My Little Spanish Place | 3.5/5

Legs on display at My Little Spanish Place.
Published: 3:31 AM, July 6, 2013
Updated: 1:10 PM, July 7, 2013
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SINGAPORE — First came the burrata bar, and now, say hello to the jamon bar. At the three-year-old My Little Spanish Place along Bukit Timah Road, jamon aficionados have the choice of five magnificent legs of Spanish hams aged between 18 and 48 months.

Prices start from S$7 for 25 grams of the 18-to-20-month aged Serrano, and go up to S$48 for 25 grams of the popular Joselito Iberico Bellota. The latter is considered the pinnacle of jamon, with its soft, almost gamey, flavour and fine texture. But don’t let that prevent you from savouring the joys of the milder, somewhat creamier 5J, a 30-to-36-month Iberico ham (S$21 for 25g) that’s just as enjoyable, not to mention kinder to the wallet.

Unlike the newer, trendier Spanish bars in Singapore, My Little Spanish Place has a homier vibe. Accordingly, the food here is more classical, and closer to what you would find at a meson (a traditional home-style restaurant) in Spain.

There are no bikini sandwiches stuffed with truffles or Spanish omelettes made from foam. Instead, the food is rustic, made without the use of modern machines like a sous vide water oven, as co-owner and chef Edward Esmero pointed out when asked if it’s what he used to get his grilled octopus leg ($36) so meltingly tender.

“No, no machines. We bash it with a knife,” he said matter-of-factly.

Indeed, there is gratifying simplicity to the food served here — tender spears of roasted asparagus flecked with crumbled manchego (Spanish sheep’s cheese) and bits of fried jamon ($15), and luscious grilled mushroom caps ($15) suffused with garlic and topped with melted cheese and a sweet drizzle of reduced sherry. The latter was particularly delicious, served with a slice of bread at its base that collected all the tasty juices as we ate our way through it.

Like any Spanish restaurant worth its paella, this one also serves a fantastic 21-day-old Spanish suckling pig (S$79 for a quarter; requires a 4-hour advance order). It is first brined in wine and later marinated with garlic, and then spends five hours in a low oven till its meat can be picked apart with no effort at all.

Our piglet was so robustly seasoned that it veered towards too salty. It also had that distinct porcine flavour that some may not enjoy (we, however, were quite happy with it). Plunge the meat into the accompanying aioli and it all comes together beautifully, as the garlicky hit of the creamy dip provides just the right balance.

Be sure to finish off your meal with the Tarta de Chocolate ($14). The satiny chocolate tart was creamy and slightly bitter and perfectly matched with a hand-churned sweet milk ice cream that was just divine. And if you were wondering, yes, it is much better than the churros ($12), which was dense and too heavily crusted.

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