Spanish Style: Fresh from a thorough revamp, JIA Group’s 22 Ships has reopened on Wanchai’s Ship Street with a fresh new look but the same cozy neighborhood vibes and decadent plates.
Look & Feel: 22 Ships is small and simple, in keeping with its intimate neighborhood feel. Diners are greeted by an elegant forest green facade, part of which features indoor-outdoor seating for diners. Inside, diners are accommodated around the “chef’s bar” which overlooks the kitchen or at the smattering of tiny booths and tables. Various bottles of booze, legs of meat, and jars of sauces line the walls or hang from the ceiling, visually attesting to the eatery’s focus on quality ingredients. A chalkboard that takes over a whole wall displays the menu and ever-changing specials.
On the Menu: Most people just assume that 22 Ships is about tapas, but it’s so much more than that. Here, the menu is all about high-quality tapas dishes and heftier mains, all inspired by Spanish tradition, infused with fresh seasonal produce, and given a modern twist.
Of course, you’ll want to start with a few tapas dishes. The Boletus Croquetas ($48/piece, +$25 for Iberico Ham) are well executed, but a little dense and rather too earthy. But, the Ajoblanco with sardines and grapes ($128) is light and fresh, and the Carabineros al Ajillo ($168) are grilled and seasoned to perfection. The off-menu grilled octopus with Romesco and potato sauce was equally impressive.
For mains, we sampled an a la carte dish as well as some of the seasonal mains; the Whole Grilled Turbot Bilbaina with Black Potatos and Coriander Mojo ($348) is flavorful and delicate. The seasonal dishes, though, is where 22 Ships really shines – the two dishes we tried were the perfect tribute to autumn. The Corzo Roe Deer Loin ($228) is perfectly tender, and the addition of berries and celeriac offer the ideal seasonal flavors; the Wild Mushroom and Ibericon ($188) is a rich, decadent dish that barely needs the covering of black truffle to make it utterly moreish.
A simple drinks list offers a selection of tipples to balance the meal. Think punchy sangrias and sherries, draft beers, and an eclectic roster of wine.
Jeng: This is truly decadent Spanish food done to perfection. Everything was perfectly cooked, well-presented, and presented a contemporary ode to Spanish culinary traditions.
Not So Jeng: The only real thing not to love about 22 Ships is its size. It only hosts a few tables at a time, so you’ll get there early if you want to get a seat.
Meet the Chef: Madrileño chef Antonio Oviedo has trained with some of Spain’s best chefs, so he certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to Spanish food. His access to the best fresh, sustainable ingredients and approach to regional Spanish dishes offers an accessible, contemporary take on tapas.
Great For: Casual dinners for two.
FYI: If you can’t nab a table for dinner, it’s worth dropping by for drinks and nibbles beforehand.
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This writeup was based on an anonymous dining experience that was fully paid for by the author. See our editorial policy here.