Authentic Spanish tastes at very affordable prices
Tapas have proven a universally popular concept, in part because most cultures have a version of small dishes people can share. Bangkok has a slim history with Spanish restaurants, compared with other European cuisines, so El Tapeo is telling Thai customers to think of it as an izakaya, a place for either a drink and quick bite after work, or a full meal with friends.
Spanish co-owner Jorge Arnanz envisioned this variety of uses in the design, with a bright bar upon entering, complete with an Estrella Galicia female statue in front of the tap. The mezzanine is meant to evoke Andalusia with the design of its floor tiles and plates on the wall. The 3rd floor is more spread out, with pictures of Madrid plazas displayed, perhaps conjuring up Puerta del Sol.
The restaurant uses mostly local ingredients, except when the chef—a native of Spain—knows there is not a sufficient Thai substitute for the flavour, such as with Padrón Green Peppers (B150), a specialty from Galicia. Simply cooked with oil and salt, every 10 or so will have a random spicy one, giving someone in your party a special surprise.
The Gazpacho (B130) was so creamy and heavy it could have doubled as a salad dressing. The thick, delicious mixture did not skimp on the garlic. The Grilled Squid with Garlic Mayonnaise Aioli (B150) was fresh, avoiding the rubbery texture that sometimes plagues Bangkok restaurants.
Huevos Rotos (B250), or “broken eggs”, requires the fried eggs and Iberico ham strips to be mixed up with the very thin fried vpotatoes they lay on top of. The dish is then topped with fish extruded into the shape of baby eels, and the potatoes are so thin and salty it is reminiscent of eating mashed up crisps.
Gambas Al Ajillo (B150), or garlic prawns served in chili oil, is the classic tapas dish. Just being able to dip the bread into that luscious chili oil was a treat. Open-faced sandwiches, or tostas, are another staple of tapas cuisine, and the Iberico Ham version (B250), with tomato and extra virgin olive oil, offers a good mix of saltiness and acidity. But the revelation of the meal was the Grilled Brie Cheese Topped with Carmelized Sweet Onion (B150) that had been marinated and cooked in white wine. The onion was so sweet one would swear it was topped with sugar.
The Chocolate Lava Cake (B180), sprinkled with Spanish almond nougat and served with vanilla ice cream, was the perfect mix of bitter and sweet—a fitting end to the meal. Be sure to ask for a complimentary digestif, which is currently a proprietary blend of rum cream.
A litre of Sangria (B550), which is red wine, lemonade, spirits and fresh fruit, went well with all of the dishes.
By Robin Banks
159/10, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Tel: 02 052 0656
Open: Sun, Tue-Thu, 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat, 11:30am-1am