The chef from El Pallars (Lleida) opened in January 2018 and now plans to expand through Asia
The Lleida-born Eduard Castellarnau opened La Cala restaurant in January 2018 at the Duke of Bugis in Singapore. Tapas and dishes with all the flavor of the Catalan and Spanish cuisines are the notes that define this establishment with a very commercial and at the same time very well executed proposal. Most of the client is local and, now, Eduard already plans to expand La Cala through Asia …
This chef from El Pallars (his family runs the Castellarnau Hotel in Escaló, and his brother Josep is the current president of the Hospitality Federation of Lleida), he trained at the Hospitality School of Sant Pol de Mar (Barcelona). A training that aroused the restlessness and curiosity of high cuisine in stoves such as El Celler de Can Roca, Can Jubany or Can Gaig. And he has also worked in the kitchen of the Hilton Hotel in Paris, or in restaurants in Scotland or Russia.
“After advising a restaurant in Singapore, I encouraged and rented La Cala premises for four years.
Now, I think we have created a brand and we would like to expand to Asia, opening La Cala restaurant in Shanghai, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Macao or Bali, “says this chef from Lleida.
From the opening, Eduard has Ignacio Pérez from Barcelona as a cook’s second and four months ago, the place is directed by Francesc Torné, from Puig-Reig (Barcelona). Íñigo and Francesc had already coincided in Jordi Cruz’s Àbac.
“We basically do a traditional Catalan cuisine updated. We work with good local produce and other imported products that we import from Catalonia or the rest of Spain”, explains Castellarnau.
The appetizer of the house, oil tasting and butter to the taste of garlic and parsley; peppers of “piquillo” and olivada. Among the most common tapas: Bravas (half-open potato, confit, fried, and stuffed with brave sauce, type Sergi Arola); Iberian ham with bread with tomato; Octopus to the Galician; Shrimp or chicken croquettes; cod donuts; Coca de recapte … But we also found others such as Oysters; the Carabineros Carpaccio with Boletus; My-cooked Foie Gras; Burratta; or Canelones of meat or vegetable.
Another specialty of the house is the fideuà and the rice (that outside the Peninsula, it is not strange that they offer them as “Paellas”). Eduard proposes rice with Bogavante, Erizos, Palomino, or Negro.
The fish of the day, the carabineros to the coal furnace; and the meats complete the letter. Chicken with Plums, crispy piglet; Coder shoulder; and the Iberian secret; the Angus Entrecote; or Wagyu beef as protagonists, make up an offer, mostly carnivorous.
The dessert menu opens with Catalan cream and ice cream; and continue with Chocolate Coulant; Cheese pump; Yogurt spheres; Cheese platter … But, the star dessert in La Cala, and many Spanish restaurants in Asia are Churros with chocolate.
“The level here is very high, and with a lot of competition. But when you do things right, the customer knows that what is worth the good product, and you win life better than in Europe,” says Eduard.
Among the anecdotes, the cook Leridano emphasizes that “it’s hard to find a person. In Singapore there is no unemployment and the staff jumps from company to company. It goes and comes.” “Local workers have no preference for the service, and as you have to have a fee of Singapore workers by law, it costs to keep it,” he adds.
La Cala has an open dining room for about 70 people, as well as two private 10 and 12 seats respectively. The consumer profile is local, citizens or residents of Singapore who work in the area and are clients of the general letter or the executive menu; as well as a more exclusive customer who asks the dining rooms reserved for events, business or celebrations with a tasting menu, more personalized.
La Cala also offers an executive menu at noon each week and a tasting menu that constantly changes or even “personalizes”, so that regular customers always find new dishes.