Ok, so anyone who has met someone from Barcelona, would know that they don’t identify themselves as Spanish, rather, they speak Catalan with pride and think of themselves purely as Catalan. So heaven forbid should I mention the cuisine at Gaig as being “Spanish”. 😊
It’s Catalan cooking, through and through. When I’m asked about my favourite foodie places around the world, Barcelona (the “capital” of Catalonia) sits pretty among the top 5 cities on my list. Tapas-crawling around Las Ramblas, with street performances to accompany your jaunt, make it one of my favourite cities to spend many a night in.
Gaig is the Singapore outpost of the 1-Michelin starred restaurant of the same name in Barcelona. It points proudly to its familial roots, with Carles Gaig taking over his mother’s restaurant in Barcelona. In Singapore, Gaig is managed by Carles’ daughter, Nuria Gibert.
It was a last minute Friday decision – Hubby and I wanted to try a different kind of tapas place (enough croquettes and patatas bravas for us!) and a quick glance at the menu online convinced me that Gaig was the place for our dinner.
It was also cool seeing how some of the dishes are from Gaig in Barcelona, for example, the Cannelloni ($14). The dish follows the same recipe as when it first appeared in 1869 so how could I not try a legacy dish?
The filling for the cannelloni is finely-minced beef and pork, so smooth, it was almost like pâté. Almost but thankfully, not. It was delicious especially when spooned over with the accompanying béchamel.
Not as enticing though was the Pork Belly with a potato and cabbage patty ($16.80). Sure, the pork belly was crispy, and the potato patty was, well, competent, but nothing to shout about here.
Likewise, the pan-roasted Mackerel ($21.80) – I guess my flavor-bombed taste buds just couldn’t discern the subtle flavours of the dish, but wait a minute. Since when was mackerel a subtle fish? So I guess it’s quite astounding how they managed to make a normally robust-tasting fish taste like… nothing?
There’s a separate section on Catalan Stews featuring a variety of dishes made with clams, shrimp, tripe and pig trotters.
We stuck to the “safe” and ordered the Stuffed Baby Squid ($24.50). Five plump baby squids arrive, impregnated with the meat filling from the cannelloni mixed with some eggs, and swimming in a broth that was like a French onion soup that had spent many hours in the sea.
Delicious? Yes. Worth the cost? Well, what do you think – 5 baby squids for nearly $5 a piece.
Gaig prides itself on homey cooking, which this dish is so representative of but hey, how about charging me more homey prices?
Desserts, on the other hand, I am still salivating at the thought of them! I can still feel the pillowy soft texture of Gaig’s unique Catalan Crème Brûlée ($10.20), a fluffy custard oozing with sweet caramel flavour, and a few shards of caramelized sugar.
The crema catalana is similar to the French crème brûlée but not quite as heavy, making it a good choice if you’ve indulged in a carb-heavy fideua beforehand.
At Gaig, the almost mousse-y like texture makes it lighter than any crema catalana that I have tried in Barcelona. We are told to dig right to the bottom and scoop up, as in the middle, there is a cold caramel “ice-cream” that breaks the monotony of mouthfuls of custard.
Even lighter still is the glorious Orange Soufflé Ice Cream ($10.20). I don’t know how they got the texture to be so smooth and light like a soufflé and yet, remaining set and ice-cold. As for the orange flavour? Well, it’s like taking a stroll in the gardens of Valencia!
All in all, I would say that Gaig is worth a try – at least once. There are some really interesting and homey dishes which you probably can’t find here in Singapore. So go, especially when you’re feeling a little flush!
Address: 16 Stanley Street, Singapore (068735)
Contact: +65 6221 2134
Mon-Sat: 12-2pm, 6-9.30pm