangria, in general, and always order it wherever it is available. While I generally prefer white to red sangria–because it’s lighter, more festive–the red sangria (red with orange, apple and cranberry, $12) is better than the white sangria (white wine with orange, $12) here simply because it has a more complex taste, as you can tell from the ingredients. However, I like my sangria sparkling (more fun) and with bits of fruits floating in it, so the drinks didn’t work for me. Free tostada (french loaf topped with egg mayo or prawn) with drinks during happy hour, 5pm-8pm.
We had a smorgasbord–I hate that word–of tapas for the food tasting and I divided it into three categories: good, ok, and avoid.
Cordero al ajo (rack of lamb with garlic and aromatic herbs, $7.50 per piece).
Pictured right. Tender, juicy grilled in a medium/ medium-rare fashion without the lamb stench.
Solomillo al ajo (beef tenderloin cubes in olive and garlic, $15). Drenched in oil and topped with those crispy garlic bits, the cubes were tender and chewy and there was an essence of “beefness” which made it very appealing for beef lovers.
Croquettas de pollo (chicken croquette, $2.50 per piece). Thinly breaded, crisply fried, the liquid potato oozed out. Very salty but in a good and delicious way. However, there was only a slight tinge of chicken, tasting almost like blended chicken pie. This is a crowdpleaser.
Tortilla española (spanish omelette, $8). The tamago-like omelette has potato within and comes with a dip of mayo. Nothing spectacular but nothing amiss.
Gambas al ajillo (Shrimps in garlic and olive oil, $14). Chiobu voted to put this dish under the “good” section because the fried garlic bits were so savory. A very Chinese dish. But the shrimps were not de-shelled, so the garlic and olive oil couldn’t properly be infused into the meat.
Zarzuela de marisco (prawn squid fish mussels clams in tomato sauce, $16). Again, Chiobu voted to list this dish under “good.” But it was average, overly oily. The sauce is used as a dip for french loaf. If the seafood were made into a broth, instead of a sauce, one could at least drink the sweetness of the seafood in broth.
Paella valenciana ($35). A signature dish from Valencia, it consists chorizo, chicken, pork belly, clams, mussels, prawns and fish that are slowly cooked in the chef’s secret homemade broth. OMG, this is the bomb! It is impossible to describe this dish’s taste because it was so complex. It was at times sweet with tomato, buttery with–is it?–saffron, slightly salted like a whiff of the sea and slightly bitter and texturally interesting with the burnt rice. I haven’t eaten many paella-s before so I cannot say for sure this is the best ever paella. But among those paella-s I have eaten, this one is uberdelicious.
Churros with chocolate dip ($7). Churros are Spanish version of a denser you-tiao (fried dough). The churros I tried before were sprinkled with sugar, like a doughnut. This version paled in comparison. If only this dessert came with ice cream.
The service was good with friendly staff.
Except for the asparagus–the ham wrapped around it is probably hikes the cost–the food and drinks are reasonably priced, considering Loco is at a prime location. Good service, great ambience and although there are some hits and misses with the tapas, the paella was extremely tasty. We helped the dish washer clean the pan; we scraped the burnt rice and licked the pan spotless. Each person should have 3-4 tapas or one main course to be full. I want to return and have a paella all to myself.
Loco Spanish Tapas Bar
48 Boat Quay
T: 6535 2841
Rating: 3.188/5 stars
PS: We thank Khaled and Loco for inviting us to the tasting.