Local Hong Kong friends recommended that I paid a visit to a rising Spanish restaurant named Mesa 15. They simply told me "go, you will like it". Being Spanish, I always take recommendations for "authentic" Spanish food in Asia with a pinch of salt, but having a fine taste for food as they do, I was piqued by their statement and made a booking.
This said, I'm always far more optimistic about a potential positive visit to a Spanish restaurant in Tokyo and Hong Kong , the 2 food capitals of Asia, than in other big cities such as Shanghai. Over the years, there have been a number of able and convincing Spanish or Spanish-educated practitioners in both cities, and I have regularly had fantastic Spanish fare in Spain-loving Japan, often better than in many places in Spain.
When our waitress came, I asked her if the Chef was Spanish (yes, he is from Almería) and what his name was (Alejandro, she said). The surprise came when, with our dinner underway, the said “Alejandro” came to say hello and we could realize that he was THE Alejandro Sánchez of the eponym Michelin-starred Roquetas de Mar restaurant in the Spanish Southwest coast!
With business in Spain taken care of by his loyals, with regular supervisory visits by the Boss, Alejandro is now busy building himself a name in the Asian restaurant scene. One place already opened in Hong Kong (Mesa 15) and another one opening very soon.
In Mesa 15, we found a very “authentic” menu, with a strong Southern Spain accent. I was craving for Spanish food, as I had not had a decent Spanish meal since Christmas back home, so we went for some of the fool-proof classics: Jamón (very good bellota, hand-cut as it should be, with convincing pan con tomate), Ensaladilla (fresh, with some diced green olives to give it some punch), Croquetas de Jamón (better than my mother’s) and 2 rice dishes: Arroz con Gamba Roja (Red Shrimp rice, cooked with a very specific type of Mediterranean sweet-meat shrimp) and Arroz con Bogavante (Lobster rice).
Rice was cooked to please the local clientele (a bit longer than we are used to in Spain, but fully understandable and still very very good) and flavors were a bit softer as well, again adapting to the local taste. Both rice dishes were delicious.
The wine list was put together with care, and this is something I always look into carefully. Wines were not picked because it was just what the local Distributor had in their listings, there was a rationale and a structure to it, moving from small-vineyard high-quality bubbly (Raventòs i Blanc) to nice whites and a few Rioja and Ribera heavyweight reds.
The Restaurant is set in a nice 2-floor layout, with high tables in the ground floor. Very pleasant decoration and lighting makes things even better.
The best Spanish food I have tasted in Asia in a loooong time and my instant-favorite Spanish place in Asia.