|CN PHOTO: Terence Jr Lee|
619 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: +65 6463 2810
Paella takes centerstage at this Spanish restaurant.
For authentic paella, look no further than My Little Spanish Place at Bukit Timah Rd. Replacing The Cellar Door, it delivers a variety of tapas, ranging from the familiar to the more exotic.
The restaurant is a small 50-seater with warm lights and a low ceiling. You feel as if you’ve stepped into a Spanish tavern. The impression is reinforced by the rows of wine bottles on display.
Their tapas pale in comparison to the Paella, but they whet the appetite and stimulate conversation.
The Tortilla arrived a little cold, but its savory crust was tasty, especially when accompanied by the Aioli. The Pimientos (peppers) were slightly too mild, served on soft, crusty bread that could do with a little more crunch. Caracoles (Snails) were served in a rich broth flavored with jamon and chorizo. The caracoles were plump and moist but sadly lacking in flavor, which seemed to have seeped out into the rich broth, making it perfect with bread.
The Patatas Bravas (literally “fierce potatoes”) were a welcome dish—hot, crunchy with a spicy sauce that enlivened the dish. The Squid Stuffed with Caramelised Onions was interesting—the tender squid with the burnt-caramel sweetness of the onions presented a unique flavor combination that I liked.
Among the tapas, two characters stole the show. The Aioli was flavor-packed but not overpoweringly garlicky; well-balanced and piquant, with a mellow sweetness. It redeemed the otherwise too-salty Tortilla, and seemed to be the base for the spicy sauce in the Patatas Bravas. Later, when eaten with the paella, the Aioli completely changes the taste of the dish, like a good wine. Definitely a must-try.
The second show-stealer was the Filetes Rusos. I had my doubts initially: minced meat patties are usually “kid’s menu” fodder, but these swept me away. The well-spiced Filet had a loose, open texture inside, and its well-crusted exterior was browned nicely. The meat was rich and smooth, making the melted layer of cheese on top seemed extraneous.
]The meal is well-paced, with dishes following one after the other. By the time you’re done with the tapas, the Paella will have arrived. Taking around 40 minutes, each Paella is individually made a la minute (each is made only when the order is placed). Risotto’s cousin, paella, is traditionally made with saffron, rice and olive oil. Here, you can have it “house style,” with seafood, or with squid ink. Feeling adventurous, we decided to try the Arroz Negro (literally, black rice).
The Paella arrives in its pan, fresh off the stove. The rice is tasty, and packed with subtle flavour from the stock. Upon tasting it, my dining companion remarked that it was like “Singaporean sa-po-fun (claypot rice).” Indeed, the edges and bottom of the pan had that characteristic almost-burnt, smoky flavor. Seafood was plentiful—squid and clams were nestled in the paella. The mussels on top were bursting with flavor. Following Chef Maria’s advice, we mixed the Aioli into the Paella. Garlicky and wonderful, the Aioli brings the best out of the seafood. The Paella defines “more-ish”: You’re full to the brim, but you just have to take that next spoonful. At S$38 for two people, this dish is a must-have.
With enthusiastic staff and cozy setting, My Little Spanish Place highly qualifies as a date-worthy location.