I know, I know…two posts on carb-eating within one week. What’s gone wrong? Sometimes, life is just too short. Dinner last Friday was courtesy of Bomba, the hip, low-key Spanish restaurant just off Mohammed Sultan. One of the owners – Miss Y – is a friend who kindly invited me to come and try it out.
Bomba is actually part of the No.38 Martin Road development (it’s next door to Baker & Cook) which is a part of town I love. You can get anywhere from here in a matter of minutes; Orchard is a stone’s throw away yet you feel miles from its hustle and bustle. Martin Road also happens to be just around the corner from the Gallery Hotel with its incredible resident magician – perfect for after-dinner cocktails.
But I digress. Bomba is a small, well run restaurant like the sort you’d expect to find in New York’s East Village; it has a genuine charm to it that you feel as soon as you walk through the door. It was packed when we were there on Friday.
There is no over-the-top ritzy decor (they did all the decor themselves in fact), it’s much too cool for starchy linen pretensions.
I love that they’ve used red plastic milk crates as light shades above the bar, that they’ve bravely put wall lights on the ceiling and commissioned their very own graffiti wall at the far end.
You don’t, of course, just go to a restaurant because it looks nice; you also go for the food, which for me is always a deal breaker. If it’s not good, I won’t come back.
YL ordered for us which is the way to go when you are with someone who knows the menu backwards. The Spanish chef Jean Philip has drawn up a rustic, relaxed menu with none of the fine dining airs and graces (and prices) of somewhere like Catalunya but with lots of taste and character.
Help yourself to cutlery – it’s in a jam jar on your table (frankly it’s sometimes a relief not to be eating off starched linen every time you go out) – and get stuck in.
Very much a place for sharing dishes, which adds to the relaxed vibe, we ate:
…these beautiful, grilled red prawns (this photo has not been touched up, this is their real colour) called Carabineros Prawns that were deliciously sweet. I even managed to follow strict orders from the chef to suck the head of the prawn which he promised had the flavour of lobster bisque. He was right (the liver of a prawn is in its head apparently, which is why it tastes so good and why the Spanish are such ‘suckers’).
I wolfed about three quarters of the plate of these green salty, bitter-ish but delicious peppers (Pimentos del Padron).
Next up was the stuffed courgette flower which was excellent. The spicy tomato sauce cut through the filling really well. I could have eaten this twice over (actually I really didn’t like the sound of it on the menu; it’s stuffed with mackerel but, I promise, it is worth ordering).
There were also cheesy, iberico croquettes that were not lookers but sinfully good; we ate razor clams in a tomato and garlic salsa that were fresh and lovely as well as the pièce de résistance: squid ink paella.
I was rather skeptical about this dish. It’s black, for starters. Pitch black. But God, it’s good and I would order it all over again despite the fact it makes your teeth go black – well, only momentarily; have a few swigs of wine and you suddenly look better. That, or you stop caring. Surprisingly creamy, the secret is in the quality of the rice. They use – as their name rather suggests they might – Bomba rice.
Lastly we scoffed down (actually we couldn’t, we were stuffed, there were only two of us) their coal-pit cooked Iberico pork loin – Secreto Iberico – which was melt in the mouth delicious and actually, weirdly, tasted nothing like pork. More like beef.
Pud included a homemade, bitter chocolate ice cream that was about 95% dark choc and cream and only 5% sugar. It was served with sourdough bread and salted olive oil and tasted just as ice cream should, but never does. I mean, it almost felt like it was good for you.
Bomba currently has a bunch of offers on during the week. At the moment there is 50% off all paella dishes ordered on a Monday; on Tuesdays there’s 50% off all bottles of wine when drunk with a dish; whole suckling pig is 50% off on Wednesdays (you must order this 24 hours in advance) and on Thursdays all boston lobster dishes are half price. Yum. And if that’s not enough, on Sundays there is an a la carte brunch (order all you can eat straight from the menu) priced at just $48. For updates on their latest offers, check Bomba’s Facebook page.
It’s also worth saying that although Bomba is super close to town, it’s actually in a residential area and people eating here are encouraged to wear pretty much anything they want/whatever they’ve thrown on, whether it’s shorts, flip flops or Ferragamo. Think jeans and heels rather than chiffon and Chanel.
Bomba Paella Bar, 38 Martin Road
T: (+65) 6509 1680