Cover Chef Antonio Oviedo and General Manager Anton Marquez (Photo: Agora)

The Madrid-born chef and Tatler Dining rising star is bringing contemporary Spanish tasting menus to the historic venue

Opening this May in the heritage complex that is Tai Kwun will be an intriguing new restaurant by one of the industry’s most energetic new talents. Agora by 22 Ships’ Antonio Oviedo and JIA Group marks a new chapter for the Madrid-born chef, who joined the Wan Chai tapas bar back in 2020 and quickly made a name for himself with his fast chat and exciting take on Spanish gastronomy. He was named one of Tatler Dining’s rising stars in 2021, noted for giving 22 Ships a new lease of life, “with a thrilling menu that holds onto just the right amount of tradition”.

Compared to the frenetic pace of 22 Ships, we have a feeling the 24-seater Agora is designed to be more sophisticated, without losing the pep and personality that Oviedo brings to the table; the name Agora refers to the Latin term for a gathering space, after all. The interiors were envisioned by Collective Studio (the design firm behind Penicillin bar as well as the Tatler offices) for their first restaurant project, and brings a blend of rustic terracotta and contemporary red-and-white marble detailing.

At opening, Agora will focus on dinner tasting menus (Menú Gran Ágora) only, featuring 10 and 12 courses that pay homage to the seasonal flavours and ingredients of Spain. Only a few hints at what will be on the menu have been given, such as a crayfish and nectarine dish featuring dehydrated choricero chilli, but when we have dined at 22 Ships in the past, the often intricately presented small plates were a clue to Oviedo’s fine dining experience. Expectations are high thanks to what we already know of his cuisine, bolstered by his resume, which ticks off Michelin-starred restaurants such as Iggy’s in Singapore, the now-closed Arola Gastro by Sergi Arola, Zaranda by Fernando Arellano, as well as well-rated restaurant spin-offs by leading chefs such as Enexto Atxa’s Villamagna.

Oviedo has also committed to supporting Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen, the non-profit organisation dedicated to providing meals to communities impacted by natural and man-made disasters. It’s not the first time he’s pledged support to the charity—in November 2021, the chef partnered with his peers Agustin Balbi and Ricardo Chaneton to host a fundraising lunch dedicated to the victims of the La Palma volcanic eruption in the Canarian Islands.

When it comes to the menu, Oviedo reveals a few items he's planning on including: stews and soups such as kokotxas and gazpachuelo; hake from Saint Juan de Luz in the Basque Country; percebes (gooseneck barnacles); uni ajoblanco; and an Arab dessert with almond, saffron and orange. We’re already looking forward to it. Reservations for Agora will be taken from 27 April onwards, for dinners Wednesday to Sunday.

Agora, Shop 14, G/F D Hall, Tai Kwun 10 Hollywood Road, Central (entry through the Gallery Gate entrance on Old Bailey Street); +852 2316 2005

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