Iberico Jamon Bellota Reserve 30-36 Months ($30) (Dry-cured ham of acorn-fed Spanish black pig)
The popularity of Spanish cuisine is rising rapidly in the recent year, and having a part to play is our melting pot society’s growing appetite for variety.
Spanish cuisine is often associated with tapas bars and sangrias, like French cuisine is associated with visually stunning presentations and fine dining. Tapas come in countless different forms, depending on the individual chefs’ creativity, or plain simplicity. Bar hopping is common in Spain. It would be an arduous task finding two tapas bars with identical tapas options.
A hip and vibrant Spanish paella bar opened its doors on 12 October 2012 – an especially meaningful date that marks Spain’s National Day – in the Robertson Quay precinct, at Martin No. 38 to be exact. BOMBA is where you should go if you enjoy liveliness and buoyancy, with a mere intention of catching up with the pals grazing on suave tapas and sipping potent libations. If you are in need of sustenance after a hard day at work, fuel your body with the highly raved paella.
You wouldn’t be expecting to see a lot of bar hopping, because the inviting atmosphere keeps possession of the patrons’ presences –and there isn’t a better place for Spanish food, especially paella, in the neighbourhood.
Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno helms the kitchen, bringing with him a wealth of valuable experience. He adds a clever touch of creativity to the dishes, without swaying far off from traditions.
Pan Con Tomate ($8)
To start off, the Pan Con Tomate is recommended. The topping of crushed tomato is well infused with the aroma of garlic, intermingled with olive oil, and sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley for the finishing touch. The moist texture of the topping, against the crunchy rustic bread, hits the spot.
Padron Peppers ($12)
The padron peppers – with their bright green colour staring straight back at you – look almost as unadulterated as it may appear a tad too plain on the plate. Before I mustered the courage to take a bite, I thought to myself: will I choke on the heat, and end up gasping for a glass of iced cold water?
My worries were redundant. Lightly grilled to smoky goodness, the spice level is mild, with flavour well complemented by the coarse grains of salt sprinkled atop. I didn’t expect myself to get hooked on this.
Once you start, it’s hard to stop. There’s hardly any reason to stop at the first morsel anyway. This traditional tapas treat is healthy and green, containing barely any carbohydrates that you need to worry about.
Iberico Ham Croquettas ($12 for 3 pieces)
Breaded, deep-fried Iberico ham ‘lardon’ and soft béchamel croquette
The Iberico Ham Croquetas to me is a ball of sunshine in an edible form. It brought endless elation to my hankering for comfort food –crisp on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.
Fried Potato “Bomba” ($10 for 3 pieces)
The Fried Potato “Bomba” takes the same shape as the aforementioned Iberico Ham Croquettas, but sports a totally different character; this breaded ball of joy comprises smoothly mashed potato laced with chorizo paste, enclosed by a delicately crisp crust that is topped with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli. A traditional Barcelona dish that’s a must try here!
Seasonal La Plancha Carabeneros (market price)
La plancha is all about great marination and flavours, featuring a selection of seasonal daily fresh catch cooked on a metal flattop grill.
Freshness and quality comes with a hefty price tag here. At $22 per prawn, each prawn had better be grilled to perfection. Though the execution is flawless, I’m not entirely blown away.
Clams (market price)
I also tried another item from the La Plancha menu, but not by choice I must add. When dining in a group, there are bound to be items others like more than you do.
The texture of clams (in general) does not sit well with me. The richly flavoured sauce outshines the main component – the seafood – because I didn’t care for the mollusc at all.
Pinchos Morunos ($20)
Stepping out loud and proud amongst the seafood crowd is the Pinchos Morunos –a fillet of Iberican pork marinated with olive oil, smoked paprika, crushed garlic, oregano and lemon juice. This was a highlight.
Cooked in ‘the coal pit’, the direct contact with the mangrove charcoal and apple wood chips imparts a distinctive smoky flavour. Juices well sealed within the crusty surface underneath the fatty layer, the meat is tender succulent perfection.
Arroz Negro ($35/$45/$55)
A wet paella of squid ink, squid, dry sherry, fish stock, spring onions and black mushrooms
Taking centre stage at BOMBA is its specialty paella, a dish that unites the people of Spain, and indubitably the fans of BOMBA. I mean, to call itself a paella bar, its paella has got to be outstanding right? Fortunately, it lives up to its promise.
Aptly named after the most appreciated variety of Spanish rice, Bomba rice is used in their paellas. The flavourful fish stock is dyed dark ebony with squid ink – staining every grain of rice as it simmers – ensuing a rich taste of the ocean. The best part of paella for me is the socarrat, a caramelised crust that forms at the bottom layer of the rice, slightly crisp and slightly charred.
Bitter Chocolate Ice Cream, Sour Dough Bread and Salted Olive Oil ($14)
Dessert was a piece of art, both in its presentation and flavour combination. How once-thought-as-incompatible ingredients are pieced together on a plate, chocolate ice cream and salted olive oil, turns out to be a genius union. It didn’t do much to satisfy my sweet tooth, but it sure left an impression.
Though the items on the menu tend to be on the pricey side, the great service at BOMBA comes without a price tag.
Martin No. 38
38 Martin Road
Tel: (65) 6509 1680
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am daily
*Last food order at 10.45pm, last dessert order at 11.15pm