Agua ready to charm yet again

Updated: 2011-01-17 13:31

By Ye Jun (China Daily)

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Agua ready to charm yet again

For many, the reopening of Agua Spanish Restaurant has been long-awaited. The restaurant was launched at Ch'ien Men 23 and enjoyed a good reputation, with several Beijing publications citing it as their pick for best restaurant. It closed last year to much disappointment, so its relocation to Nali Pation at Sanlitun is welcome news that is highly anticipated.

Executive chef Jordi Valles has created a new menu, but retained a handful of his most popular dishes from the previous location.

The favorites - his traditional crispy suckling pig, torrijia, and the Catalan cream and almonds dessert - are all intact.

New items include tapas served hot in porcelain terrines, such as Piquillo red peppers stuffed with seafood "farce", a flavorful seafood broth. It was also a pleasure to taste the chef's pan-fried fresh shrimps with garlic and chili again, a classic and my personal favorite.

Among the new offerings - a perfect poached egg is presented, and then a waitress comes and pour hot pumpkin soup over it. Healthy and tasty.

There is also pan-fried sea bream topped with a flavorful refrito and roasted onions, while a la plancha (grilled) sea bass is paired with mushroom done three ways. Both fish are seared to a lovely golden on the skin, offering sea-fresh taste and texture.

Roasted potatoes with three chorizos, however, did not quite hit the spot. I thought the chorizo did not have much of a pork flavor.

But the dessert made up for everything. Whisky baba is perfumed with vanilla and orange that is warm, soft and aromatic - and served along with a coffee smoothie.

Among other new creations are smoked mackerel, a herb salad with black olives, basil and tomatoes, as well as an appetizer of beef and porcini ravioli with caramelized onion.

The restaurant specializes in contemporary Spanish cuisine with Mediterranean influences, and offers natural flavors accented with aromatic herbs and rich olive oil.

Designed by David Yeo, founder of the Aqua Restaurant Group (locations also in Hong Kong and London), the interior dcor leans towards warm luxurious browns and the textures of natural Spanish woods. Colored glass and brass lanterns are sourced from the souks of Morocco, and window and doors are in traditional Moorish style.

The restaurant has good sunshine around noon, and tables are widely spaced for more comfortable seating.

To celebrate its comeback, the restaurant now offers a four-course tasting menu at 308 yuan ($47) a person, featuring some of Jordi's new dishes. Agua's wine list has a selection of 70 wines, and manager Richard Pirsch is happy to recommend food and wine pairings.

Dinner costs an average 350 yuan a person from the a la carte menu. Business lunch costs 88 yuan a person for two courses, and 98 yuan for three courses. The restaurant will be open during the coming Spring Festival holiday.


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