Food in Barcelona (part 1)

Let’s continue with my food adventures…

Chinese Lunch

Remember how I was conned (okay, I walked into it myself) into ordering a paella and tapas set in a Chinese restaurant? You don’t need to get mad on my behalf. I was already pretty mad with myself for being such a clueless tourist. Of course I was also pretty mad with the restaurant. Fucking Chinese restaurant selling paellas. WTF?!!

But then, as I strolled the entire length of La Rambla after that meal, I discovered that such blatant misleading is common here. There are a million different open air tents along the stretch, all operated by different restaurants nearby. But they all offer the same promotion menus, 2 or 3 tapas + paella or pizza or pasta, for less than 10€. We’re talking about not just Spanish tapas restaurants, we’re also talking about Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Irish restaurants, etc. Basically every fucking restaurant of every fucking ethnicity serves paella on this touristy La Rambla stretch!

So I began to think, maybe that Chinese restaurant that I went into was just doing what they had to do to survive. Maybe they’re not that bad. And then I felt bad for having a bad impression on them.

Guess what I did? I decided to give them another chance! Yes… such generosity from me, wasting another meal to eat non-Spanish/Catalan food just to give them another chance!

So I went back for lunch the next day. This time, I ordered specifically Chinese dishes from the menu: 虾仁炒饭 fried rice with shrimps and 烧肉 roasted pork.

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虾仁炒饭 fried rice with shrimps

I actually thought the fried rice was pretty decent. Not Malaysia level of decent, but it tasted like how a fried rice with shrimps should taste like. I was feeling better for the restaurant already. That was until my roasted pork was served…

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烧肉 roasted pork

What the..? What the heck is this??

So I asked the waitress: “这是烧肉啊?This is roasted pork?”,in which she replied: “对呀 这是烧肉啊!Cerdo asado 没错呀!Yeah, this is roasted pork! Cerdo asado, that’s right!”

And then she left me alone to stare at my pork with my mouth gaping…

Okay, fine… technically, she is right. This is a plate of roasted pork meat, which in Spanish is really called cerdo asado. But, fuck man! You’re a Chinese restaurant. If you are serving roasted pork, you should serve it Chinese style, not fucking Spanish style! If I’d want Spanish cerdo asado, I’d have gone to a proper Spanish restaurant. Come on!

I wonder if this is a special black shop (conman shop), or if every other Chinese restaurant in Spain does the same. But I’m not willing to put this doubt to the test. No more Chinese food in Barcelona for me!

And if anyone from Spain is reading this, and you think this is the way Chinese cerdo asado looks like, please do yourself a favor and search “Chinese roasted pork” on Google.

Pinchos Dinner

I was stumbling back after yet another wonderful day for my eyes and terrible day for my thighs, walking back to La Rambla all the way from the Sagrada Familia (more pictures in future posts!) with countless stops and detours along the way. I decided to look for dinner on one of those side streets.

And then I stumbled across this place.

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Irati Taverna Basca

I did not realize it at that time, but apparently this place is rated highly on TripAdvisor as the best place to have pintxos in the area. If you’re wondering how to read this word, it is pronounced pinchos. In fact some locals spell it as pinchos too.

To be honest, I don’t much care about TripAdvisor’s ratings, they are mostly very confusing because the reviews come from all over the world and one person’s meat might be another person’s poison, so you never know who to trust.

What I do care was that I peeked inside and saw…

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these,
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and these.

A long stretch of pinchos calling to me! By the way, pinchos is a snack eaten in Spanish bars, much like tapas. But unlike tapas which are usually served on small dishes, pinchos are served on pieces of bread, with a toothpick spiked on each piece of these goodies.

For the uninitiated fool (like me, for example), a first trip into such Basque taverns can be a big shock. I mean… just look at all these lovelies…

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Pinchos,
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More pinchos,
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More pinchos,
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And even more pinchos!

