Lunchtime in the Bangkok metropolitan is an eagerly-awaited break, particularly for working people wanting to re-boot their energy after an intense morning. Quick-and-easy canteens are swarmed by hungry zombies, while escapists prefer relaxing cosmopolitan venues with à la carte options. L+T has discovered a diner more unique than the average sushi-ya or trattoria. I’m taking you to a tasca!
Tasca is the Spanish word for a tapas bar-cum-tavern. Osito – meaning ‘little bear’ – sits within Mahatun Plaza, adjoining Ploenchit BTS Station, and is our destination. My first impression is of an industrial-style setting warmed up by Mediterranean touches such as its Catalina tile staircase, plus wooden high-top tables and wine racks – a good prelude to the sequence of Spanish tapas to come.
We start with a plate of Ensaladilla de Patatas. The creamy potato and mayonnaise in this salad is the perfect complement for the shrimp, crunchy celery, and salty anchovy, olive and capers. It whets our appetite and we can’t wait for the next dish.
Almejas a la conserva or ‘preserved clams’ follows and is served in a very creative way – sitting in a sardine tin are freshly-cooked clams and octopus in a spicy and herby salsa-like broth. I dip the accompanying crusty baguette enthusiastically into the tin, again and again. It’s hard to stop!
Next comes a serving of Pinchos, the Spanish canapé that is usually mistaken to be tapas. Small bites of baguette are topped with different toppings: meatballs, anchovy, blood sausage, mushrooms and much more. I’d describe this canapé as Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, when ‘… you never know what you are going to get’.
Paella de Mariscos is the highlight of our meal, of course, and the robust aromas floating out of the flat, open steel pan as it approaches our table will make you drool helplessly. The saffron-colour rice, which has been cooked over an open fire with large shrimps, calamari, clams and olives, is a must-try. But be warned, it takes more than two to finish it.
A heavenly dessert rounds off our lunch. Arroz con Leche is a creamy rice pudding infused with cinnamon and orange zest, and served with milk caramel and mixed nuts. Its mouthfeel is pleasing – warm and soft with some crunch.
And don’t forget the drinks. Apart from well-known wines and gins on offer, Osito’s sangria and mocktails are also good for quenching thirsts. We recommend Mint Lagoon – a blend of pineapple, mango, elderflower, lime and mint that, I’m sure you can guess, tastes like a Hawaiian elixir!
Osito is owned by genuine foodies who yearn to share their favourite Spanish dishes with others, so I confirm that you’ll be served top-quality food made with fresh local ingredients in a convivial ambience. It has its community of regulars, and Happy Hour is especially popular. If you want to try Spanish cuisine, pay a visit. As the Spanish say: ‘Al freir de los huevos lo verá’ which means ‘The proof of the pudding is seen in the eating’. Qué aproveche!
Presented by Rangsimun Kitchaijaroen
Special thanks to Osito