Rubia: First-rate Spanish fare (9.0)

It’s been a while since we’ve stumbled across a new find that was very much worth our while; when we were leaving the restaurant we had begun planning our next visit and who to bring along.

As we walked up the wooden stairs and stepped into Rubia’s dining area on the first floor, the dark wooden furniture and orange lighting made the place feel a lot like one of those Parisian cafés or bistros where I imagine great figures in the 20s like Hemingway and Fitzgerald spent their vie de bohème daydreaming, exchanging ideas and getting wasted. It was also a cold and cloudy day, adding an autumn chill and a tinge of melancholy.

Our server spoke to us in perfect English, taking all of my special requests seriously (and with precision) and also explaining each of the dishes we were served with passion. He went the extra mile to make sure everything was perfect for us. I felt so taken care of that I even fantasized for a moment that he was the owner in disguise.

The two of us were not too hungry and simply ordered one tapas and two main courses to share. Although the food took a little longer than we expected to come, the wait was well worth it as we were pleasantly surprised by each and every dish.

I’ve had rubia gallega a few times and as much as “old and fat” cows sound offputting (rubia gallega are cattle that usually graze for up to fifteen years longer than the typical cow) I absolutely loved its flavor from the first time I’ve had it. At least more than I do wagyu. And the gallega that Rubia served was as good, if not better, than the versions in my memory. I also enjoyed the entire package of butter lettuce, smoked piquillo peppers confit and triple-cooked potatoes that helped to further enrich the taste of the steak.

But what took us even more by surprise was the fideos negros with two beautiful carabineros. It was a pasta of the year moment for us.

The tapas (octopus) was also superb.

So all in all a great first visit with serious food and hospitality. I would highly recommend a visit if you like the kinds of food that they serve. Let me not ruin your visit by saying more nice things about the place to pump up expectations.

P.S. We also spotted some interesting wine selections and would be coming in the evening next time.

Food Rundown

Octopus gallega on potato cream (tapas), $135
Wonderfully tender, well-seasoned and just addictive. The greedy kid in me really wanted seconds.

Rubia gallega boneless rib-eye (main course), 280g, $499
Our steak looks a bit less oiled as I requested so but that absolutely did not compromise its flavor, which was a bit nutty and mushroomy. Given its rareness chewing time also increases and you get to really savor the essence of the meat.

The steak came with lettuce, smoked piquillo peppers confit and triple-cooked Agria potatoes (apparently hand cut and cooked in extra virgin olive oil). I’m not an expert in potatoes so I really cannot tell between different types of potatoes, but I can testify that these fries are just very good (and the fried garlic was also tasty). Yet what I loved even more was the sweet pepper confit that paired so well with the steak and everything else.

Black fideos, Spanish red king prawns (main course), all i oli, $350
The intense flavors from the juices of the carabineros’ heads and real squid ink was perfectly captured by al dente, short-cut capelli d’angelo. And the capelli is slightly burnt and crispy near the bottom—I loved the crunchiness. Have it without aïoli first and you can mix that in later and enjoy the contrast.
P.S. the portion should safely serve two if not three.

Cheesecake, $70
You can’t miss out on this cheesecake made with Valdeón blue cheese and cream cheese. It’s the creamiest and cheesiest cheesecake you can get—and you also have an excuse to take a sip of whiskey with ice cream.

35 Hollywood Road, Hong Kong
$$$, Spanish