From meticulously conceived tapas, to truffle oil cheesesteak
Osito is a big, bright, part-brick bar space whose main wall is currently filled with the results of drinkers’ votings for a “World Cup of Gin”, pitting high-end brands against one another tournament-style. The dress code and table settings are casual, the rock music blares, the signage outside touts cheesesteak and Reuben sandwiches, the cramped kitchen is partly open and seemingly inadequate for producing serious meals. But don’t be fooled by appearances, or you might miss some of the most meticulously conceived and created dishes in the entire Kingdom.
The reason is the young, German-born but conspicuously internationalized, chef Daniel Bucher, a happy escapee from the high pressure world of hotel executive chefs who proves with every small plate of tapas that he is obviously overqualified for his current job. While the lunch and late-night staples on his playful, thin, rough paper booklet of a menu are bocadillos (glorified sandwiches), burgers and pan crostadas (open-face toasts), the amount of Spanish flavour and locally sourced ingredients that he packs into these are astounding. And the rest of his efforts are concentrated on larger dishes that expand his love of “the simple yet powerful flavours of Spain” in as many directions as a plate can hold.
Scallops in a shell (B360) are topped with charred chorizo chunks. On Osito’s upcoming menu, luscious Hokkaido scallops will be served in a cold cucumber salad dosed with intense cilantro oil. Chef Bucher is also planning to try out pork cubes smoked in espresso beans, stuffed ox-cheeks or goat cheese espuma, as well as a nod to Asia in the form of duck dumplings in yuzu consomme (no prices as yet). Other tapas items include the Sevillian Salsa, try it as the base of a salad (B195), and the lavender crema catalana (B180). Look closely in the mock typewriter print and you’ll find enough to explore for a lifetime. Perhaps it’s his German roots, but Bucher isn’t apologetic in the flavour of his meats, yet his artichokes and red peppers can be as delicately Japanesque as they come.
Bucher shows his further skill by hitting the perfect crunchy texture with his variants on an arroz cremoso, or Spanish risotto—including one scrumptiously loaded with blood sausage, cured pork belly and baby carrots (B340). His aplomb with rice also extends to a rice pudding so loaded with cream, cinnamon, and accompanying jars of nuts and dulce de leche that it can end a meal well with a single thick scoop (B170). His research trips to Iberia have also yielded a Spanish brick of foie gras that he amplifies Spanish-style with green olives, candied Thai chestnuts, and a clear gel of vermouth—to be featured on his next upcoming menu. And yes, there’s even one of the world’s best Cheesesteaks (B520), that’s more French than Philly, loaded with highgrade beef and truffle oil in place of melted Velveeta.
by John Krich
Osito Unique Spanish
888/23-24 Mahatun Plaza, Ploenchit Rd
Tel: 02 651 4399
Open daily: 11:30am-11:30pm