Chapas open for around 18 months in Beaufort Street near the corner of Walcott is Asian fusion style place, but centred on small, shared plates – Chinese tapas I guess. It is beautifully decorated in reds and golds, with lanterns, Chinese prints and paintings, solid wooden tables and chairs – eye catching indeed on entry.
The waiters are uniformly professional, friendly and welcoming and happy to run through any unfamiliar dishes – they set the scene well. Water to hand quickly and a small dish of complimentary chilli pickled cucumber – this is a great little snack and would be just the ticket with drink alongside.
We were in for a light dinner before heading off to a housewarming nearby, so didn’t order too much – first up a platter of mixed dumplings, followed by fried prawns, and an oyster omelette.
The four dumplings, served in a wooden steamer were, respectively, cuttlefish, coriander and prawn, scallop and prawn and lobster, prawn and asparagus. The hit for us was the scallop version– a juicy scallop sat on top of the gelatinous prawn dumpling – the prawn mix pleasantly spiced and moist. The cuttlefish was noticeable with the dumpling skin stained with squid ink, and the filling again was moist and tender. In fact, all had chewy, but tender skins, and all fillings were similarly juicy and tender.
The prawns, Exmouth Kings, were a good size, battered and sat on a round of cucumber and a thin sticky rice crisp, surrounded by squares of sweet, mango sorbet – the iciness of the sorbet a great contrast to the battered, fried prawns. The prawns were well-cooked, retaining a pleasing firmness, although we thought the batter a touch too heavy – a tempura style would have suited the dish more. But a minor point.
And then the dish that was for me was the pinnacle – Teochow style crisp oyster omelette – chock full of plump oysters, oozy mozzarella, coriander and chilli, served with fish sauce vinaigrette. This was gorgeous – everything came together to produce a delightful dish – I love oysters but rarely eat them cooked, I am a natural man, but these could give cause for pause – top dish.
However, dessert still called – and most of all a Szechaun chilli chocolate semifreddo. A square of frozen chocolate dessert was topped with a light, airy tofu mousse and meringue to top it off. The chilli component of the semifreddo was pretty high I can tell you, the contrast between the ice cream and the chilli something special. Loved this, too….
A small but well-chosen wine list supports the food – and we enjoyed a couple of glasses of Vinaceous Raconteur Cabernet Sauvignon with our meal – violets and blackberries on the nose, juicy fleshy palate of blackcurrants, plums, chocolate and mulberries. Perfect….
Chapas is well worth a visit – although the menu is about to undergo a seasonal change so some of the dishes we had may no longer be on it – you should hope that the omelette and the semifreddo are, however. We will be back….