Costa Cuisine- Bank on us


Nueva Andalucía has long been renowned as the home of some of the area’s finest restaurants and now, with the opening of El Banco, it looks as though this very desirable part of Marbella will attract even more visitors.

Tucked away in a corner of Aloha Pueblo, El Banco has taken its name from the fact that it really was formerly a branch of Banco BBVA, but don’t worry – there is nothing boring or corporate about the interior now. El Banco’s owners, husband and wife team Gustavo Kiguelmam and Laura de Luca, have an excellent eye for detail and have transformed this space into a fresh, funky and welcoming restaurant, which is fast gaining an excellent reputation for the quality of its fusion food.

With one successful restaurant already under their belts in the shape of Marbella’s buzzing beachfront La Red, Gustavo and Laura have turned their attention to offering diners an experience that takes in the best of Argentinean, Peruvian and Spanish dishes. Head Chef Giacomo Muzio hails from Peru and his skill at bringing together elements of South American and Spanish cuisine has ensured that, only weeks after its opening, the word is out that El Banco is the latest place to visit for great food.

It is difficult not to keep mentioning this restaurant’s origins (the name inevitably brought us back to it, time and again) but the warmth of the welcome from the waiting staff soon banished thoughts of balance sheets and overworked cashiers. From paying-in slips to the ideal place to chill-out – that is quite some journey, but thanks to the joint skills of Gustavo, Laura and Giacomo, it has been admirably achieved.

The menu offers something for everyone, including some imaginative vegetarian dishes, with the emphasis very much on fresh, light dishes that are ideal for the local climate.

The starters range from classic favourites (Gazpacho, Gambas al Pil Pil and Melon with Serrano Ham) to combinations it seems wicked not to try: the Aubergine Parmiggiana with Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato Sauce and Parmesan, in particular, sounded delicious.

However, in the end we had to make a decision and opted for the fabulous Tuna Tartare Japanese Style with Red Onion, Cucumber, Sesame Seeds and Soy Sauce and the Mixed Ceviche of Sea Bream and Seafood, Limes, Chillies and Coriander served with Corn and Sweet Potatoes. This was where the care that the El Banco team had taken in sourcing their ingredients really came to the fore; the flavours were incredibly intense, these clever combinations colliding blissfully and bursting on the tongue.

The day was warm and the salad selection was so good we had to sample at least one item from the long list. In the end we decided to try the Tropical Salad with Flambéed Prawns in Brandy with Mango, Avocado, Pineapple, Coriander, Red Onions and Cocktail Sauce. Believe me, this was every bit as delicious as it sounds, the heat of the prawns perfectly offset by the glorious freshness of the salad ingredients.

So far, so fishy; we just had to select something from the meat section, so eventually we agreed to share the Pork Roll Fillet filled with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese in a Red Wine Cream Sauce. Visitors to Spain frequently express their surprise at the imaginative things that local chefs do with pork, a skill that obviously extends to South America, since Giacomo and his team really managed to hit the spot with this fabulously tasty creation. The wine in the sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the almost melting quality of the pork with its perfect filling.

Dessert was going to be a challenge, but a little determination goes a long way and, with a Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream on the menu all resistance crumbled. This was even before we had tried the Tiramisú, which, as the late Michael Winner would have said, was historic.

We left feeling as though we had found a real gem of a restaurant, yet another jewel in the crown of Nueva Andalucía.

When it comes to a relaxed atmosphere and fab food, you can most definitely bank on El Banco.

El Banco Bar & Restaurat by La Red Urb. Aloha Pueblo, Local 35 Nueva Andalucía (formerly BBVA Bank)

T. 952 907 570

Costa Cuisine- Tuk in

Tuk Tuk Asian Fusion restaurant offers culinary creativity at its best. Taking ingredients from across cultural  boundaries and adding a touch of personal flair, the Tuk Tuk team creates dishes which reinvent classic Asian flavours with contemporary ingenuity.


Like the different races and religions that make up the human race, fusion binds different regional cuisines into one glorious, outstanding flavour profile. This pretty much sums up my experience at Tuk Tuk. Since its glamour-heavy opening in June, the Marbella glitterati have flocked to this
picturesque location in Aloha. The übersophisticated décor created by Foc Design wins hearts by creating an unbeatably eclectic ambience in which diners can luxuriate. With so much natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, the challenge was to soften the interior to prevent the space feeling too clinical and open – an unusual request for a commercial location.

The colours used are neutral but warm and light-reflecting textures and materials have been cleverly employed. By dropping capiz shell pendant lights over the tables and changing one side to a more casual, chill out area the team has transformed the interior space into a welcoming, comfortable venue without making it feel stuffy. A highlight has to be the glass kitchen, a fine spot to watch the chefs hand-rolling sushi, perhaps, or preparing the popular Calamar Picante. The exterior is where the magic happens: Aloha Garden’s two tier waterfall is the restaurant’s backdrop, along with the resident ducks. With the addition of neutral tablecloths and ornate Asian-inspired parasols, TukTuk’s terrace has been transformed into a little oasis in the heart of Nueva Andalucía.

After being shown to our table we were soon sipping the restaurant’s signature cocktails, listening to sultry acoustic versions of well known classics, while the waterfall created an unprecedented atmosphere that is both intimate and festive - a cooling romantic delight for diners to enjoy before the eatery’s food wows their palates. 

