Stepping into Restaurant Gaig feels like entering someone’s home. Only, that cosy dining space belongs to Carles Gaig, a well-loved figure of Catalan cuisine. And after four years of operation at Stanley Street, this humble Catalonian home is ready to expand.
Taking over the adjacent unit, the restaurant now comes with more seating, along with fresh additions to the menu. You’ll find quiet nooks and individual dining enclaves, each divided by wood shelvings and other homely furnishings. It makes for a comfy setting to indulge in hearty Catalonian fare – one which Restaurant Gaig excels in.
There’s the quail escabetx ($32), a dish that dates back centuries before where the small bird comes marinated in white wine vinegar. Here, the fork-tender dish comes cooked with sherry vinegar to round out the acidity, and served with confit vegetables. Another must-try is the traditional cannelloni ($16.50); it is made using a recipe that remains unchanged since 1869. Beef chuck and pork collar are first cooked down, then stuffed within the pasta for a meaty bite. Truffle cream sauce is then ladled over to complete this flavour-packed dish.
But not everything comes rooted in history. The restaurant also puts a modern spin on traditional recipes, creating delicious results in the process. The tortilla de camarones ($12.50) is an addictively crispy interpretation of Spanish prawn fritter. Sitting atop a paper-thin base are Japanese sakura ebi, and dollops of lemon mayonnaise add lightness to it. Salmorejo ($17) is a chilled tomato soup typically served with a hard-boiled egg. But here, burrata cheese is used instead to add creaminess, and jamón-infused ice cream lends an icy note to this refreshing soup.
To sample the best of Restaurant Gaig, the best thing to do is to line the stomach with some tapas, then split its impressive paella or fideua that can come cooked with ingredients of oxtail ($32), seafood ($42.50), pigeon ($52.50), and more. A chef’s menu ($108) featuring some of the greatest hits is also available; or drop by on a weekday to sample its affordable lunch set, where a tapas and main goes for $38.
Original review by Nicole Marie-Ng on October 2 2017:
With a history dating back 150 years, Restaurant Gaig is a stalwart of Catalan cooking. Its well-loved family recipes have earned it a Michelin star in Barcelona and now it's brought Catalonian fare to our shores.
The small space feels like home. Simply decorated with pieces that look like they were picked up from a flea market in La Rambla, Gaig makes subtle nods to its heritage without screaming "you are in a Spanish restaurant – order paella and dance the flamenco".
That's not to say you can't. You'll find the likes of pluma ibérica and mushroom paella ($28.20) and lobster paella ($78.80) on the menu, but opt for the more uncommon squid ink fideua ($29.50) instead. Prepared the same way as paella, except with spaghetti instead of rice, the fideua is a mix of vegetables and roasted garlic that explode in your mouth as you bite down on the charred pasta tossed in squid ink.
Gaig's signature suckling pig ravioli with truffle sauce ($32.80) shouldn't be missed either. A thin and delicate layer of pasta encases shreds of tender pork and the whole thing is bathed in a decadent truffle cream sauce that will have you rolling your head back in delight.
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