Tapas is everything but a light meal especially when downed with a jug of good Sangria. Despite how often I convince myself that this meal is or could be a light affair, I often succumb to the temptation of ordering more than I should. And that’s exactly what happened at this new go-to that I recently discovered in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong or as the locals call it ‘TST.’
Playa De Papagayo is my latest find, in terms of Tapas outlets. Located at Observatory Road just down from the Mira Hotel, next to the Empire Hotel and across from the Audi Showroom, you can’t miss this cute place with its patio setting, bright blue exterior and distinct beach hut hangout feel.
The enterprising owners apparently also own another smaller tapas restaurant of the same name, at Hanoi Road nearby and they also own the fantastic Japanese yakitori restaurant right next door.
Papagayos, as it is called short-form beckons with a fun vibe. It’s not your typical Spanish joint but has a nice laid back feel and if the weather is nice, you can sit outside on the patio where there is casual seating.
Wandering inside, the surprisingly spacious interior has a mix of sofa seats, lounge chairs, high tables with stools and bench seating, amidst the usual tables and chairs.
A neon sign or two, a large open bar and the quirky menu with its beach theme feel add to the chill-out vibe.
The drinks are creative, portions good and not the nasty watered down version you get at most places. In terms of food, the menu is extensive from Spanish Tapas to Soups and Salads, Pastas and Mains, things from their Fire Grill oven and a small selection of dessert. The tapas portions are over-all ‘smallish’. I was not overly impressed with the usual tapas favourites like the Garlic Shrimp and the Octopus. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely tasty but you would need two portions if you are more than 3 people sharing.
However, with a menu this extensive, normal should not be what you order at a restaurant like this. We decided to be adventurous and that spirit landed us some amazing eats like this list of top things to order that we are recommending. We are quite sure that you won’t get tapas like these anywhere else.
1. Foie Gras Terrine, Fig and Rice Crispy Treat – HK$88
This bite-sized gourmet looking morsel looks like its ready to be served at a high end cocktail party. It is the perfect size to daintily pick up with your fingers and pop into your mouth. You get more than a generous bite and an explosion of tastes out of this very decent bite-sized piece of medium-rare foie gras, topped with delicious fig jam, a slice of fig with a delicious popcorn morsel perched on the top. Wash this down with a glass of fruity red and you are immediately ready for another piece. I would definitely order two portions of these as one of these beauties as one plate is simply not enough.
2. Crab Meat and Avocado Roll with Salmon Caviar – HK$88
I am clueless as to how they make the gold coloured gel-like skin that looks like a wonton wrap and envelopes the tasty crab meat and avocado filling inside this almost beautiful h’or oeuvre. Garnished with a dash of mayonnaise and Japanese caviar, this is delicious to the boot.
3. Iberico Ham in Raw Tuna Roll with Half Boiled Egg – HK$78
Not quite a main course, but this is a good sharing portion that you want to order a side of garlic bread for, just to mop up the runny egg. The tuna is just lightly seared, the way you would see it at a Japanese restaurant and really goes well with the egg.
4. Kurabata Pork Chop with Apple Paste – HK$298
This pork dish makes an excellent main course if you are dining alone or slice it up and you have a decent main course to share along with the other tapas treats that you have picked.
5. Spanish Style Beef Ribs – HK$368
The beef on the bone that was served was literally huge. More than adequate for sharing and way too much for one person to finish alone. Beautifully coated and grilled in black sesame seeds, this gave the meat a juicy and tender texture. Definitely, a new favourite meat dish for those with carnivorous leanings, like me.
6. Must-Order Paella – HK$288
We saw many people order this dish which comes served in an impressive Moroccan style tagine instead of the usual paella pan. I was intrigued and ordered the Squid Ink version (not shown in picture – as squid ink does not photograph well) which truly turned out to be one of the best paellas I have ever eaten. Moist, full of exquisite flavour – each bite leaves you abandoning all courtesy so that you can dig your spoon in for another bite. At the end, all I could see was the satisfied smacking of everyone’s slightly-stained black lips.
7. Excellent Sangria, Beer and Creative Cocktails
This restaurant gets my vote for good Sangria. The bartender serves an excellent mix – not too sweet, just the right amount of fruit and definitely enough vino to give it a good ‘kick’ start to a fun evening. My 12 year old swears by the Mango non-alcoholic cocktail.
By the end of the meal and a few more jugs of sangria later, we were too full to try dessert which definitely gives us a reason to return.
Playa De Papagayo is at
Shop N3, G/F, Podium Plaza, 5 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 – 2739 1808
Shop 2 , 5 Observatory Rd Tsim Sha Tsui Tel: +852 – 2323 1379