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Spanish and European Fusion @ La Cocina Restaurant & Tapas Bar, Taipan, Subang

Unlike Italian or Japanese, there aren’t as many Spanish restaurants around the Klang Valley — pricey places like Marta’s Kitchen in Bangsar, or chain restaurants like La Bodega usually come to mind. Pre-pandemic, my favourite was Tapas Club at Pavilion KL (their gambas al ajillo was divine!), but sadly, the restaurant closed some time in 2020.

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It was by pure chance that the Hubs and I found La Cocina Restaurant and Tapas Bar — we were in Taipan to look for craft supplies — but it looked like a good spot for lunch, so we popped in. According to its website, the restaurant is helmed by a Swiss-trained chef/owner, and since it has been around for over two decades (in different locations), we had high expectations.

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The interior is cosy, with a bar in one corner (it opens in the evenings), dark tiled floors, brick pillars, and tall windows that allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. I also like the Spanish touches like the posters and paintings of matadors and flamenco dancers, Spanish flags, etc. The ambience upstairs, where there is an outdoor terrace, is very romantic — so you can consider booking a spot for date nights.

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The menu is extensive, with a large selection of tapas (appetisers), sopas (soups), and mains such as paellas, meats, seafood, pastas, and even vegetarian dishes. You can check out the full menu here.

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Wanted something soupy, so I went for the Sopas de Maricos (Mixed Seafood Soup) (RM23.90). The dish came chock full of seafood — shrimps, mussel, clams, squid, and fish fillet, swimming in a light, tomato saffron broth. It was warm and hearty, especially when paired with the basket of bread that was served together with it. The flavours were well balanced too — although there was quite a lot of garlic in it, this did not overwhelm the lightness of the tomato saffron broth. Solid (pun intended) bowl of soup!

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The hubs had Prawn Aglio Olio pasta (RM33.90). Not strictly Spanish, but good nonetheless. The portion was very generous, with huge prawns and lots of mushrooms. Tasted great too; pasta was done al-dente, nice balance of olive oil and garlic, not too greasy. If there’s anything I would tone down on, it would be the parsley.

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We also got fried calamari to share. They were fresh, springy to the bite, and crispy on the outside. Loved the dip it was served with, which was creamy and tangy.

There are many other items on La Cocina’s menu that we have yet to try, but I’m looking forward to it the next time I’m in Taipan; especially the paellas. Service is friendly, and although prices are above average, they are competitive in comparison with some of the higher-end Spanish restaurants.

LA COCINA

1, Jalan USJ 10/1e, Taipan Business Centre, 47620 Subang Jaya, Selangor

lacocina.com.my

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PS2: Opinions here are entirely my own.

Tapas Club, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur – Authentic Spanish Food

[UPDATE: This restaurant is permanently closed.]

The Spanish food scene in KL may not be as well established as, say, Italian or French – but it has been steadily gaining popularity in the last few years. One of the newer places is Tapas Club @ Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, a lively spot where you can share a few glasses of wine with friends, and of course, lots of tapas.

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Prior to this visit, I had literally zero experience with Spanish food, so I was surprised (and pleased) to have won an Instagram contest organised by the restaurant, to host two people for a Wine Tasting (worth RM120++ each). Of course I had to bring N; him having worked at a wine company and also being from the Philippines where they have a strong Spanish influence in their cuisine.

Two hours later after a horrendous jam (the roads were flooded in the city), we were finally at the restaurant. Already I loved the ambience – the wall racks lined with fine wines, the colourful streamers hanging from the ceiling which lent the whole space a festive vibe, as well as the cosy, ambient lighting.

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We had four wines for the night: Arzuaga Rosae 2018, Fan D Oro 2017, La Planta 2017 and Tinto Arzuaga Crianza 2016. I’m not much of an alcohol drinker, but if I had to, I prefer wine over other spirits. The first was the Arzuaga Rosae, a mild rose-wine from the Ribera del Duoro region, one of Spain’s “11 quality wine regions”. It was fruity and light, with a long finish and subtle floral hints.

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The wine tasting also included three complimentary plates of tapas and a plate of cheese. The ham and mushroom croquettes were extremely addictive, with a crispy, breaded crust and a creamy blend of ham and mushroom, respectively.

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Fan D Oro 2017 is a creamy, balanced white wine that is ideal for seafood, cured cheeses, white meats and vegetables. We paired it with Spanish omelette and cod fish, as well as the cheese which came served with crackers. The latter was absolutely divine; drizzled over with a dash of olive oil, the block of cheese was rich and more creamy than salty.

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La Planta 2017 was N’s favourite. He drank both his glass and mine. I had stopped drinking by then (designated driver + bad with alcohol; I break out into hives).

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Was still feeling hungry so I ordered another tapas – the highly recommended Gambas Allajilo (Garlic Prawns) (RM25). 

If you’re ever here and could only order one tapas – this is it. Everything we had was tasty, but this was easily the best dish of the night. Not only were the prawns sizable (and peeled, for all you lazy folks out there), they were also coated in a beautifully rich and addictive garlic sauce. I know tapas is all about sharing, but this was one of those dishes I could have finished all on my own. Maybe order a couple more if you’re here with friends!

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For mains, we had the Arroz Negro (squid ink) paella (RM68). Served in a huge pan with squid and clams, the dish could easily feed two or three people. The seafood flavour was actually pretty subtle, and the rice had a great texture. Of course, the best bits were the soccarat, which is the hardened layer at the bottom of the pan.

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We also had entertainment from these two very talented chaps.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Tapas Club, and will definitely be making a return trip soon. Even if you’re not a wine drinker, the food here is awesome and tastes authentic. A great place to get acquainted with the flavours of Spanish cuisine.

Thank you very much again for hosting us!

TAPAS CLUB 

Lot 7.01.01, Level 7 @ Dining Loft, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, 168, Bukit Bintang Street, Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur

Phone: +603 2110 2718

Opening hours (daily): 10.30AM – 10 PM

tapasclub.com/malaysia

*Photos not watermarked taken by N.