Chef Antonio Oviedo has opened the doors to his contemporary Spanish fine dining restaurant called Agora. The chef who made his name with 22 Ships has teamed up with JIA Group to showcase his unwavering passion for boundary-pushing cuisine that pays homage to his roots.
Agora’s Contemporary Spanish Tasting Menus
Agora is currently serving two seasonal chef’s degustation menus: Menú Ágora with ten courses priced at HK$1,288 per guest and Menú Gran Ágora with eleven courses priced at HK$1,688 per guest. An optional 5-glasses of Spanish wine pairing can be added to either menu at an additional +HK$850 per person.
As much as possible, the menus highlight premium seasonal ingredients sourced from the greater area of Spain, from Verdial extra virgin olive oil cultivated from centenary olive trees in Málaga. Plump and jumbo-sized Gordal olives will transport guests back to classic tapas bars in Madrid, alongside choricero dried chilli pepper – a dehydrated, non-spicy variety of Spanish red pepper and a classic seasoning of Basque cuisine. And to increase the taste experience, Gamoneu, a fatty, lightly smoked Spanish cheese made in certain parts of the Principality of Asturias using goat, cow and sheep’s milk.
Headline dishes on the seasonal menus include Pil Pil, a traditional cod confit dish made with olive oil, garlic, chilli peppers and Kokotxas. Also, a stewed tongue of cod; Soccarat – which describes the most appreciated toasted bottom part of the paella – features deep-sea Carabinero prawns renowned for their jumbo size and striking red colour, and Bomba Rice, a firm, short-grained variety of rice primarily cultivated in the eastern parts of Spain; and Txuleta (pronounced “chuleta”), which translates to “meat chop”. For this dish, Chef Antonio uses the whole, bone-in rack of Spanish Rubia Gallega beef, the highly prized breed of cattle whose meat is characterised by beautiful yet subtle marbling with a traditionally spicy and slightly salty flavour.
Another of Chef Antonio Oviedo’s flagship dishes is Mar y Muntanya (a Catalan expression for “sea and mountain”). The dish uses the insides of Espardenya sea cucumber, a coveted tear-shaped pea variety found in the coastal area of Euskadi, and Morcilla pig’s blood sausage mixed with a combination of different spices and onions.
For dessert, guests will enjoy Flor de Azahar, which highlights orange blossoms beloved for their beauty, aroma, and healing properties in Spain. Azahar is paired with sweet and meaty Marcona Spanish almonds and Saffron, which is categorised under the PDO La Mancha quality seal, the only spice of this nature with such a recognition of quality in Spain.
Agora’s menu is a true testament to Chef Antonio’s creativity and love for his homeland’s natural bounty of ingredients, a result of working alongside some of Spain’s greatest culinary minds and his recent successes helming award-winning tapas restaurant, 22 Ships.
Agora’s Spanish Wine Program
At Agora, General Manager Anton Marquez has specially designed a wine menu that focuses heavily on wines from Spain. 70% of the wine list comprises Spanish wine varieties, featuring more than 20 Spanish appellations and over 90 Spanish labels. Anton has chosen to work directly with the individual wine-makers of Spain to ensure the quality and consistency of the wines. To complete the wine experience, guests may also enjoy a selection of French Champagnes and fine wines.
Agora’s wine program is ever changing based on the seasonal menus by Chef Antonio.
Artisans of Agora
Agora works closely with various renowned artisans to develop all aspects of the restaurant’s design, from knives and tableware to the overall interior décor. Individuals of note include Ainara Gray, a young artist from Mungia in the Basque Country, who is responsible for Agora’s distinctive custom dishware designs. She has also worked for top Spanish restaurants, including Eneko Atxa and Mugaritz. Ramon Fort is another highly recognised ceramic artist in Spain who creates stunning pieces inspired by the textures of the mountains, forests and rivers that surround his studio in Girona. He has created unique ceramic pieces, especially for Agora, a restaurant which also shares its inspiration from the nature of Spain.
Ester and Xavier from Luesma & Vega, one of the most esteemed Spanish studios focused on designing and producing handmade fine glass plate ware, have helped to create a selection of glassware with organic finishes and warm, natural shapes inspired by Mediterranean culture. Hailing from Jaca, Huesca, Luis Salesa specialises in boxwood spoon-making. For Agora, the wood has been dried for a period of ten years and carved by hand using the traditional carving methods of the shepherds in the Pyrenees.
La Fragua del Pirineo is dedicated to the artisanal production of knives and razors. Pablo Valdeviria is one of the few remaining blacksmiths left in the Pyrenees, who has created special knives and horse bone cutlery stands for Agora in collaboration with Chef Antonio. Finally, Agora works with a wood supplier and local Hong Kong eco-social enterprise HK Timberbank, seeking to bring new life to fallen, uprooted or discarded timber in Hong Kong.
Mediterranean-style Interior Design at Agora by Collective Studio
Collective Studio collaborates with JIA Group to design Agora’s Mediterranean themed restaurant on the ground floor of Tai Kwun’s heritage D Hall, a former prison building. The restaurant is accessed from Tai Kwun’s prison yard through its character-defining, red and white marble archways. The minimalistic 24-seater space has a private dining room that seats ten guests, two individual tables, and a chef’s counter, with contemporary pops of colour provided by red marbled tabletops.
Collective’s design for the interiors is a practice in restraint. Given the heritage protected building, alterations or fixtures on any of the existing stone and brick are strictly prohibited. The material palette was carefully chosen and consciously kept to a bare minimum. The walls and chairs are covered in a beige fabric selected to match the existing granite columns.
The building’s existing granite and grey brick finishes are contrasted by a single, distinctive red marble used for the custom dining tables and the chef’s counter. The floor complements all this with a carpet printed with the same red marble pattern, softening the space and emphasising the intentional single material palette.
Agora and World Central Kitchen
As part of Agora’s philanthropic mission, the restaurant will work closely with World Central Kitchen (WCK), the non-profit organisation created by Jose Andres that works to provide meals to disadvantaged communities in the wake of natural disasters. In times of crises and when disaster strikes, WCK’s Chef Relief Team mobilises to the front lines with the urgency of now to cook and provide meals to people in need. A 1% donation will be added to every bill at AGORA, which will go directly towards aiding and supporting WCK’s work.
Agora is now open for dinner from 18:00 to 22:00 pm on Wednesdays – Saturdays (closed on Sundays – Tuesdays), and reservations can be made via SevenRooms, by calling 2316 2005 or e-mailing [email protected].
Read more restaurant and dining news and features here.