Of Tapas and Paellas…

Okay, after a nice warm shower yesterday, I took a stroll. When I said stroll, I mean a very long stroll. I walked half the length of Las Ramblas, down towards the seafront, crossed a bridge, explored a (I think) new shopping and entertainment building, walked all the way to the Barceloneta Beach, walked the entire stretch almost half of the beach, and turned back. According to Google Maps, I have walked almost 7 kilometers by the time I got back to my starting point.

That will have to wait (as usual) for a future blog post when I get back to Malaysia. I’m not even going to show you a teaser here, because I don’t want you guys to go “Wahhh Barceloneta so nice!!!” and then a few weeks down the road go “Eh, why you blog about this place again? Thought you did it before?”.

So, nope… keep waiting. Today I be showing you more food!

Lunch:

It was almost 2pm (my time) when I stepped out of the hotel. Breakfast was 8 hours ago in Paris Airport (follow me on Instagram if you wanna see my breakfast in Paris, otherwise wait), so I was starving.

I spotted this on display outside a restaurant on one of the side strips along Las Ramblas.

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After the breakfast that costed me more than € 10, this seems like a bargain, so I rushed in without checking further

In fact, I didn’t even look at the menu. When the server brought out the menu, I simply said that I wanted that paella promotion thing shown on the outside…

Then I settled down to wait. And then… it began to dawn on me that I might not be in the right place after all…

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The restaurant

When I looked around, it began to dawn on me that this place seems somewhat… Chinese?

And then I flipped on the menu that was left behind for my reference…

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The menu

What the… Chinese words???

And here’s the final nail in the coffin…

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Chinese tea is served

Chinese tea! Chinese tea! In a place that serves paella!

Shit… Fucking shit! In my rush to fill my tummy and my eagerness for a good deal, I ended up ordering a paella set from a Chinese restaurant. Actually, why the fuck is a Chinese restaurant serving paella in the first place??

Anyway… there’s nothing much I can do, as I have already placed my order. My food was served shortly…

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Tapas

Hell yeah. Chinese tapas, ’tis. Croquette, battered squid of the frozen type, potato wedges. Actually, I don’t think these are even Chinese to be honest! Gawd!!!

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Paella

Actually, the server did not even ask me what type of paella I wanted, so I guess there’s only one option for the promotional set.

Well, I could taste the saffron, and the rice is cooked in a paella pan, and there’s some burnt edges to it. This is probably what a paella should be, although a bit bare in terms of ingredients. Only a couple of puny shrimps, a couple of frozen mussels and a handful of peas.

I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I’m not even sure if what I had can be considered a good paella (I don’t know what a good paella is). It did the job of making me full though…

More importantly, learn from my mistakes, guys. Don’t be a fucking clueless tourist. Always check and re-check before you enter a wrong restaurant and order the wrong things!

Dinner:

I made it back to Las Ramblas from my nearly 7 kilometers stroll in about four and a half hours. As expected, I was completely bushed again. But after the lessons from lunch, I vowed to be more careful in selecting my dinner place.

The entire Las Ramblas stretch is filled with these open air shacks.

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Now, you might think you are safe to just plop your ass down on a chair in any of these shacks. It’s not that simple…

You see, all of these shacks, while they look the same, they are actually not. They are always operated by either one of the shopfronts just across the vehicle lanes. They might look the same, but not all are run by tapas house or Spanish restaurants. Some of them could be run by Indian, Chinese (fuck!), Turkish restaurants, even Irish pubs.

And they all offer the same promotional menu. Two or three tapas + paella or pizza or spaghetti for less than € 10. Every fucking restaurant in this part of town (Spanish or Chinese or Indian or Irish), sells paella!

Long story short, you need to be careful. Look the fine prints, look for the shacks which have [tapas+bar+restaurant] printed on their menu. At least if you are eating from a Spanish restaurant, even if it is not good, at least you can be assured of the authenticity…

So this time I picked one that meets this criteria, Eivissa. They even have a board highlighting the type of tapas that they offer.

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List of tapas available

I did the same as what I did over lunch. I ordered their paella set. Here it was 2 tapas + paella for € 8.95.

It was an interesting experience, dining in a shack like this one. Here you are seated comfortably, and the street is full of people coming and going. I had such a great time just people watching while waiting for my food to be served.

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“Won’t you feel cold?” you might wonder. The answer is “Nope”. See they have these tower looking thing that spews fire. I suppose we can call this a modern type of fireplace. It keeps the immediate surrounding warm and toasty.

