Restaurant Gaig at the Telok Ayer district is the outpost of the Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant in Barcelona. The Barcelona restaurant was first established in 1869, and won its Michelin star in 1993. The winning factor is that it is a family-run restaurant using family recipes for 5 generations.
Celebrated chef Carles Gaig (with his own wikipedia page) was cooking in the kitchen when we visited and he will be here until the end of next week. He will visit Singapore regularly to maintain the high standards and to bring in seasonal ingredients. (Apparently, many people knew about his visit and it was full house when we were there yesterday.)
The menu includes tapas, paellas, and classic Catalan stews, a rare find in Singapore. (LIFE HACK: When you order stew, keep some bread to wipe up the stew.) The restaurant offers a set lunch that includes a selection of three tapas and a main for $38++, and with the addition of dessert for $45++. The a la carte menu is served for both lunch and dinner.
Almost everything is homemade or imported from Spain, from beer to bread. I almost always never talk about the gratis bread, but here, the bread is crusty and warm with a pinch of salt. The olive oil is out of the world, so pristine and invigorating.
There were (1) some good dishes, (2) some fantastic dishes, and (3) some dishes that require a few bites to fall in love with them.
Starting with the first category, (1) the good dishes: the Jamon Iberico croquette ($4.50 each/ min. order 2) is oil-free and crispy with a mashed ham; admirable but nothing to shout about. Forgive me but the traditional cannelloni ($14.50, below), which has been in Carles’s family for 5 generations since 1869, also falls under this category. I had eaten it before at La Ventana where Carles used to be. (He and his team have moved here to open their own restaurant.)
The cannelloni is a traditional cylinder pasta stuffed with foie gras, beef, and pork, drenched in truffle cream. The shredded meat was a tad dry, but the flavors packed an umami and the cream is thick and strong and lovely.
Moving on (2) the fantastic dishes: the shrimp “all-i-pebre” ($22.30), a stew, is soaked in a nutty seafood stock, slightly spicy from pimenton, a Spanish paprika.
The calamari (above) comes as a whole on a sushi board, and the chef slices it between the eaters. It’s doused in a suckling pig sauce; the two kinds of sweetness from squid and sauce play off each other. The tentacles of the squid is coated very lightly with flour and deep-fried; great flavors. If it gets a little too salty—it didn’t for us–the deeply charred pumpkin, sweet and bitter, undercuts the saltiness.
Probably one of best paella in Singapore. Other restaurants serve Spanish mui fan, but here, the pluma iberica pork and mushroom paella ($28.20) tastes far from mui fan. The rice is cooked perfectly al dente in a sweet porky sauce. The small bits of mushroom add a huge earthy umami. If there is some char, it would be better. But there is magic here. Mr Fitness added, “It’s oily, but the oil isn’t jerlat or heavy at all. On the contrary, the oil adds to the delicioso.”
The third category, dishes that require a second bite: beef tripe ($16.50) needs some getting used to but after we took the second bite, it was fantastic. At first, we thought it was stewed pork rind, and it tasted like such. But after a while, the robustness hit us. Bits of potatoes give the stew a thickness and in return, they absorb the stew: super delicious.
This dessert too takes some getting used to, because it is the first time we had eaten it. It’s called orange ice-cream souffle ($10.20) but it’s neither ice cream nor souffle. The airy texture is almost spongy like a souffle but it melts in the mouth like ice cream. A refreshing end to dinner.
16 Stanley Street, Singapore 068735
T: +65 6221 2134
12pm-2pm, 6pm-9.30pm, closed Sun
You may be interested in…
–Pura Brasa, Tanjong Pagar Centre: Spanish Restaurant Created by THE Josper Grill Company
–Tapas Club, Orchard Central: Affordable Spanish Food by Binomio Chef Jose Alonso and Michelin Starred Chef Manuel Berganza
–FOC Sentosa: Will Probably Be On “Best Restaurants of 2017”
–Alma by Juan Amador, Goodwood Park Hotel: Excellent Juan Michelin-Starred Modern Spanish Restaurant in Singapore
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.