Pandan - Fast Food made Good
Sometimes food that might look “fast” and easy have a profound depth to it that you might not see at first glance, but when you get to know the story behind it you realise that this is something completely different than what you expected. This is the case with Pandan.
We met with the chef Aris who runs the show in the kitchen, and when we managed to drag her CV out of her (she is very humble) we almost fell backwards. Aris is from Chicago, and has worked in several Michelin-star restaurants in both Chicago and New York, such as top-notch Marea. When she came to Barcelona she continued her path for success at the Adrià-brothers restaurants such as Hoja Santa. Now she has gathered all her knowledge from the these star-studded kitchens and her extensive travels, and put it all into place in Pandan.
Even if the food at Pandan is great for take-away, I really urge you to stay and take a seat in the back of the restaurant. The decoration is really on point, famous architect and interior designer Cristina Carulla (Media Manga, La Dama) has created a beautiful atmosphere.
The theme of Pandan is fast good, bringing focus to the fact that this is food that is perfect for a lunch break, for taking home or to the office, but without compromising on quality. Because at Pandan a lot of effort is put into the preparation of the dishes beforehand: everything is made in-house. The ingredients are really fresh, and I LOVE how much thought has been put into creating the exciting flavour combinations.
The star of the show in Pandan is the rice paper roll. It comes in many different variations that change depending on the season. The Shrimp roll is a fresh mix of shrimp with cucumber, avocado, lettuce and cilantro. We also loved the Garden roll: a vegan roll with roasted eggplant, cauliflower, piquillo pepper, chive and arugula. Fantastic. The Salmon roll has fennel, green apple, basil and ginger mayonnaise (!) and the albacore tuna with daikon is really good too. Everything at Pandan is lactose free, with many gluten free and vegan options (everything is clearly indicated on the menu so it’s easy to figure out).
After you have chosen your roll(s) you choose your sauce. The Hoisin is spectacular: a classic Asian sauce with peanut. I also really liked the Nuoc Cham, a citric sauce that was perfect for the shrimp roll. Obviously there is a spicy sauce (a Korean style sauce with sesame) and a soy sauce that is infused with ginger.
For a side dish you can choose between a cabbage coleslaw, chicken broth, coconut soup, lentil salad with pesto or a seasoned rice pouch to fill you up. The coconut soup comes in different versions depending on the season, a cold one for summer and a hot one for winter. It was SO GOOD: so warming with a Thai kind of punch to it with a hint of lemongrass.
You can’t leave without having dessert here. Currently they have an indulgent black sesame and chocolate cake, a beautiful, wonderfully light signature cake (above) that is gluten free in addition to being delicious, a banana pudding and a mango and coconut gelatine.
I always pay attention to the drinks menu in a new place: it tells a lot about how well-thought (or not) the whole concept is. Pandan does not disappoint, it has a very interesting menu with many fun options, like Oatly Matcha/Mocha/Latte, kombucha (!), craft beer (including gluten free beer), and the coolest of them all: Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, a true treat! Their coffee comes from El Magnifico, a seal of approval for good quality coffee.
Oh, by the way: soon Pandan will also have a terrace, it will be perfect for a nice cup of coffee or a kombucha and a tasty cake if you’re feeling peckish.
Pandan Fast Good, Travessera de Gracia 8, Barcelona. 932 762 536.