If you haven’t heard of Spanish restaurant, Ole Spain, on Nguyen Duy Hieu, you’d be forgiven. I’d never heard of Ole Spain either – perhaps because it’s only been open since June. But you won’t be forgiven if you ever crave proper Spanish food and, having read the following review, still don’t know where to find it in Hoi An.
Because Ole Spain is where you’ll find high-quality, heart-warming, authentic Spanish cuisine … at a very reasonable price.
Maybe it was the fact that we visited on a horribly rainy afternoon and their steaming hot paella was like a hug for our insides. Or maybe it was the warmness of the particularly attentive staff, particularly manager Nga, who made us feel so comfortable. Or maybe it was the jug of sangria that gave us that warm glow. In any case, it was hard to go back to the grey outdoors afterwards!
As we took our seats in the practically empty restaurant, Nga informed us that what we were about to eat was ‘real’ Spanish food. “The owner is from Madrid, and the chef from Bilbao” she told us … and, after looking through their menu, we knew we were in for a treat. Not just your run-of-the-mill tapas but special treats like “chicken en pepitoria”, “broken eggs and ham”, plus a range of gazpacho (cold soups), cured meats, salads and seafood dishes called out for our attention. But as soon as we saw the word paella, we were sold. As it’s for two people, we couldn’t order much else – we would’ve been stuffed otherwise – but we squeezed in an order of garlic sizzling prawns for good measure.
I love Spanish food. And I haven’t had it in quite a while – so it was with salivating anticipation that I clocked the steaming skillet of prawns as they were placed between us. Served on a bed of hot, garlicky, buttery goodness – and with a sliced baguette to mop it all up – it was the perfect prelude to our meal.
We enjoyed our fruity sangria while we waited for our seafood paella to arrive (other fun options on the menu included “farm paella” and “black rice paella”, with squid ink). When it came, Chef Rodrigo presented it to us with a flourish before painstakingly dividing it into two separate plates – no fighting over portions, then! Then – and this was the best part – he scraped the bottom of the pan clean, proffering the crunchy brown bits on a little saucer, like a scrumptious afterthought.
The paella was beautiful – piping hot, “Moorish” (heehee) and colorful, with the freshest seafood, of which there was a great variety. It was perfect for a rainy day, and those crunchy bits were like licking the bowl after your mum makes cookies. Dee. Lish. Us.
Speaking of baking, we topped off our meal with “chocolate cake from Grandma”. Now, I’ve never met Rodrigo’s grandmother but, having sampled her chocolaty delights, I’d like to adopt her as my own. Enough said.
Now, there are some things to be improved upon. Despite the cool posters, colorful lanterns and fun music, the restaurant has a distinct ‘hospital canteen’ vibe but perhaps that’s because it was fairly empty. It simply hasn’t attracted enough visitors yet – which is a shame, because the food and the service definitely deserve more success.
I really hope this place does well. There’s so much passion and care that goes into the food, I would love to see it bustling the next time I visit. Which, I have no doubt, I will.