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Tomatito brings Spanish tapas to HCM City

Update: August, 05/2018 - 09:00
Tapas of the evening: A perfect place to chill out and grab a bite or a drink after work. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
Viet Nam News

by Nomad Quynh

When it comes to foreign cuisine in Việt Nam, Italian, Japanese and Korean are certainly the most familiar. Spanish cuisine, however, is gaining more and more well-deserved attention and has become one of the trendiest foreign foods here these days.

I have to admit that the first time I was introduced to the concept of tapas, I immediately fell in love with it. Who doesn’t like chilling out after a long day of work with a group of friends, a drink and several plates of delicious small bites to share?

Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise that so many new tapas bars are jumping into the market. Tomatito, known by its slogan as the “sexy tapas bar”, is one of the most recent.

Fans of tapas in Manila and Shanghai are probably already familiar with this name. Indeed, this HCM City branch is Chef Willy Trullas Moreno’s third child, born under the same concept after two other successful openings in the cities mentioned above. What separates Tomatito from the rest of tapas restaurants here is its fun and playful spirit, just as the slogan “sexy tapas bar” promises.

Opened several months ago in the burgeoning foodie area of District 1, a few hundred metres away from the famous Bến Thành market, Tomatito – Spanish for “little tomato” – is set to be one of the most popular places to socialize after work, especially with the nearby metro line project underway.

The entrance to the restaurant is charming with an added element of mystery. Upon arriving at 171 Calmette Street, look for the small opening on the right side of Marou Chocolate Bar, which will turn into a small staircase that leads you to Tomatito upstairs.

Opening the door for me and my companion was a pretty hostess who ushered us to the table we reserved. I looked around. The interior design is chic and modern with the overall tone being red – an appropriate colour for a Spanish restaurant. There are plenty of tables for couples or groups to sit down for a relaxing meal, plus a bar area for guests who prefer some casual drinks and chit-chat.

Tapas are no doubt the heart and soul of this place. But that’s not to say there aren’t other Spanish dishes on the menu. Thanks to the chef’s talent, every dish carries a touch of creativity and its own personality.

We decided to start with “Salmon TNT 2.0” (VNĐ195,000++), the signature appetizer that I’ve heard many rave about. We were not disappointed. It was one of the most unique executions of Balik salmon I’ve had, a wonderful combination with sour cream and truffle honey on top of crispy filled crackers. Just like the name suggests, it was indeed an explosion of taste and it justified the somewhat high price.

Fish on tapas: A must-try starter: Salmon TNT 2.0. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
More tapas-notch fish: Seabass tiradito in avocado and green sauce. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
Beef on tapas: Australian Angus BBQ steak. VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh

My friend wanted to sample another fish dish, and the seared tuna loin in avocado mousse, gazpacho and black olives (VNĐ145,000++) caught his eye. Usually I’m not a big fan of tuna but this one nailed it. It was perfectly cooked, soft and flavourful, while the accompanying sauce and vegetables gave the whole dish a more well-rounded taste. I would definitely recommend this dish for fish lovers.

Our next choice was medium-rare Australian Angus BBQ steak with mushroom and green peas (VNĐ230,000++). The beef was deliciously juicy and flavourful with a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, and for such high quality it was a reasonably priced dish in my opinion.

As usual, I had already started eyeing the dessert menu before the mains came in. The dark chocolate brownie with caramelized truffle popcorn and mascarpone mousse (VNĐ120,000++) to me looked like the most interesting option, and I was very happy with my choice. While the dark hot chocolate was made from top-notch ingredients and thus already delicious on its own, truffle popcorn is what makes this dessert stand out from all the similar ones I’ve had in town. Needless to say, I devoured it fast and no doubt will order it again in my future visits.

Regarding drinks, you will certainly find the staple Spanish cocktail Sangria here, in two different versions made from red and white wine. Some of the most famous Spanish wines are also available by glass and bottle, and will surely satisfy the most difficult wine lovers.

The service is every bit as good as I would expect from a place managed by an international team like this. All the staff are professional as well as friendly. The price might be on the high side, but with their great food, funky vibes and good management I can see this place becoming one of the most popular destinations in HCM City for expats and locals alike to unwind after long days of work.

Tomatito Saigon

Address: 171 Calmette Street, District 1, HCM City

Tel: 0869 388 864

Opening hours: Everyday from 11am – 11pm

Comment: Delicious and creative Spanish food in a funky relaxing atmosphere.

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