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A restaurant that takes you from Southeast Asia to Italy, where you don't have to spend a lot to sample flavours from around the world.
You can't help but celebrate the success of a place like Last Monkey. They opened in 2017 and continue serving up excellent and unpretentious Asian tapas and Mediterranean fusion, with a strong dedication to the surrounding Sant Antoni neighbourhood.
Italian chef Stefano Mazza – from the Alps, an area known for abundance and flavour – knows at least two things very well: Barcelona and Asian fusion. He was the second to join the city's much-missed restaurant Mé, under the incredible Thang Pham. Mazza has built a short and tasty menu where Southeast Asia is infused with Italian touches, and vice versa. Chefs who aren't screaming against the 'fusion' label are those who do it very well, like Mazza, and his friends at Casa Xica.
There are plenty of flavourful examples: splendid 'gyozellini' – tortellini, formed as if they were 'gyoza', steamed and then quickly fried for a crunchy touch that brings wontons to mind, stuffed with spinach, ricotta, Korean soy and kimchi mayonnaise – for less than €6; the tagaloc cheeks are a Filipino-style stew of tender beef with ginger, lemongrass and cumin, where Catalan cuisine meets that point of freshness that's sometimes missing in a slow-cooked stew; and the big hit on the menu are the aubergines candied with soy and oil, with a sweet chilli sauce.
Grabbing a bite here brings back memories of finding a place to feast when you didn't have much coin in your pocket. 'It's important for us that young people from the neighbourhood can come to eat and drink for a few euros,' says Mazza. You'll find a staff of four at the bar, but in the small, maximally optimised kitchen, you'll find Mazz working on his own, and you'll feel confident in his work ethic.
Comte Borrell, 70
|Transport:||Sant Antoni (M: L2)|
|Opening hours:||Mon 8.30pm-11.30pm; Tue-Sat 1pm-3.30pm, 8.30pm-11.30pm; Sun 1pm-4pm|