Spanish restaurants are becoming more common in Singapore, and while there seems to be no end to our love for tapas, paella and sangria, we’re less familiar with more formal Spanish dining.
For the curious, Restaurant Gaig tucked away on Stanley Street is one to seek out. Serving traditional Catalan-style cuisine, it’s an off-shoot from the Michelin-starred Restaurant Gaig in Barcelona that has a culinary history dating back 150 years. Fronted by chef Carles Gaig (who makes bi-monthly trips to Singapore), the Stanley Street outpost is run by his daughter Nuria Gibert. While the location differs, the recipes used remain the same: well-executed family recipes that’s been perfected over time.
As with many Spanish restaurants, it’s hard not to start with the usual tapas suspects. At Restaurant Gaig, the Patatas Bravas ($9.50) and Mushroom croquette ($4.50, min. order 2) is the best way to kick off the meal. The potatoes are perfectly fried, allowing the contrast of textures (crisp on the outside, soft on the inside) to be fully enjoyed. The croquettes shatter on first bite and you’re immediately rewarded with a rich, creamy mushroom filling that’s begging to be eaten by the spoonful.
One dish to order – but we recommend you share – is Gaig’s traditional cannelloni ($15.50). The family has held the recipe since 1869, so they’ve really had some time to perfect it. A perfectly cooked cannelloni sheet is wrapped around a flavourful filling of beef and pork that’s been cooked for hours and bathed in a subtle truffle cream sauce. While the sauce is rich, the nuanced flavour of the meat filling shines through. It’s a velvety, savoury mouthful that’s comfort food at its finest.
Another dish that is rarely found in Singapore is the Shrimp “all-i-pebre” ($22.30), a traditional Catalan stew where juicy prawns have been cooked in a heady cocoction of hazelnut, garlic and parpika. More rustic and flavour-filled than the usual gambas-al-ajiilo, the sauce is its star and best enjoyed by mopping it up with an extra order of their freshly-baked crystal bread.
While there are paellas on the menu (including a lobster paella), looking over the squid ink fideua ($29.50) would be a mistake. While it could do with a bit more seafood (we do like our ‘toppings’), the overall flavour of the smokey, salty squid leaves quite an impression, but thankfully doesn’t stain the lips. Pro-tip: if you’re expecting a burnt bottom like you often find in paella, fideua uses a short style of spaghetti which is best enjoyed a bit moist.
End off the meal with the classic Catalan crème brulee, which is served a little differently – it’s presented with a thin caramelised crust in a martini glass. Dig past the light custard to get to the bottom layer of tangy lemon syrup for the full mouthful, which is wonderfully indulgent and the perfect way to end what is an extremely satisfying meal.
16 Stanley Street, 6221 2124, restaurantgaig.com, there is also a set lunch for $38++ (starter and main course), $45++ (inclusive of dessert)