Tapas Club Malaysia @ Pavilion

July 9, 2018

Pavilion's latest restaurant takes customers on a satisfying tapas crawl that remains true to the Spanish culinary spirit of sharing small plates with big flavours: A year after first opening at Singapore's Orchard Central and one month after embarking into Jakarta's Setiabudi One, Tapas Club lands in another Southeast Asian mall, making KL its third capital conquest.

Originally founded by chefs Jose Alonso (executive chef of Singapore's Binomio) and Manuel Berganza (who previously spearheaded New York City's Michelin-starred Andanada), Tapas Club aims to bring both affordability and authenticity in its cooking. The kitchen in Kuala Lumpur has been entrusted to Mallorca-born chef Gabriel Bonnin, dishing out a comprehensive menu that completely mirrors Singapore's.

Come ravenous; Tapas Club promises a slew of intriguing temptations, some familiar to Malaysian fans of Spanish fare, others tinged with a sense of reinvention. With more than two dozen tapas to try, start with the porcine pleasures of the suckling pig, deep-fried to a moreish crispness, balanced with Catalan-style steamed spinach (RM27), and the grilled pork ribs, which boast a clean, peel-off-the-bone tenderness, with a choice of fibre that could comprise Brussels sprouts (RM55).

The selection is extensive, with seafood well-represented by more addictive choices, the sort of snacks to keep us munching all evening - the chorizo-stuffed squid is a smash, far from rubbery, plump with punchy-tasting minced sausage (RM29), while the baby squid is terrifically battered for maximum textural pleasure, made even more fulfilling with fava beans and butifarra sausage slices (RM27). Even a relatively conventional staple like garlic prawns is worth sampling, with reasonably nuanced flavours that do justice to the Spanish cookbook (RM26).

Tapas Club's egg offerings form a trinity of should-orders: Smash the yolks and mix them up to imbue a savoury creaminess into everything from sauteed mushrooms (RM21) to a can't-fail combo of potatoes with ham (RM29) and Castilian garlic soup thickened with pancetta and paprika, a  beautifully comforting broth with rustic roots (RM19).

Ultimately, Tapas Club hit harmonious notes for pretty much all our orders, proving its capable versatility that spans sumptuous beef cheeks with piquillo peppers (RM22) to soft-roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce (RM19) - we polished every plate clean.

If you like paella too, put this place on your to-visit list: Five variations are available; we went for the chorizo version (RM78), which basically nails the essentials for a pleasing paella, complete with a crunchy-toasty caramelised socarrat at the bottom. 

Desserts showcase a playful contemporary flair - highlights are a somewhat deconstructed cheesecake (RM28) and churros sandwich with ice cream (RM25) - while drinks ensure that the Spanish theme remains intact to the end, with Ambar beer, a strictly Spanish wine list, and of course, sangria by both the glass and the carafe to keep us content. If you're seeking casual but competent Spanish eats in the city centre, Tapas Club is a thoroughly solid bet. Indulge ahead!

Tapas Club
Lot 7.01.01, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Daily, 1030am-11pm. Tel: 03-2110-2718

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