La Taperia Cocina Espanola is located on level 2 of the newly reopened Shaw Centre. Formerly named “Terry’s” after the Spanish chef who also operates a highly regarded restaurant in Manila, the change of name was apparently brought about after some issues surfaced between the chef and the local partners. La Taperia is now helmed by local chefs. Anyway, those matters are of no concern to us, except maybe to explain the slightly makeshift signboard which looks out of place in this corner of Shaw Centre which it shares with its grand looking sibling F&B outlets Vinum, Caveau Wines, and Whisky Library.
The restaurant is medium-sized with a seating capacity of about 60. There is a verandah section where you can go for your nicotine fix. We had mixed feelings about the accomodation. The creativity of the space designer is obvious and this is no cookie cutter outlet. It has character and the use of different types of seating and of different heights made for a more interesting environment to reduce the feeling of being squeezed which is quite likely as some of the tables are quite close to each other. However, apart from the bench seating areas which are properly upholstered, you are seated on wooden chairs (if you are lucky) or have to perch on rickety stools with or without small backrests. We do think the seating arrangements can be improved.
They were still using the Terry menus when we were there. For lunch there are two set lunch options available (a $35 3-course or a $50 4-course). There is a tasting menu with about eight courses for both lunch or dinner at $95. Based on our experience that day, we would only attempt the tasting menu only when we have a super good appetite. We tried some items from the ala carte menu for dinner.
We ordered three types of tapas, all in the small portions. The sounds and smells of the sizzling prawns in olive oil with spices and garlic (Gambas Al Ajillo, $16) could be detected by our hungry senses before the dish arrived at the table. We highly recommend this dish to perk up the appetite in anticipation of the meal. Next were our tapas favorites Spanish omelette ($12) and octopus ($18). The omelette was very well made with the core remaining slightly moist. The octopus we suspect was overcooked. The portions were quite big despite our ordering the small sized portions. We began to suspect that we had over-ordered as the two main courses had yet to come.
The squid ink paella ($32) arrived soon after. The clams and prawns had been cooked separately from the rice and placed on top. This made them stand out in marked contrast, both visibly and in taste, from the rice. We suppose there are good reasons for and against doing this. We would have preferred having all the ingredients blended together for a cohesive taste. The danger of over-cooking (which was apparently the main motivation for this style) can be overcome, we think, by introducing the items are the appropriate stage of cooking.
The final dish was the sucking pig ($45). We estimate this was probably one of the hind quarters of one very young pig. This was superbly done. The skin was thin and very crispy. The meat was very tender and moist. But still it was a very heavy dish, notwithstanding the help by the condiments provided, caramelised shallots and preserved peaches, to reduce the feeling of oiliness. The experience was marred slightly by a sense of guilt for eating such a young (and probably very cute) piglet. We kept getting reminded of that by the tiny trotter that was also presented on the plate. Apparently some patrons like to eat the skin around it. We would prefer not to see it. Apart from that, it was a great experience but it was a really heavy meal which enjoyment was enhanced by the bottle of Spanish wine (2002 Vega Sicilia Valbuena) which we brought along. The restaurant charges $30 corkage per bottle but may waive it if you purchase a bottle from their list.
Food : 4
Service : 3
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
#02-10 Shaw Centre
1 Scotts Road
Tel : 6737 8336
12.00pm to 3.00pm (last order 2.00pm)
6.30pm to 10.00pm
Thursday-Saturday & PH Eve
6.30pm to 12.00am
Nearby Stations : Orchard