BY CK Lam
On the bustling Burma Road in Penang, El Faro is the latest addition to a handful of genuine tapas joints around town. Small plates of tapas, prepared by executive chef Jack Yeap, come with rich offerings of pungent cheeses, olive oils, premium sardine, anchovies and tuna.
Tapas, or small plates of snacks, which originated from Spain, are best enjoyed under the covered patio in front of this restaurant. Alternatively, there’s also an indoor air-conditioned dining area. Try the Boquerones – a perfect marriage of refreshing sweet watermelon, salty preserved Spanish white anchovies with mint, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Boquerones – a delight to the eye and palate
Ensalada tomate (tomato salad) with sweet tangy balsamic vinegar
The next dish is slices of toasted bread with topping of anchovies, red pepper and eggplant. The anchovies, which are preserved in vinegar and olive oil, complement the other ingredients.
The Gambas al Ajillo dish had large fresh prawns sautéed with garlic, white wine and herbs.
Clams cooked with chorizo sausage arrived on the table in a beautiful sauce of white wine, herbs, tomatoes and onions. We had pieces of toasted bread to soak up the sauce with sweetness of clams and smoky flavor of the chorizo.
There’s a dizzying variety of pork dishes. The deep-fried Crispy Pig’s Ear offers an interesting chewy texture. Combinations of mixed spices give this snack an addictive flavour.
Crispy Pig’s Ear
Another pork dish created by the chef includes the Tender Pork Belly, which comprised the pairing of fork-tender pork belly and cabbage with refreshing boost of maple and lime sauce.
For a heartier dish, there is the El Faro paella, prepared in a flat round pan with seafood, saffron and homemade stock. The rice served up on a plate with fresh shrimp, clams and calamari has a more of an al dente texture. Infuse with the flavours of seafood, the rice is enticing with ground black pepper, chili powder and a squeeze of lemon but we would like the rice done with a little extra stock.
On my latest visit, Chef Yeap modified the dish with an absolute better dense texture.
A minimum twenty minute wait for the paella
The chilled Konbu Capellini is immensely satisfying. The dish perfumed with truffle oil featured silky thin and long angel hair pasta garnished with slightly salty black lumpfish caviar.
Besides that, we also had the Bikini, a simple and tasty grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and a bowl of Patatas Bravas (crispy potatoes with skin) doused in slightly spicy bravas sauce and garlic aioli.
Chilled konbu capellini
A very special dessert at El Faro is the Dessert On The Table. Yeap’s passion for creativity is apparent in this dish which is attractively plated tableside with bountiful ingredients made-in-house. In the video clip, you can see the entertaining preparation.
Everyone had an awesome time finishing the dessert with different flavors, texture and colours. Orange chocolate gateau, Torta de Santiago, passionfruit cheesecake, chocolate fudge brownie, arroz con leche and ice-cream are some of the ingredients.
Dessert On The Table is a must have in El Faro
El Faro also offers a selection of wines and cold beers to go with the tapas. The place is generally busy during its business hours from 3pm till 11.30pm. Click here for the google Map Location.
Nibbled on the tapas along with sips of reds
El Faro Tapas Bar & Restaurant
231 Jalan Burma
Tel: 04 2272310
Closed on Wednesday
* This is a reproduction of my article published in Makansutra