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And now, the million dollar question. How’s the food here, from a supposedly proper Spanish tapas restaurant, compared to a Chinese restaurant?

Immediately, during ordering, things were already different. I was told that the tapas are fixed if I order the set, but I could pay extra to try the other types. I was also given a few choices for my paella: seafood, chicken, vegetarian or mixed. I went for the vegetarian mixed version.

How was the food? Here, see for yourself…

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Tapas: Champiñones (mushrooms) and Pollo al Ajillo (garlic chicken)
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Mixed Paella

The tapas were warm and tasty. No frozen crap going on here, everything was cooked fresh, so how can they not be tasty, right?

But the paella… goodness, what a huge difference! You can scroll back up to look at my paella for lunch, and then come back down here. See how much more things is going on with this one? No frozen peas here, but lots of chili and peppers and carrots. And… see the real clams, real mussels, and that big prawn?

Which one’s better? Do you even need to ask??

One thing though. If I somehow feel homesick in the coming days, I might go back to that Chinese restaurant and order their Chinese dishes and see if they are any good at all.

30 Comments

  1. I think we can forgive you for the first meal since you were hungry. But damn, what a waste of a meal!! I feel like maybe anything along the Rambla is touristy?? And you may have to get off of it to find the good stuff? I dunno since I haven’t been to Barcelona yet, but it looks touristy if all the places are offering the same set menu. At least the 2nd place looks pretty decent! I wish you better luck with food the rest of your time there. 🙂

    • Ironically, the first one was on one of those side streets off Rambla, and the second one was on it LOL! After a few days here, the conclusion that I draw is that, it is not Rambla that we need to avoid, but make sure which restaurant’s tent we are getting into. There are like a million (okay, exaggeration) different restaurants operating those tents along the Rambla, be it proper Spanish restaurants/tapas houses, or Chinese, Indian, Irish, Turkish, etc. Just make sure you don’t order tapas and paella in anything other than Spanish restaurants’ tents. Oh and also, anything other than those paella/pizza sets are most definitely overpriced here…

  2. The second paella dish – winner! It does look very good. The one cooked by the Chinese restaurant looks like fried rice and I wouldn’t be surprised if it tasted like fried rice.

  3. I’m afraid many restaurants in Ramblas are tourist traps! But at least the second one was decent 🙂

    If you ask someone from Valencia they will tell you paella doesn’t have anything from the sea on it! But they are very annoying with their orthodoxy, people should be allowed to put whatever they want in their paella xD

    • I think you talk big only. When the food is already served, you can just storm out like that? Hahaha next time blog about such instances! 😀

  4. Alamak…heart attack lah you… 😀 My heart was like pip pap pip pap when you wrote about discovering that the first restaurant is Chinese! I was like, crap, hah…hah… But I would have made that mistake too. I mean you were tired and hungry so of course you jumped at the first paella and tapas offer you saw. I guess paella is a common thing there like fried rice over here. I’m glad you found a better one for dinner. So two paellas in a day. Will you be having more? 😀

    • The thing is paella is a tourist food there, everyone who goes to Barcelona wants to try paella, and the Ramblas is a tourist stretch, so naturally every fucking restaurant out there would offer it, just to cash in on the tourist money..

      I’m still looking for paella Valenciana, if I can find it I will! 😀

    • The thing is, I don’t even remember my own list when I’m on the go. So far, what I did was keep walking, and then barge into the first restaurant in front of me that intrigues me when I get tired and hungry. Not exactly the best way to do things, but… well… 🙄

  5. Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). This is what I found online. Now I learned something.

    • Not fried rice, they are cooked in broth until the broth dries up and left a slight “chao da” on the edges. Very flavorful one, if done properly.

  6. I guess you needed paella 1 to appreciate all your other future paellas that you are going to eat. Hehehehehe.

    Any jet lag?

    • I suppose you are right when you put it that way…

      Actually yes, I still get extremely tired by 5-6pm… end up sleeping by 9pm and wake up by 5am.. 🙁

  7. Yea, actually that’s some sort of trick, they put the promote outside to attract you enter the shop, but when you sit inside, the menu wasn’t show like that. they’re expecting people got confuse then order whatever on the menu.

    • Actually they did not lie lah, I was the stupid one didn’t notice it was a Chinese restaurant in the first place. I did not even look at the menu…

  8. tapas and paella, i had lots of those, hahaha!!! i think you went into a “black shop” for your lunch, i guess that must be for the very Chinese tourists, i remember i saw that when i was there but of course i didn’t go in.. oh, did you happen to explore further into the Gothic area and tried the pintxos i mentioned in the last post??

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