Fun omakase-style tapas dining at Zafran

by: Angie Kwon, Editor
20 Jun 2017

Maybe you’re a spicy food addict, but you can’t eat anything with shellfish. Or maybe you’re a sweet-toothed vegetarian who doesn’t like to eat bell peppers in particular. Tapas restaurant Zafran has a new omakase-style dining concept that reads your taste profile and composes a meal tailored just for you.

At HK$498 you get five omakase dishes, bring a friend along and that’s 10 dishes to try. Go down to the basement, pass the burgundy couches and the open kitchen, you’ll find yourself at a 10-seater bar hidden away at the cosiest corner of the restaurant. Ask for the “Tapas in Caracas” at the bar, and the head chef, Miguel, will introduce you to the taste map.

In true omakase fashion, there is no actual ‘menu’. But they do have a cute chart with a pinwheel of different taste profiles. While my company went for the full omakase, as he could eat anything (for that extra surprise element).  I took the novelty to have fun creating my own flavour profile. I asked for a low carb option with a choice of vegetables of any kind, seafood but no cooked fish, and meaty with a focus on gamey flavours. We were excited to see what kind of menu the chef will conjure for us...

Image attributed to: epicurushongkong
Miguel first served us with mussels escabeche with coriander and mint. This one’s been their signature at the restaurant for a while, it's a must-have, fresh mussels are fried and marinated in a variety of oils, coriander and mint. All the careful preparation results in each mussel to be packed with flavour (with a zesty kick).

The passion fruit sea bass ceviche was a delicious marriage of land and sea: the sweetness of the passion fruit complemented the buttery ‘neutral’ taste of the sea bass. Sea bass is a great first choice for ceviche, firm and fleshy, while it does ‘cook’ in the citrus juices of the ceviche-ing process, it retains its individual flavour. This paired with passion fruit leaves a sweet-rather-than-citrusy note, one can presume this was why the category for ‘fruity’ appears on the taste map rather than ‘sweet’.

Image attribution to: epicurushongkong

The sweet corn purée Iberico ham and Hokkaido scallops was the highlight of the evening. We were served two lightly cooked Hokkaido scallops with an Iberico ham hat. The sweet corn puree harmonises with the olive-y taste of the Iberico ham and the pillowy texture of the scallops. The fried egg foie gras and pine nuts was a pleasant surprise. We popped the juicy egg onto the perfectly cooked foie gras. The richness of the foie gras surprisingly suited the country flavours of the fried egg and crunchy pine nuts. Overall, the omakase at Zafran was an intimate and interactive taste experience perfect for a small group or a quiet but delightful date

The full ten dishes we were served were as follows:

Mussels escabeche with coriander and mint 
Lentil Iberico ham salad and blow torch sardines 
Passion fruit sea bass ceviche 
Sweet corn purée Iberico ham and Hokkaido scallops dfsfsd
Iberico pork belly caramelized onions and baby Cuttle fish 
Fried egg foie gras and pine nuts 
Grilled duck breast chimichurri sauce and green asparagus 
Iberico pork pluma Jerusalem artichokes purée Colombian rum and plum sauce 
Pistachio custard and berries jam 
Santiago almond cake and toffee foam