Rice, the ever-humble grain, is well-loved across countries and cultures. India has biryani, the Italians have their risottos and then there’s Spain with its iconic paella.

While the rest of the world sees this as Spain’s national dish, the credit for this speciality should really go to the autonomous community of Valencia. Valencia paella was typically prepared for special occasions in the great outdoors.

The traditional recipe sparks from a paella — the flat, shallow pan from which the dish has adopted its name from. Short-grain rice, bomba or senia rice, is cooked with broth and typically sees an array of vegetables, seafoods or meats.

Overtime, paella’s popularity ignited a gastronomic craze within Spain and across borders. In the past century, new ingredients are brought over to the dish. Expensive saffron strands and meats are sometimes substituted with other things. But olive oil and rice remain the essentials of any good paella.

In Singapore, Spanish restaurants are dutifully serving up pans of paella along with flavourful tapas bites — offering a range from traditional to downright indulgent. These places here whip up the best.

 

1
Binomio

Paellas at this fine-dining Spanish restaurant are all made for sharing between two diners. Binomio offers more classic variations of the dish, such as the traditional Valencian paella with seafood and a ‘modern’ Spanish version with duck ham and butifara (pork sausage from Catalonia). The paellas come with a prep time of 45 minutes and we recommend tucking into Binomio’s tapas tasting menu first. The wait is worth your while.

2
Esquina

Chef Carlos Montobbio weaves in new flavours and techniques with traditional Spanish fare. At Esquina, Montobbio adds an indulgent spin to paella with lobes of fresh uni, lobster chunks and saffron-infused aioli. Fresh sugar snap peas add a touch of colour and texture in this flavourful dish.

3
FOC Pim Pam

FOC Pim Pam may be better known for its tapas selection, but it also cooks up an excellent slew of paellas. There are seafood and vegetable options on the menu, but the must-have version here is the Iberico with porcini mushrooms. The paella sees generous portions of tender chunks of Ibercio secreto (a delicious cut with great marbling) with dollops of aioli. Diners can also choose to have this as a fideuà, a short noodle dish similar to paella.

4
La Taperia

Les Amis Group’s Spanish restaurant offers up both classic spins and indulgent creations. A must-try is the Paella Negra — a squid ink seafood paella inspired by a dish from the legendary Barcelonan restaurant Las Siete Puertas. If you’re up for a treat, try the Paella de Bogavante with lobster, saffron and runner beans. Best of all, paellas here are available in larger portions for sharing.

5
Ola Cocina del Mar

Ola Cocina del Mar, often hailed as Singapore’s temple of authentic Spanish food, is home to the legendary Black Paella. The luxurious dish is thoroughly infused with squid ink and topped with red mojo aioli and smoked paprika oil. Diners can choose to have this with the day’s selection of seafood, cooked a la plancha, or with fresh Boston lobster at an additional top-up. 

Jasmine Tay
Senior Writer
Jasmine Tay is the dining, culture and jewellery writer. She makes fine silver jewellery and causes mini-explosions in the kitchen when she can't afford fancy dinners. Sometimes she tells people what she thinks about art, and binges on the music of Danzig when they don’t agree.