Spanish cuisine is one of the most popular in the world and it would be a grave mistake to think that the only dishes the country is known for are tortilla and paella. That’s not to say that these aren’t the most delicious examples of how simple ingredients like eggs, potatoes and rice can be utilised to great culinary effect...if done correctly!
Marta’s Kitchen has recently moved to spanking new premises just across where the original restaurant was, which is a testament to the phenomenal success it’s enjoying. As with every successful eatery, there’s always a struggle to keep diners happy and returning, and to ensure that quality, price and taste is always on point. I can confidently say that I have never had a bad meal here; and if the Spanish eat here and sing its praises too, then who are we to disagree?
Proprietor/chef Marta takes real pride in her food and uses quality ingredients and produce. Tapas and paella are what diners come for and the selection of small eats offers everything from the easily recognisable, like tortilla and the classic Spanish omelette, to the more elaborate combinations like pork loin with Manchego cheese and Iberico ham.
The restaurant itself is a bright, happy space and is often packed, particularly during weekend nights. Having gone recently with people who hadn’t had the pleasure, we went to town with the menu and the standout dish that night was the pulpo a la Gallega. This is the signature dish of the region of Galicia in the northwest of Spain and is basically boiled octopus on a bed of mashed potato sprinkled with sea salt, olive oil and pimento (Spanish paprika). Even if you think you don’t like octopus because it’s chewy, Marta’s version is tender and very fresh.
Croquetas are another great Spanish culinary institution. Simply put, these are deep-fried balls of luscious béchamel (thicker than what is usually used for sauces) and you can have them here with either mushroom and chicken or ham. Chances are you may need more than one serving!
Pimientos de Padron are peppers (usually not too spicy) from Galicia, simply pan-fried till they blister before being served with sea salt and olive oil. This is a dish not often found in Spanish restaurants abroad so be sure to order a plate at Marta’s and look out for the renegade spicy one!
Veering away from the tapas, diners come here for one of the most famous Spanish dishes – paella. Named after the flat pan it’s cooked in, this native of Valencia (the rice-growing area of Spain), is a heady combination of rice, chicken, seafood and vegetables flavoured with saffron. There are two types on offer here – the classic Valenciana and the squid ink version.
You’ve done the tapas and paella so on to dessert! The churros here are undoubtedly the most popular end to the meal. They’re light, perfectly fried and best eaten piping hot. I prefer them with sugar and cinnamon but it’s said that with melted Valrhona chocolate, they’re pretty damn good too! CARAMELLA SCARPA The Signature, Jalan Sri Hartamas 22, Desa Sri Hartamas Tel: 03-6411 0832 www.facebook.com/martaskitcheninklpaellabar