Cal Cuc

Restaurants, South Asian El Poblenou
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Corporate identity. The dream of a restaurant group is to have five or seven or 27 restaurants, each with its own personality and all with corporate branding. The Mosquito Group, champions of Asian food and craft beer, have already opened six spots, and they've done it backwards: take care to make good food that's priced well, and the customers will do the rest. Did I say six? Make that seven. Giles Brown (Jazz to his friends), who hails from the UK and is the owner of this small empire that started out in 2003 with Mosquito, has now opened Cal Cuc in Poblenou, which, as he explains, is 'an Asian tavern, a relaxed place where you can fit loads of kids, a big terrace and a mix of what we know how to do best'. With the location he's struck gold: in the former giant-sized bar Manolo in C/ Taulat.

Some restaurants come up with a complex business plan to find an identity and something that sets them apart from the pack. Those at the Mosquito Group opened Cal Cuc a week after moving in and with no remodelling, but their spirit still shines through in the quality of the food and the friendly prices. 'We're still developing the venue and the menu', Brown says. As for what sets them apart: 'A menu with dishes from all round southeast Asia and loads of craft beer', he says unceremoniously (and that taking into account there are 14 taps!). As a common thread, all the restaurants feature an informal and homey ambience without putting on airs. Cal Cuc is a huge space without the narrow and tight spaces of the others, and with plenty of light – perfect for groups or families with kids.

The cuisine isn't always the same at each restaurant either: the ramen here is perhaps more dense than that at Grasshopper (and you can add browned garlic, extra umami and density) but both are great. The 'pho' at Cal Cuc is maybe a bit more citric than the one at Mosquito. They kicked off with a menu that features Asian 'tapas', big bowls of dishes to be eaten with a spoon, and wok dishes where the most expensive is a green curry with squid (which is still under €8) that's tender, just the right touch of spicy, and pays tribute to a classic Catalan dish that combines squid with soft meatballs made with bits of shellfish. And Cal Cuc isn't the only news from the Mosquito Group: you can learn how they do it at Wo Kitchen (Comercio, 7), a space for Asian cooking classes.

Posted:

Venue name: Cal Cuc
Contact:
Address: Taulat, 109
El Poblenou
Barcelona
08005
Opening hours: Mon 1pm-11.30pm; Tue 6pm-11.30pm; Wed, Thu 1pm-11.30pm; Fri, Sat 1pm-midnight; Sun 1pm-11.30pm
Transport: Poblenou (M: L4)
Static map showing venue location
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