Monday, 4 February 2019

Pre-Chinese New Year Pigout : El Cerdo 2019

When was the last time I was at El Cerdo? Ah, it was back in in 2016 and my previous pigout there with my brother was in 2015. All in all, I have been to El Cerdo six times, including this latest visit.

This time I made reservations and we got ourselves a better seating. It looks like EL Cerdo was all decked out for Chinese New Year

A golden pig greeted us at the entrance. Oinks!

After checking the menu, we decided to try the tapas and another thing we wanted was the paella. For drinks, it was a Caffe Latte (RM17.00) for my brother .........

....... and an Americano (RM13.00) for me.

We were served complimentary bread and butter. Very fresh, very wonderful.  I eat carbs now. Loved it.

Now for the tapas.

We have been watching too many food channels and we have watched people going in and out of cafes in Spain for tapas. We wanted some without having to go to Spain.

Chorizo Al Vino (RM30.00, semi-cured chorizo braised in garlic and red wine). Very robust flavors, the chorizo was chewy and overall this was a tad too salty for us. 

Calamares A La Romana (RM26.00, deep fried squid with aioli). Crispy no doubt, but chewy. 

Gambas Con Beacon (RM33.00, tiger prawns wrapped with bacon and aioli). The prawns were cooked just right and hey, anything with bacon gets our thumbs up. This was our favorite.

One dish were looking forwards to was the paella. We have had good experiences with the paella on our previous visits but this time something did not seem right.

This is the Mountain Paella (RM112.00, bacon, chicken slices and fresh assorted mushrooms). The look of this paella (the appearance of the rice) reminded me of Sean's post of his not-so-stellar paella experience in Barcelona. 

Why am I being so fussy? Look. The paella was wet.

The rice was under cooked and my brother described the rice as "crunchy". As you know, under cooked rice has a bite to it.  I don't normally kick up a fuss at a restaurant unless if I feel strongly about something. So I called for assistance and a young server approached. I informed her that the paella was too wet.

The young lady responded indignantly that "paella is like that". She was rather condescending when speaking to us. Darling, this is not my first time eating paella at El Cerdo. I remarked that it was not wet like this the previous times we had it. I also pointed out that the rice was under cooked.

She gave us an irritated look and reluctantly took the paella away. If I am going to pay RM112.00 for this, it better be good. So we waited.

It came back (sans lemon wedges), slightly better but still too soggy for my liking. At least the rice was cooked. I took only one serving. My brother, not being a fussy pot like me and not wanting to waste my hard earned money, finished the paella.

When the second server came to check on us, I told him that the paella was still too wet for me. I was again told that "paella is like that". There is really no point arguing. As far as I am concerned, the rice should be moist but not starchy and  soggy like risotto.

Some of you may tell me that there are wet versions in certain regions in Spain, yes, I am aware and if El Cerdo is going down the road of the wet version, then I had better make a note to inform the server of my preference for dry in my not-so-soon future visit.

Let me show you what the paella looked like on my previous visits.

Paella from 2015. No excess moisture. Crusty at the bottom.
Back then we were told that their Spanish customers like it cooked until the bottom is crusty, which suggests that the rice ought to be drier.

Paella from 2016. Again, no excess moisture as with my earlier undocumented visits.
I was quite annoyed being told twice that the soggy paella "is supposed to be like that" and I thought the paella that day was subpar. If you read my post from 2015, you would know how much we loved the paella.

What made up for the less than stellar lunch was the Werner's Special (RM32.00, fresh strawberry in mango sauce with chocolate mousse and wild raspberry sorbet). 

There's nothing like a fabulous dessert to cure a broken heart. The server suggested splitting one dessert into halves and my brother told her "the last time our dessert was split, we were not happy about it" hah... hah...

If we could lick the glasses clean, we would. Best item of the day. 

Oh, we were given fortune cookies at the end of of meal. My brother's is on the left and mine of the right.

Total damage for the day RM312.70. We were deeply disappointed with the paella as it did not meet with the standards that we have come to expect of El Cerdo.

I will now leave you with a video on how to cook paella. Perhaps that's what I should do.


  1. Pity the staff were quite condescending about the paella to you.

    1. When the paella was clearly under cooked and she tells me that "paella is like that", wah I almost mengamok there and then hah...hah...

  2. That is a so not nice experience, especially with the staff sounding condescending. I have not been there since 2014 and from your experience here I wouldn't go again.

    1. I was disappointed with the paella and even more with the staff's attitude.

  3. i think home-made paella would be a great idea - it'll probably take a few rounds before you're satisfied with your results, but hopefully you'll enjoy it! i have confidence in your skills! :) i love the firm, crusty-bottomed sort of paella too, moist but not mushy, luscious but not soggy ... gosh, i haven't been back to el cerdo for maybe half a decade (though i did love it a lot ten years ago), but i see from your prices that inflation has hit them a lot too, definitely by at least 50 percent for certain dishes since 2014 ...

    1. Why, thank you for your confidence in me! As a matter of fact, I ordered a paella pan! wahahaha!! The prices here are not so encouraging for people like me, hence I visit only once a year.

  4. For a while, I thought that was black vinegar pork leg!

  5. Haven't try tapa yet.

    Happy Chinese New Year to you!!

  6. Frustnya...... dahlah mahal!
    Pernah dengar jugak Paella ni cuma tak pernah makan. Rasanya kalau orang bagi makan Paella ni guna bubur nasi pun I bedal jugak sampai licin hahahaha

    Happy Chinese New Year LL, Gong Xi Fa Cai....

  7. I've not had paella before...and that's because it's a sharing dish and I've not gotten people who would want to eat and share that dish with me. Even though I've not had it before, I do know I'd like it dry too with socarrat...hehe! ;) It's exactly how I'd like my claypot rice too (our Malaysian 'counterpart')...dry and with a crusty bottom...haha! :D

    I hate it too when the service staff sound condescending. They shouldn't underestimate what the customer knows and tries to be too clever. It was like my experience at Steaks & Lobsters when the server brought me a raw ribeye to show and explain to me that it's a fatty cut. Of course I know it's a fatty cut, that's why I like it for its good marbling but some pieces could just be too fatty.

    1. Ah, I see that you know your socarrat and you love your socarrat! If you ever find yourself at El Cerdo, as added insurance you might want to tell the service staff that you want socarrat hee..hee...

      I feel that the server should listen and then take the dish away to consult the kitchen rather than impose their own inaccurate knowledge/judgement on us.

  8. So disappointing and frustrating to have the server irritated and defensive over the paella.