The Hubs is a big fan of Spanish food (owing to their colonial influence on Filipino culture and cuisine). so on New Year’s Eve, we decided to have brunch at Marta’s Kitchen, a Spanish restaurant in Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Marta’s started off as a small restaurant manned by Marta Alonso herself, a former school teacher who hails from Salamanca, Spain. Since then, the brand has grown and is now one of the more popular places for Spanish cuisine in Kuala Lumpur. They recently opened a branch in Lalaport a few months ago.
We dined at the main outlet, located within The Signature Hotel and Serviced Suites. It’s a bright and cheerful space, perfect for family brunches and warm gatherings with friends over a tipple or two. Those dining al fresco can soak in the lush greenery around the restaurant, accompanied by the soothing gurgle of water features.
The interior is spacious, with a lofty ceiling and a glass front allowing for lots of sunlight to filter in. There is also an open bar, as well as a kitchen where diners can watch the chefs in action. The decor is classy, befitting a modern European restaurant, with wine bottles and bull figurines adorning sections of the walls.
The menu is extensive, with a large selection of tapas and platters, plus mains like paellas, ribs, pastas, and desserts to go with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Servers are fast and attentive, although the service can feel clinical at times, with nary a smile.
For starters, we went with the Hummus Con Tempura de Berenjena (RM27).
Served to the table were five thick, battered pieces of aubergine, deep fried to golden perfection on a bed of creamy hummus, drizzled over with a sweet, ‘secret’ homemade sauce. Honest thoughts – very intriguing dish. The batter and the sweet sauce reminded me of goreng pisang, and the aubergine was soft but with a slight bite to it – almost like an unripe banana. The hummus, on the other hand, provided a nice contrast, as it was creamy and savoury.
There are many other tapas to choose from; we were tempted to get items like the classic Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes), Croquetas de Jamon, Spanish omelette, Albondigas (beef meatballs), Gambas al Aljillo (garlic prawns), and Pulpo A La Gallega (Galician style octopus with potatoes and pimenton)
Our paellas took much longer to get to our table, about 40 minutes.
The Hubs had the Valenciana Paella (RM37), which came chock full of shrimp, squid, and a mussel with a side of garlic aioli. The paella was cooked well, with a strong flavour of iodine thanks to the seafood. The large shrimp was fresh, juicy and sweet; although the smaller shrimps within the paella were mushy, not sure if coz they weren’t fresh, or they were overcooked. But the flavours overall were still good.
My Iberico pork paella (RM37) was not what I expected. It wasn’t bad, but the flavours did not taste Spanish to me – more like the braised pork rice you can get in Chinese restaurants. There was an overwhelming taste of pickled vegetables (perhaps from the long beans), which overpowered the earthy taste of the Iberico and the sweetness of the chorizo. The meat was also quite tough. This too came with a side of garlic aioli.
I ended up swapping my paella with the Hubs. He enjoyed this dish, though.
Rounding off the meal on a sweet note, we got a Santiago cake (almond cake), which came with a small dollop of vanilla ice cream. The texture of the cake is similar to a dry butter cake; dense and sweet, with a dusting of sugar on top.
Our meal for two came up to RM117, which is reasonable considering the setting and the quality of food. All in all, a good experience to cap our 2022.
Jalan Sri Hartamas 22, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: 11.30am – 11.30pm