How things work here is you order a glass of beverage (mostly wine and beer), and then just grab whatever tickles your fancy here, and start eating. You can request for a plate if you want to. The toothpicks are important here. You’ve got to keep hold of them, because when you’re done and leaving, you’re going to be charged based on how many toothpicks you have. Here they charge 1.95€ per toothpick, and apparently it is an average pricing. I heard there are certain places that charges 3€ or 4€ per toothpick.

So what did I get myself?

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Smoked salmon, Jamon (Iberian ham), Chorizo with white thing, purple thing
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More chorizo with white thing, and smoked tuna and pickle on croissant

I’m sorry, I basically just stuffed my face silly and did not remember to ask, so I don’t know what white thing and purple thing is. They’re somewhat salty so I guess they’re some type of cheese.

Was it a good meal? No, it wasn’t. It was a great meal! I’m so happy I got these tucked under my belly, what with everyone who has been to Barcelona before reminding me that the pintxos is a must eat.


Side story:

See the first girl seated on the pinchos bar? She’s Japanese. My first encounter with her was at the Paris Airport. I saw her struggling with the cashier when buying a sandwich. She could not speak English/French so I helped her translate a few words (since I know a few Japanese words thanks to the animes).

It was a surprise for me to bump into her again, and even more surprising was that she recognized me (I did not recognize her =.=). But she did not need my help this time because her friend who came with her to this tavern speaks English.

No, nothing happened between us. I was just leaving and trying to take pictures of the pinchos bar when she came in. I did not linger around to chat her up (I can’t even if I wanted to, my Japanese is limited to a few words only).

Actually I’m an introvert in real life. It is very rare for me to chat people up. Sure, sometimes if I notice people (especially girls) in distress and I can help, I would step up. But when help is rendered and thanks have been uttered, I would shrink back to my own shell unless she tries to chat me up after that. 🙄

34 Comments

  1. What a good memory, you still remember who you’ve encounter…(for me I will forgot who I’ve met after few minutes, especially stranger, even those I just met, I won’t even remember more than a day…sweat…)

    • Actually it was her to remember me. I actually could not recognize her until she mentioned “Pari? A-ya-po-to?” 😀

  2. I can’t help laughing when I read this post and your side story, you are so funny

    Same here, I am also an introvert in real life, I am someone with few words so I feel weird in a big group cos I won’t know what to say next when everyone can keep on chatting and talking non stop

  3. I actually haven’t heard of pintxos before but holy crap, they look DELICIOUS!! I know now to look for this kind of restaurant when I’m there! The 2 days I was in Bologna, Italy, I learned that everyday around 5 or 6, there’s aperitivo (sp?) hour where you just basically buy one drink, and can have all these little snacks on bread & sticks (looks similar to the stuff here) FOR FREE! Every single restaurant does this. It was seriously the best!

    And awww, you could have sat and tried to talk to her! What’s the worst that can happen? 🙂

    • I think it is pretty much the same with drinks and snacks here, except for the words FOR FREE. Or at least I did not come across any restaurant that does it here 🙄 …

      Well, I can’t really make small talk with her since I technically don’t speak Japanese too hahaha. I’m good enough to translate a few words, but not good enough for a chat. 🙁

  4. I am not surprised that the Chinese restaurant is catering to the local taste. The first time my husband went to Canada with me, I took him to a Chinese restaurant. I was the one who order Kung Po Chicken and the it was served with a sauce similar to thanksgiving turkey gravy. I was the one who ended up being mad because I thought they would at least serve a dish similar to Taiwan standards.

    It was nice of you to help out the Japanese girl in Paris.

