If you try to research Zurriola online, you’ll see that the restaurant’s gone through a bit of an identity crisis as of late: its Facebook says Modern European, the website describes the food as avant-garde Spanish dishes, and reviews on Openrice.com call it an “Italian fine-dining experience”. According to Executive Chef Daniel Birkner – formerly Chef de Cuisine at the Harbour Grand and Butchers Club – the restaurant’s official stance is now European fusion after unsuccessfully marketing the concept of Spanish fine-dining, or a higher-end version of its neighbour and sister restaurant Tapagria.
Personally, I care less about labels and more about the quality of the food. Zurriola definitely hit the mark: well-balanced classic dishes brought to life with fresh, seasonal ingredients and innovative cooking methods.
We popped in on a Sunday evening, and were surprised to find a small, intimate dining room with a completely different feel than its boisterous neighbor Tapagria, both located on the 18/F of The One mall in TST. The restaurant was empty save for one other couple in the corner, but my fears of being the only ones dining were immediately laid to rest as our first dishes arrived at the table.
To start the meal, we were served a selection of amuse-bouches, including an airy and light mousse, roast beef, and a fried mushroom croquette that exploded in the mouth with an intense umami flavour.
From the small but versatile a la carte menu, we chose a selection of tapas to share (which the restaurant conveniently cut into half portions for us), starting with Octopus with Garden Vegetables, Avocado Ice Cream and Crispy Veal. This was beautifully presented and while I’m not the biggest fan of raw veggies or avocado, this dish definitely won points for innovation. My favourite part of the dish was the crispy veal cubes, but I can definitely see adventurous eaters delighting over the avocado ice cream.
Next we tried the Pan Seared Scallops with Celeriac, Celery and Green Apple. Again, I enjoyed the careful plating and presentation of this dish, with the paper thin apples lending a sweetness and crunch to the fresh, lightly seared scallops. The celeriac puree was smooth and creamy, rounding out this beautiful appetiser.
Finally, from the appetisers selection, we tried the Homemade Linguini with Lemon Emulsion, Egg Yolk and Sea Bass Roe. In my opinion, a good pasta needs very few ingredients to shine through, and this was the perfect example of that. Simple and light, this dish was a pasta-lovers dream- chewy homemade linguine coated through with a thin and creamy layer of egg yolk and the sprinkle of roe providing a salty bite.
The entree portion of the menu consists of six options: lamb rump, a turbot and ham sandwich, sea bass, beef tenderloin, crispy pork belly, and stuffed pigs trotter. The crispy pork belly was calling out to us, but ultimately we decided to go with Beef Tenderloin and Bone Marrow for our main meat course (I can never resist bone marrow!).
Our tenderloin arrived a perfect medium-rare, a succulent piece of meat topped with even more indulgent bone marrow and a silky butter-infused celeriac puree that I’m still dreaming about…
For seafood, we ordered the Pan-Fried Sea Bass, which was another winning combination with wild fennel and smashed potato. I found the crispy fish scales on top a bit unappealing, but pushing this to the side gave way to tender, flavourful meat which was enhanced by the crisp wild fennel and silky-smooth butter-laden sauce.
At this point, Chef Daniel must have read our minds, as he brought out two half-portions of the Crispy Pigs Trotter, which I’ll be forever grateful he did not let me leave the restaurant without trying! The pigs trotter was beautifully prepared with a light and crispy – but not oily – coating, and the sides all complemented the star of the show beautifully, from the creamy green pea mash to the sweet caramlised onions.
At this point, we were much too stuffed to consider dessert (gasp!) but I’ll definitely come back to sample the Mando Delice with Pomelo, Passion Fruit and Coconut, or the Caramelized Banana with Salted Caramel.
Zurriola shares an outdoor terrace with Tapagria next door, and is hands-down one of the best places I’ve found on the Kowloon-side to enjoy unobstructed views of the Hong Kong harbour and skyline:
With appetisers ranging from $100-200 and mains averaging $300, this is not the cheapest date in Hong Kong, but well worth it for the stunning view, professional service, and quality of food and drinks. In addition, the terrace is just too pretty not to enjoy a cocktail or two!
Spanish, French or Italian, Zurriola is proving its ability to fuse influences from all regions into fresh, innovative cooking, and that beats any need for labels in my book.
Zurriola, 18/F, The One, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2253 7111