|Restaurant Gaig Singapore|
The crazy days of back-to-back tapas bar openings may be over but our curiosity for all things Spanish, Catalan or Basque has been piqued.
|Carls Giag (left) and Esteve Garcia Vilanova (right)|
Enter Restaurant Gaig (“Gaig”) at Stanley Street, an offshoot of the Barcelona-based one Michelin starred restaurant of the same name opened by Carles Gaig shortly after the end of his two-year consulting stint with La Ventana. While the Catalan chef will be making bi-monthly appearances at his Singapore outpost, his daughter Nuria Gibert runs the floor at this charming Mediterranean-inspired white washed space and head chef, Esteve Garcia Vilanova, a five-year Gaig veteran, presides over the kitchen.
While it is completely possible to come here for the ubiquitous tapas bites of Jamon iberico croquettes, patatas bravas and paper thin slices of Jamon Iberico de Bellota Joselito ham, we suggest that you veer off familiar favourites to try some of the Catalan and Basque inspired family-style dishes.
Traditional cannelloni, the Barcelona restaurant’s headline dish since its opening in 1869, is the one to order. The Barcelona-made cylindrical fresh pasta stuffed with three-hour braised beef and pork arrives at the table doused in a pristine-white savoury sauce of cream and chicken stock flecked with black truffles. Even if you are not a fan of all-cream pastas, this velvety pasta made with a 150-year-old recipe may change your mind.
Singaporeans have chilli crabs and intriguingly, Gaig brings the Baque country’s “Spanish chilli crab” to us via Txangguro. The Singapore-bought mud crab is boiled, shelled, slow-cooked with sofrito and “cooked” at the salamander with a topping of Hollandaise sauce for a creamy and moist finish. Served in its own shell, the Txanggurro is not exactly fitting our description of a chilli crab dish, but it’s worth your consideration for an unusually riveting crab snack.
One of the main draws at Gaig is its menu of classic Catalan stews.
A highlight is the perfectly gelatinous pig’s trotter – boiled and deboned pig’s trotter layered with roasted deboned beef shank, rolled-up, sliced and seared to order. Served with turnip and mushrooms in a hearty and profoundly intense trotter jus, this is Catalan food for the soul.
Instead of serving the “all-i-pebre” with eels as they typically do in Albuferra, Spain, Gaig serves the thick and savoury seafood sauce of blitzed garlic, pimento and peppers with shrimps. It’s not unlike gambas al ajillo but more rustic and nutty in flavour. Richer too.
To conclude, Gaig fields an Escoffier recipe of orange “souffle” that he has perfected. It has the texture of a delicate ice cream cake and tastes distinctly of orange sans the sourness. According to Nuria Gibert, they use a creme anglaise recipe but replace water in the recipe with orange juice. While we generally prefer a more zesty orange dessert, we can’t complain about this orange souffle. It has a certain theatre about its presentation and it certainly is tasty.
With the now defunct Catalunya out of the picture, we think we’ve found our a reliable substitute for hearty Catalan fare in Singapore. If this spot-on execution persists, we won’t be surprised to find the anonymous Michelin inspectors prowling Stanley Street anytime soon.
16 Stanley Street, Singapore 068 735 | +65-6221 2134.