    • I’m not even as rigid as you. For me, it is fine to be off in terms of taste, but at least you’ll have to look the part. That cerdo asado, it was like serving me spaghetti bolognese and telling me it is 牛肉汤面. That’s blatant cheating! 😐

  5. the concept of charging pinchos is like how Malaysian charges the satay many years ago. I remembered last time satay Kajang was charged based on number of sticks consumed. Nowadays, we have to pay upfront based on the number of sticks we ordered. So that Japanese gal travelling solo jst like u? eh, u wasted ur chance la…

    • I guess in Malaysia it doesn’t work because got a lot of dishonest “smart” people here… 🙄

      Actually I don’t know if she was traveling solo or not. She was with another girl in Paris airport, but with a different girl in the pinchos bar. I did not ask those questions… 🙄

    • It looks fine if served from a tapas house. Sad only because it was served in a fucking Chinese restaurant..

    • I can’t believe you think it was because I crumbled! I feel like an idiot for writing my logic and explanation now. 🙁

  6. Nuff said about the Chinese restaurant. Wow, just look at all the pintxos! I would like to taste each and every one of them but I think with the bread, I would be too full to do that not to mention that it would be very costly. Maybe take all types one each and share with another person who just order the drink so two drinks and sharing the pintxos for 2 pax. Would that work?

    • You can have 2 pax or even 10 pax, whatever works for you, in the end they still charge you by how many toothpicks you have accumulated.

      • 10 pax can order just one drink to share? Or one person don’t order any drink, just eat and pay by toothpicks only?

        • I think I have not been clear. Yes you can. They don’t have mandatory 1 drink per person rule. You order drinks and you pay for it, you eat and you pay by toothpicks. How you wanna do it is up to you. If you just eat without drinks is fine too. Although I have never seen anyone so hardcore in these few days lah… 🙄

  7. I think it isn’t fair to expect Chinese food in Barcelona to taste anything like Chinese food back home! 😀 Pinchos look like my kind of food…small bites of good food! 😉

    • No, I wasn’t expecting them to taste like it, I was only expecting them to look like it. There’s only one way a Chinese roasted pork should look like, no? 🙄 😀

  8. Thought the Japanese girl, both of you 有缘 meet again, 会交个朋友。。。

  9. Oh! I am loving those pinchos! So you basically just buy a drink and help yourself to the pinchos and hang on to the toothpicks to be charged. That’s simple and that’s what I want if I go the Barcelona. Nope, no Chinese food for me but I bet my partner will insist on having at least one Chinese meal. You are an introvert eh? Same here 🙂

    • Just make sure to stay off from Ramblas for your pincho adventure. Most proper Basque (Catalan) tapas house or taverns would have some form of pinchos on their counter.

  10. What a coincidence to meet the Japanese girl again. You must have made an impression the first time you saw her at the airport 😀 Those toothpicks look small and I suppose the place trusts its patrons to not hide away or throw some toothpicks aside when it is time to pay the bill 🙄

    • I guess this kind of trust system works in first world countries, where people are decent. It only doesn’t work in *ahem ahem* third world/Chinese people land, where everything that can be taken advantage of, will be taken advantage of. 🙄

  11. haha so you were back there to cure your “homesickness” huh?? the fried rice looks good, I guess way better than paella?? but the roast pork, errr, looks more like char siew to me, hehe!!!

    and finally you had pintxos!! yeah, I’m looking forward to you trying and sharing them here, I really miss those.. anyway forget about travel sites reviews, just go where you think is good as I guess the pintxos are probably about the same everywhere.. we are not pintxos experts to give critics~~ :p

    • Aiyo you did not read. What homesickness? >.< ... Those pork, not even char siew, it is like those Gordon Ramsay style roast pork or something... Yeah I did not pay much attention to those reviews. I usually eat as and when I see something that intrigues me...

  12. Thanks for all your warnings before I ever visit Barcelona someday. On my own, I would never look for Chinese food in overseas except China and HKG.
    The Pinchoe bar is so delicious and tempting. I love what you ate.
    With your flaming lava mouth, who on earth could believe you are introvert! Wakakaka …. I can also say I am a very shy introvert.

    Hey what happened with the Japanese gal? Didn’t you invite her to your room for some sake?

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