One of the best restaurants where I had the privilege of eating was Tapella by Gaudi which serves authentic Spanish food and is conveniently located at Greenbelt 5. Although I have been a student of the language for years, I hardly had much experience with real Spanish food outside of the staple paella that we used to always celebrate our end-of-level classes with. So, Spanish food? ¡Sí, por favor!
Our food was served in courses and the first was the salads. The Ensalada Tapella, made of salad greens, tomatoes and corn and then drizzled with a special Tapella dressing, was good for 1 to 2 persons. The dressing was light and highlighted the freshness of the salad greens. I just love colorful salads; they make me feel like I’m getting a myriad of vitamins and minerals. The second salad was the Mediterranean Salad with Caesar’s Dressing. It’s not as fantastic – less colorful – as the Tapella Salad though its serving size was still good for at least 2.
Then came the food I was most excited for: Mango Gazpacho with Salmon Roe and Crab <insert 2 thumbs up signs here please>. It was my first time to eat gazpacho and I will treasure this experience forever. Gazpacho is like soup left in the fridge but it’s still very yummy after. The idea of cold soup is just totally out of this world for me so I have always been excited to try it since I read it in one of my Spanish books. As its name suggests, there’s salmon roe, crab meat and a mango-y soup base. The mango taste was very salient, making the soup actually refreshing – a really good choice for summer.
Meanwhile, the Muslos de pollo frito or chicken lollipops with aioli dip was already very flavorful even without the sauce. It was very tasty and would just bring out the kid in anyone. Eat with your fingers for maximum enjoyment. Tee-hee!
Another favorite among the tapas was the Chorizo Picante a la plancha or spicy chorizo on top of boiled potatoes with olive oil and mojo verde sauce. The spiciness of the sausage was complemented well by the potato, but still leaving the dish savory enough to keep you asking for more. On the other hand, its cousin dish Morcilla de Cebolla a la plancha, or morcilla sausage with onions on top of boiled potatoes, proved to be too exotic for me. Though I am no stranger to pig’s blood (hello, dinuguan!), I found the morcilla sausage’s texture and taste to be too weird for me.
The other version of morcilla also failed to capture the whimsy of my taste buds: Huevos con morcilla sisig, made of blood sausage sisig with fried egg on a bed of shoestring fries. All these should be mixed together for an explosion of texture and flavor. Unfortunately, the whole thing was on the bland side and was a too oily for me.
Meanwhile, one of the restaurant’s bestsellers is the Pote Gallego which is a hot stew made of Galician bean, pork, chorizo and vegetables. It is a simple soup that reminds me of home cooking.
Another tapa I loved was the Chopitos Fritos which were deep-fried baby squid. Best eaten by drizzling those chopitos with lemon, then rolling them inside the lettuce before dipping into the aioli sauce. YUM, I tell you!
For the main course, we had three different rice dishes. The first was Arroz Sobrassada which is a Spanish chorizo paella served with a fine herb sauce, topped with asparagus and potato chips. It tasted a bit on the salty side so I highly recommend using the lemons to mellow that out. The second (and my favorite!) was Arroz Manchego, made with chicken, asparagus, shrimp and manchego cheese. I love broccoli and asparagus and I just love manchego on broccoli. It really had a lot going on in that pan and it would really feel like getting your money’s worth if you order this. Unfortunately, our third rice dish, the Paella de Marisco, or seafood paella, paled in comparison with the arroz manchego. In all the three rice dishes though, it’s important to note that the rice quality had been the same for all: just right, neither dry nor soggy.
And just then, the Chef brought out the Angus beef, to be grilled Villagodio-style. The Angus beef was seasoned only with salt and tasted so good when cooked at medium well. It went well with the red pimiento and patatas a la pobre. A good thing to remember is that Tapella by Gaudi can also cut off the fat parts and toast them upon request.
As if the meal was just starting, a huge lapu-lapu was suddenly brought out and I was introduced to Lapu-Lapu a la sal or salt-baked lapu-lapu. It’s amazing that by just burying lapu-lapu in salt, it can become as good as baked. All its flavors intact and augmented by the salt. I loved it! The one thing that made it even better? A drop of lemon. (Important Note: this dish requires ordering a day ahead.)
Of course, there’s always room for dessert. And what better way to end this parade of great food than by eating the best dessert as hailed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer: Tocino del Cielo. Reminiscent of the Filipino leche flan, this Spanish dessert is on the denser and creamier side with just the right amount of sugar to seal a delectable meal.
And so my night ended, my stomach full of delicious food and my mind filled new information about this wonderful cuisine. I just hope that, eventually, I would come to savor these same dishes in the Reino de España.
Special thanks to Aldous of Aldous Ate the World for this wonderful opportunity.
***All photos were taken using iPhone6
Tapella by Gaudi
G/F Greenbelt 5, Legaspi St
Legazpi Village, 1228 Makati
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:00am – 1:00am