Galanga is Spanish for galangal or galingale, a plant of the ginger family whose root was much used as a spice in the Middle Ages. It went out of use in Europe but it is still an important condiment in Indonesia and other Asian countries.
It’s a good name for this new restaurant where spices and Asian cuisines take up most of the space on one of the most extensive menus I’ve seen in a long time.
Here you can have dishes from the cuisines of Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia and other parts of South-East Asia, not forgetting Europe and even a few dishes with a Spanish touch.
Three cooks ensure the authenticity of these cuisines: a Spaniard, a Moroccan and a Japanese. The Spaniard delved into Thai food when he lived and worked in Bangkok, the Moroccan is an expert on the uses of aromatic and hot spices and the Japanese knows his native dishes and others of South-East Asia.
In the starters section of the large menu I was immediately attracted to gambas wrapped in discs of wanton dough and deep-fried. The thin rounds of wanton dough came out super crunchy and the shelled gamba inside had a lovely terse texture and a scrummy taste. This was one of those dishes in which the contrasts of textures play an important part in the overall success of the dish. Few dishes, though, achieve the delightful brittleness of these wanton wrappings.
Chicken brochettes done in the Indonesian saté style with a peanut flavoured sauce usually have a common fault: the little pieces of chicken dry out in the frying pan. That didn’t happen here. The skewered chicken came to the table straight from the frying pan and was tender and moist. But the dish wasn’t a complete success because of the sauce.
It was a bit thin and didn’t have the intense peanut flavour this dish calls for. The sauce was also a bit lacking in the essential grittiness most of us associate with this dish.
As I have mentioned before, I sometimes choose review dishes because I need the picture for an article in Brisas, the weekend magazine of sister paper Ultima Hora. That’s why I ordered a fresh salmon tartare instead of something exotic from faraway lands. But it was an excellent choice because this salmon tartare was a beauty.
It was freshly minced (I could see the cook chopping away like mad in the semi-open kitchen) and it came with a really nice topping of onion and mango. There was also a side sauce I didn’t use. And there was Indian bread straight from the frying pan. Absolutely splendid.
The menu at Galanga is most ambitious but there are three cooks to handle the various specialities so it’s going to be interesting to work one’s way through it. The crunchy wantons with the terse gamba inside were so splendid I could eat 20 of them and still do an Oliver Twist afterwards.
The Indonesian style chicken saté were tender and moist and it’s a pity the sauce wasn’t up to standard.
The salmon tartare was very fresh, not too finely chopped and also nicely seasoned.
The pan-fried Indian flat bread, soft and warm, was an inspired idea that worked beautifully.
Galanga Asian Restaurant, Paisaje Santa Catalina de Siena 4, Palma (in Los Geranios, the small shopping centre opposite the Plaza Olivar). Tel:664-525876. They do a €15 tasting menu from Monday to Friday that includes a Thai dish, sushi and a Pak-Indian dish. Drinks are not included.
- Gamba wanton, €10
- Chicken brochettes, €10
- Salmon tartare, €10
- 3 cañas, €8.25
Total cost with VAT: €38.25