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Don Quijote (say kee-ho-tay) Spanish Restaurant is nestled in the food enclave of Dempsey hill, a hip cluster of retail and lifetsyle outlets in Singapore.
Last Wednesday, I was invited to a food tasting at this Spanish restaurant to try their latest offering: ‘live’ barbeque seafood and meats. Be prepared, this is going to be a long post with a load of pictures. Planned to take place once monthly, this barbie special is a definite must-try.
My friend, Noel (from Noel’s World) and I, arrived at the restaurant around 7pm and were greeted by the inviting smell of an open barbie grilling prawns out by the patio, just in front of the restaurant’s main entrance. A very lovely experience, I must say. Then again, who doesn’t love an open barbie serving piping hot meats and seafood, on a balmy evening?
I enjoyed and loved all the food that was served that night. There was not one dish that needed to be improved upon or didn’t look or taste good. Service was also exceptional. Ken Lim, owner of the restaurant, went around the tables, taking pains to serve and explain each dish that evening.
First, there was the seafood paella and the squid-ink pasta which was phenomenal. The squid ink pasta had a very robust flavour, nothing overpowering and metallic or briny, just a pleasant umami taste that lingered after each bite.
The setup of the spread isn’t like that of a hotel’s where the food is arranged in rows upon rows. This setup is more intimate and far more inviting, where the hot items get replenished as they are cooked a-la-minute, which means one gets fresh, piping hot food. If one is so inclined, one may even engage in playful banter with the chefs standing behind the grilling station.
I am really, really big on grilled squid. It has got to be properly cooked or it will be a mess. That night, I was treated to an (almost) unending supply of grilled squid that was done to perfection. It was sweet, chewy and coupled with a tangy grilled taste that made it an absolutely divine explosion in my mouth with each bite. I had
too many servings of this. My favourite part of the squid has got to be the tentacles which I very fondly call janggut (Malay for beard) because it reminds me of some beards I have seen.
On to something that was the jewel of the evening’s spread – the grilled pork shoulder bliss, also known as the secreto (Spanish for secret). The butcher’s cut known as secreto is a distinct piece, and is the best kept secret of the porcine world.
The photo I took does NO justice to the dish whatsoever. But now, I am finally enlightened as to why this is known as the secret cut – it was the best tasting pork I have encountered yet. And, I have been hankering after it ever since. It was juicy, sweet, tender and mouth-filling with just the right amount of fat, lending it a plump taste. I am relishing its taste again as I type this. This is a must-try if one visits Don Quijote for its once-a-month barbeque special.
Mid conversation and we saw a burst of orange from the grill. I hurried onto to the station to take a look at what was happening. It seems a certain cow was bring grilled. Check out the video here. I really wish videos could emit smells, then you can share the same pleasure I had of watching that hunk of meat being grilled.
Some people don’t fancy lamb. I can understand why, especially if it isn’t prepared or cooked well and more so if it isn’t fresh. These were by far one of the best I have had. And just like the beef, the lamb was pink, juicy and one could taste its natural sweetness.
So what’s a Spanish feast without a little Spanish suckling pig? Well, we were all treated to a spectacle synonymous with Spanish chefs who take pride in the tenderness of their roast pigs and cut them with plates, as in the video below.
Ken describes the food served here as “honest food”. I couldn’t quite understand what he meant until I experienced it first hand. And that would be best described as the finest ingredients cooked with authentic/ traditional recipes (no short cuts) and served with all the warmth and flavour of home cooking.
We ended the evening’s fiesta on a perfect note with hot Churros lightly dipped in a thick chocolate sauce.
This, by far, was one of the most sublime of chow downs I’ve had in a while. It was hearty, tantilising and “honest”. Head onto Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant for the barbeque at Blk 7 Dempsey Road, #01-02 Singapore 249671. Or log onto their Facebook Page for updates on this monthly grill and prices.
Thanks for reading!