Usually when my friends come to Hong Kong to visit me, I take them to my top recommended places for experiencing true Hong Kong cuisine, whether it be a typical cha chaan teng for breakfast, the best egg tarts, amazing dim sum, or unique to Hong Kong foods like roast goose. I almost never bring them to a western restaurant.
However, we made an exception for one set of very close friends. These friends love food as much as we do, and appreciate things they can't get easily in Boston. In this case, the draw was Galician beef - the coveted beef from older cows in Galicia, Spain praised for its deep and intense flavor.
Bryan and I had enjoyed Galician beef once, at Blue's Butcher & Meat Specialist (and it was good!). However, the version at La Rambla was even more intriguing. It was dry aged for 90-120 days (!). Both Bryan and his friend absolutely love the funky flavors of dry-aged beef. Their favorite steak in the world came from Carnevino in Las Vegas (now closed), whose Riserva steaks were dry aged for around eight months.
We knew we couldn't exactly recreate 8-month old dry aged steak for them, but at least we could give them a chance to taste one of the most famous beef in the world dry aged for still quite a long time.
I fell in love with the Pain de Cristal con Tomate (HKD 75), toasted slices of bread brushed with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Pain the cristal is hard to make, and up until this point I had never seen it in Hong Kong. In fact, the only other time I've had such amazing Pain de cristal was at Jaleo by José Andres.
Pan de cristal (literally “crystal bread”) is an extremely light, airy, and crispy bread from Spain. It’s a ton of work to make the bread. In Spain, they have these special machines that stretch the dough like bubble gum over and over again. The constant stretching causes the dough to incorporate tons of air pockets, which really gives it a unique texture.
The bread is airy, light, and has lots of holes, which soak up the fresh tomatoes and olive oil so well.
Steamed Razor Clams (HKD 200) came topped with apple and cucumber marinated in ponzu, soy pearls, and caviar. It was delicate, light, and very nice.
They have one of my favorite brands of Bellota jamon Iberico from Jabugo, 5J (pronounced cinco hotas in Spanish) (HKD360). They serve it the traditional way, painstakingly hand cut. It was fantastic.
We ordered a small Lobster Paella with calamari, clams, and 3XL Carabineros (Small HKD550 Large HKD650). The flavors were fantastic, though we wished for a bit more char at the bottom, The blue lobster was excellent,, though the calamari was overcooked.
Rubia Gallega beef comes from cows who are between 12 and 18 years old and spend their lives grazing salt pastures in a stress-free environment. There are one of only a handful of restaurants in Asia who offer this special meat, and La Rambla is one of them.
We decided to order two Txuleta from Lomo Alto (HKD 1350 each). One we asked for rare, while the other we asked for medium rare. We thought it would be interesting to compare.
Our verdict? The texture of the rare one was better since it was more tender. Perhaps it's because these old cows do not have much fat, it's easier for the meat to taste a bit dry if it's cooked just a bit more. However, the rare steak did not have a good enough char on the outside. Either the grill was not hot enough, or they were so afraid of overcooking the steak they did not leave it on the grill long enough for it to develop a good char.
The medium rare steak had a deeper, funky, dry aged flavor and much better char compared to the rare steak.
So, it really depends on what you like. We enjoyed very much and essentially finished everything.
All in all, I really enjoyed this restaurant. I liked it during lunch, and it did not disappoint for dinner. The steak is special, especially if you appreciate the funky flavors that come from long dry-aged beef. I loved the pain de cristal (love how I can get it here!), and of course the jamon Iberico is fantastic.
La Ramba IFC
3071-3073, 3/F, IFC Mall
8 Finance Street, Central
This is the sixteenth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.
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[…] gotten a little spoiled here on Hong Kong island, especially Wan Chai, with all the excellent Spanish restaurants within a stone’s throw of our home. However, there was a time a few months ago […]