Come for the Spanish camaraderie and stay for the traditional family recipes and tapas. Photos and review by Ruben Luong.
Olé’s Spanish owner, Tony, remembers when a Russian customer picked up the restaurant’s guitar and sang with his wife to an audience of German and Vietnamese patrons, who happily clapped along during their meal.
“In Spain, this is called allegria,” he says. “Forget Vietnam. Here is Spain, the music, the ambience. I want people to forget they’re in Vietnam.”
Tony opened Olé four months ago with his wife, Monica. Their Spanish cuisine is inspired by recipes from Tony’s mother and grandmother. To retain the authentic flavours, the couple imports a majority of the ingredients from Spain.
Come for Olé’s many shared tapas, such as the restaurant’s coveted bread with tomato and cured Serrano ham (VND 175,000), its a la carte dishes, such as Andalusian fried squid (VND 159,000) or its larger specialties, such as the fish and meat Fideua, a Valencian noodle paella (VND 245,000).
However, Olé is known around town for its a la carte octopus minced and prepared Galicia style (VND 199,000). Tony says he imports 7 to 8kg of octopus from Spain for the dish. Unlike local octopus, each piece — covered in sprinkled Spanish paprika, rock salt and olive oil — isn’t chewy. It resembled crab meat or mozzarella cheese, perfect with slices of baguette.
A recommended specialty is the seafood paella (VND 325,000). King prawns sit atop buried mussels and green peas in a rice paella that coats your teeth and stains your fingers with its saffron sauce. We finished the dish with dirty hands but full stomachs. “Now, you can say you’ve been to Spain,” Tony says, holding up my fingers.
When Tony disappeared into the kitchen with the remnants of our paella, he returned with a cooking torch, personally flaming a crème catalane (VND 75,000). A Spanish counterpart to the French crème brûlée, the catalane incorporates cinnamon instead of vanilla. We cracked its caramelised lid with our spoons. Saccharine shards tasted pleasant and sank into the light crème-like quicksand.
Olé’s Spanish red wine sangria, made with banana slices and red and green apples, is a thirst quencher. It’s not strong, so it’s easy to enjoy by the glass (VND 95,000), or even by the litre (VND 390,000) and pairs perfectly with the family-inspired food.