Pica Pica is a Spanish restaurant here in Hong Kong that is quite well known for its food. I’m biased here, but when I think about Spanish food, the first thing that comes to mind is Toro in Boston.
That will probably be the case for many years to come. Since I won’t be visiting Boston anytime soon, at least a few years probably, I wanted to find a good paella restaurant in Hong Kong to satisfy my paella craving.
I turned to Google and Pica Pica popped up. It looked good with its high ratings and hundreds of reviews. It’s also in Sheung Wan, a business district in Hong Kong.
Pica Pica had its own website where you can browse their online menu (thank goodness because it’s annoying when restaurants don’t have them) and book your reservation on there. I prefer places where you can do online reservations. It’s faster than calling or emailing (yes, I have done this in HK before!).
I also went on Openrice to look at food pictures and the pictures look good. Okay, I was officially down to eat here. As a picky eater, I have a procedure that I go through before choosing a restaurant. This all may sound tedious but I swear looking at all three websites was pretty quick.
I recommend booking a reservation. If you want to eat at a good restaurant in Hong Kong, you’re most likely going to have to reserve a table in advance. When I booked, it seemed like there were more than enough tables but I still went ahead and did it. Better safe than sorry in this case.
Arriving at Pica Pica
We had our COVID vaccine appointment earlier in the morning and thought we would have enough time to get to Pica Pica except there was more traffic than expected. Were we going to make it?
Many restaurants have this rule where you can be up to 10 – 15 minutes late or else they’ll give your table away. Sheung Wan is a busy district so I’m pretty sure they can easily give away our table. We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to eat there. It would suck because it’s not a district we go often to eat at.
We ended up arriving at the restaurant at 11:50 am (10 minutes before our scheduled time). Whew! The hostess even asked us if we could come back in 10 – 15 minutes because the restaurant was not fully ready.
I’m really keen on being on time so it would have upset me if we were late. I don’t like it when people are really late. It’s seen as disrespectful so I always try to arrive 10 minutes early. This isn’t possible all the time (we were lucky this time with traffic) but I try my best.
The first dish that came out was the ajillo prawns. I call them garlic shrimps. They were sizzling when it came out. You can see it in the picture above. There’s something about hearing the food sizzle that makes you think it’s going to be pretty good. I took a bite and meh. I couldn’t taste anything. It looks like they added flavour but I couldn’t taste it. Maybe we had to let the shrimps sit in the dish for a bit? Soak up the flavour? Nope. There was no difference.
I have to give one thing to Pica Pica though. The shrimps were very fresh but it just tasted like boiled shrimp. I would have preferred the shrimp to have more flavour. It would be a bonus if they had bigger shrimps. I like jumbo shrimps more even if it means fewer shrimps on the dish.
I really like garlic shrimp. It’s something I’ll always order at Spanish restaurants and will continue to do so. Would I eat this dish at Pica Pica again though? No.
Spanish Lazy Omelette
This dish wasn’t originally in our order. We saw the table next to us eat this. It was interesting because it was chorizo on an egg. I never had anything like that before so we agreed to order one to try.
I could just imagine how fluffy and smooth the omelette would be. To our surprise, there were potato chunks inside. The texture was more chewy and grainy. The flavour was okay. The chorizo added flavour to the omelette but we were quite taken aback by the texture. It bothered us because we expected something more smooth.
The taste was alright but it’s a no for me because we couldn’t get over the texture. But that might be exactly the reason why some people might like this. Apparently, it’s a signature dish at Pica Pica. There must be a reason why.
Red Prawn Hot Dog
We originally only ordered paella and garlic shrimps. We weren’t that hungry because it was a really hot day. After we finished our omelette, this was another dish the table next to us got. The look of it reminded me of a lobster roll and I knew that I had to try.
Our waitress told us we had to squeeze the juice of shrimp’s head onto the roll. Some people might find that gross but we were fascinated. The shrimp roll was very small so it wasn’t that suitable for sharing. You can easily eat it all in two bites. My mom and I split the shrimp roll so I manage to eat it in one.
The shrimp was fresh and juicy. I would recommend this dish. Other than the paella, this is my favourite from Pica Pica but the price is expensive. It’s HKD 148 for a small little thing! So it’s up to you to decide whether or not you can justify the price.
Pica Pica Paella Surf & Turf
Paella is my absolute favourite thing to eat when it comes to Spanish food. Pica Pica’s menu is just called the dish Surf&Turf. I wasn’t sure what comes with the rice because there was no description. Usually, in the menus, there’s some sort of description or ingredients list.
We asked our waiter what’s in the surf and turf paella. He said it’s chicken and seafood.
We were eyeing our options. Their menu had lobster and octopus juicy rice. It sounded appetizing, but the choice was obvious once I knew the paella had chicken and seafood. It’s the best combo in my humble opinion.
There were two sizes. We got the bigger portion since we didn’t order much. We weren’t planning to order more either. None of the other dishes really called to us. Everything else was tapas sized so we weren’t super full.
From experience, I know we had to wait probably 30 – 45 minutes for our rice. We made it this far already. What’s another half an hour or forty-five minutes? It’s what we’re looking forward to eating the most.
When it finally came out, we let the rice settle in for a bit. The pan was extremely hot and I didn’t want to be burned. It was also time to take pictures!
The chicken bites were tender while the seafood was fresh. This was a consistent pattern throughout the dishes we ordered. You can practically taste the great freshness. The paella was also flavourful. Generally, if it’s a rice dish, I prefer a darker colour-looking one than a lighter colour. Pica Pica checked that mark.
We finished everything. It was worth the wait. I haven’t had any paella in a very long time so my craving for Spanish rice is now satisfied for the next little while.
Suggestions for Improving On the Paella
Two things would have taken this dish to another level. It would be even better if they had more seafood AND chicken. A lot of paella restaurants in Hong Kong don’t seem to be generous with their seafood. I understand it’s expensive, but knowing that there’s a restaurant I like that gives plenty of seafood, eating at places with about two shrimps is disappointing, to say the least.
I’m not sure if it’s just me but there wasn’t much rice either. It looked like there was a lot because it came in a large pan but the rice was one thin layer that covered the pan. My mom and I gobbled the whole thing up and were like, ‘that’s it?’ It would have been better if they served more rice.
Final Notes on Pica Pica
All of the restaurant reviews I’ve written about so far talk about how I would visit there again in the future. I wrote quite a variety actually. There’s Fini’s Italian American (Italian), Agehan (Japanese), Summer Palace (Chinese) and now Pica Pica, which is Spanish.
Unfortunately, this is the first restaurant on my list that I will not be going back to.
I was disappointed because the restaurant had such high reviews on Google. On top of that, my mom had several friends who ate here and said it was good. So naturally, we did have higher expectations only for it to fall short.
The food is very fresh but not suitable for our tastes. There were two dishes that we liked: the paella and the shrimp hot dog bun. But it’s not enough for us to go back.
The restaurant is also not the most budget-friendly place. It probably has something to do with the location as it is in the business district.
In summary, Pica Pica is a restaurant for those who…
- work near the district Sheung Wan
- is looking for a Spanish/Western restaurant (many restaurants nearby seem to be focused on Asian cuisines)
- want a relaxed/casual atmosphere
- don’t mind spending some money on a meal
What types of Spanish food do you like/dislike? Let me know in the comments down below.