Hola is a newly opened Spanish tapas bar by Binjiang’s Powerlong Mall which fortunately is located on the side of the mall and not inside it, so it feels like a separate entity complete with patio seating outside. The owners, Teresa and her husband, are Hangzhou locals who spent 11 years in Madrid before returning back home. Their love of Spanish food led them to open Hola, which is primarily a bar that happens to do really good Spanish tapas.
Hola is also one of the most stylish bars we’ve seen recently. High lofty ceilings, antique decorations and a European flair make this bar immediately comfortable and inviting. The first floor is occupied by a long bar and a shop in the back that has some antique products, bronze jewelry, bags and shoes for sale. The second floor has a long table for communal gatherings and a set of leather armchairs next to a window with wispy white curtains that lets in soft filtered sunlight.
You can easily spend a leisurely afternoon here sipping sangria and grazing on tapas then transition into nighttime revelries when the bartender arrives at 6pm to mix some creative cocktails. We heard they were planning to do some cocktails with yangmei fruit that evening and promised ourselves we’ll come back again on an evening.
Back to the bar, you can’t miss the two legs of jamon Iberico perched seductively on the counter, tempting you to come closer and watch the servers slicing plate after plate of this heavenly ham. At Hola, they serve 3 grades of jamon Iberico. Starting at the highest grade, Black Label (150RMB for 1 person portion, 268RMB for 2-3 person), is from 100% purebred Iberico pigs that roam oak forests and feed on acorns for the last few months of their lives. Red Label (120RMB/208RMB) are pigs with 50% Iberian heritage who also roam the acorn forests at the end of their lives. Green Label (99RMB/168RMB) are 50% Iberian heritage but these pigs are kept in pasture and fed a mix of acorns and grain.
The Black Label has an incredibly sweet fragrance, a deep ruby colour and a luxurious fatty texture, melting away in the mouth. This is pure indulgence. It’s what angels and cherubs would be eating in heaven.
The Red Label does not reach the same level of superlatives as Black Label of course, but it is a very fine jamon in its own right, the colour is more a dusty garnet, the texture not as melty and the flavour is sweet but more subtle.
Among some of the tapas we had were Spanish Chicken Wings (24RMB) that were marinated with garlic the night before, then fried in a 50/50 mixture of olive oil to sunflower oil. Very tasty and finger licking good.
Though the Squid Ink Paella (98RMB) only had a few clams on top, it did not lack in taste. The rice has soaked up all the seafood broth used to cook it and every grain has a rich seafood taste.
Fried Mackerel with Mashed Potatoes (22RMB) is fish cooked Spanish style and the potatoes are hand-mashed with jamon Iberico oil! Yummy.
They carry some bottled alcoholic beverages from Spain, such as Maeloc Cider and Estrella Shandy, which is beer with a touch of lemon. Both are refreshing drinks to beat the summer heat.
There is a Sangria or Cider with Tapas Set (48RMB), every day from 16:00-20:30, choose from tortilla de patatas, Spanish Chicken Wings or Fried Mackerel with Mashed Potatoes. Then on Sundays – Thursdays, 18:30-20:30 there’s happy hour with buy-1-get-1 free cocktails.
Residents of Binjiang are getting luckier each day with the opening of a place like Hola. The rest of us will have to start figuring out ways to fit a jaunt across the river into our schedules