26th July 2013.
There’s a tapas craze going on in Singapore. Not really among Singaporeans but restaurateurs. Month after month you hear about new tapas bars/bistros, and it’s becoming a cliché to start off an article along the line of “tapas bars are sprouting everywhere”.
Zsofi has been around before the hype though. They’ve been around as a tapas bar, dishing out free tapas with any purchase of booze (yay free food!). Now they are venturing into the bistro scene, offering home-style Spanish food alongside the extensive tapas menu.
Though the chefs are Singaporeans, the restaurant stays faithful to the Spanish food culture, while toning down the flavours a little to appeal to both locals and Spaniards.
Trudging through the late afternoon heat in Little India, we reached Zsofi parched. A glass of Sangria cooled us down, ready for the heat of the first dish.
We kicked off the dinner with Pimiento de Padrón, Spanish Padrón peppers (each with a slightly different level of heat) sprinkled with sea salt flakes. Fortunately for us, none was too much to take. Or maybe we just have a high capsaicin tolerance.
The Pan con Tomate is served in an interesting, hands-on manner. Instead of serving chopped marinaded tomatoes on toasts (a la bruschetta), Zsofi leaves cloves of fresh garlic and 2-halves of tomato in the basket of toasts. Before you eat, rub some garlic and tomato on your toast. The full, pungent flavour of garlic stands out easily, so go easy on it.
Though the octopus slices of the Pulpo a la Gallega (boiled octopus served on boiled potatoes, with a dash of paprika) wasn’t ideally springy (I remember hearing it was intended this way), but the natural flavours of the slimy sea creature was retained. I wish the slices were thicker though.
The variety of seafood that comes in the Combinado Mixta Marisco a la plancha is as good as having the sea in a platter. All the quintessential seafood items are in, and you can smell them before they arrive at your table. Apart from the presence of lobster, the dish was simply an honest seafood platter.
It was surprising to learn that the pork selected for Secreto Ibérico is marbled, because it certainly felt tough and dry. That’s all.
Duck and, more importantly, French comes to mind when it comes to confit. Imagine my bewilderment when Pollo was introduced as a chicken confit. The boss quickly explained that this dish was a result of fierce competition between tapas bars in Spain, and the need to innovate and differentiate.
For dessert, we had Churros con chocolate. Unfortunately, the sticks disintegrated even before I could dip it into the chocolate sauce. The outside were crumbly more than crunchy, and the inside flaky more than pillowy. In the end, I had to deploy a fork just so that I could smother the fragile churros in chocolate sauce.
Thank You Yong En from Orbital Group Asia and Zsofi Tapsa and Bar for the invite!
Zsofi Tapas and Bar
68 Dunlop Street