We were sitting next to two Chanel toting socialites who told us that they had dined here for four evenings of their seven day holiday, while the family behind us proudly boasted that this was their third night on the trot. Even my Mum called me the other day to tell me that her neighbour had found this gem of a place where the food was to die for. Yes you guessed it, this was also Tuk Tuk. The amount of returning clients speaks for itself.

It was the special touches that set Tuk Tuk apart from the rest. The offer of complimentary Japanese fans to stop your makeup melting, jewelled handbag hooks to hold your latest Louis Vuitton, homemade crumbly coconut and cinnamon cookies served with coffee and even colouring books for the little ones.

The staff is aware that happy children means that parents will stay longer. And now for the food: I know this is supposed to be a food review but dining at Tuk Tuk is much more than simply refuelling your body. It is a whole experience to be savoured, every detail specific and deliberate, the familiar combined with the exotic.

The menu itself is a combination of current lifestyle trends and classic Asian dishes that ensures a unique experience every time. Head Chef, Kenneth Cabela has taken the culinary scene by storm, creating enchanting cuisine with a twist of fusion; bringing together quality Japanese, Thai, Korean and Chinese ingredients and spices to offer new dining experiences that reflect the Asian world. Tuk Tuk is one of the first restaurants in Marbella to venture away from the standard Chinese model that most of its competitors follow. 

We began our meal with the Thai Fish Cakes, which were the finest I have ever tasted - even better than my own and, believe me, mine are top notch! The combination of the salmon, shrimp and sole served with a spicy green curry sauce on a bed of sautéed mushroom pak choy, took the taste buds on a journey through layers of earthy, sweet and aromatic flavours. Next came the crowd-pleasing dish of cloud-light Squid and Spring Onion
Dim Sum served with just enough tangy Thai mango relish. These little dumplings are fit for royalty. Our final starter was where the blending of traditional and fusion elements were most evident; the deep fried Spring Roll filled with chicken, shrimp, mayonnaise and sweet and sour sauce, light in texture, yet deep and rich in flavour. 

If that hasn’t got your taste buds tingling, for our main course we opted for the assertively grilled and yet succulently tender Lamb Chops, accompanied by Sweet Potato Chips and Chinese Five Spice Sautéed Spinach with a cooling Coriander and Mint Dressing.

Asian restaurants are usually let down by their desserts, so I was anticipating disappointment. However, to my surprise we ended on a high, with a sticky Banana Fritter rolled with palm sugar and offset by a Passion Fruit and Mango Sorbet, which created an interesting textural contrast. It was beautiful to behold and exquisite to consume.

The attentive and friendly staff members are also on hand to provide you with wine suggestions for the perfect accompaniment to your meal.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily and from 4pm to 7pm it’s cocktail time. The musical tempo picks up and you can sample the creative concoctions from the resident mixologist. 

The location, diverse menu and seamless service combine to make this an ideal place to impress your guests. If you decide to get your fusion flavour fix at Tuk Tuk, the culinary sensation is bound to thrill. Nothing fortifies the eclectic and hungry soul quite as wonderfully as the Asian fusion cuisine at
this much buzzed about restaurant.

Tuk Tuk Asian Fusion
Opening times: Mon - Sun
Lunch 12:00 – 1600 Dinner – 19:00 – late
Cocktails – 16:00 – 19:00
Urb. Aloha Gardens, Nueva Andalucia
Tel + 34 951 27 91 88




Costa Cuisine- Zest for Life

zest-for-lifeOften, as far as the eye can see,the landscape of Spain is covered by the drab green of row upon row of olive trees; vital to the country’s tottering economy. In some areas, however, the monotony is broken by vineyards, whilst in others the cheerful orange and lemon groves make a welcome appearance.

Costa Cuisine- Le Papillon - Serene Setting for Sumptuous Beachside Restaurant



For location and ambience, it’s hard to beat Le Papillon Restaurante & Beach Club. Situated on the beautiful beachfront at Marbesa, it is known as one of the best places on the Coast to watch the sunset, which is reason enough to check it out.

The views from Le Papillon are sublime. Boasting a prime position, which offers a sweeping windswept vista of the sunset merging into the Mediterranean sea, this classy restaurant has the lot. Offering an aura of seclusion, with cosy interiors and a relatively hidden location, it’s easy to see why Le Papillion is a hit with tourists and locals alike. Recently refurbished with comfortable, chic furniture it is the perfect setting for lunch or dinner. The heated glass terrace also makes for a great winter dining venue; this really is a place for all seasons and an experience not to be missed.

The largely European, but Spanish tinged menu adds to the overall experience. Most dishes are served with a twist of creativity: delicious examples include the Warm Salad of Squid and Chorizo with a zingy Lime Dressing and the Sole with Prawns, Lemon and Basil Butter.

Staff members are friendly and display an excellent knowledge of the menu, so their recommendations are spoton. The flexible table layout caters as well for couples as groups and intimate conversation is still possible even when the place is bubbling over. On the other hand, even when only half full, Le Papillon still manages to create a buzzing atmosphere, aided by the warm welcome it extends to guests who only want a cocktail or two. The new, dedicated bar area also offers its own resident gin specialist and the cocktail selection, as you might imagine, is marvellous: Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Mai Tai and – of course - sangría. Despite its upmarket ambience it is a beach bar after all and, even at a deluxe chiringuito such as this, some classics must be maintained.

One of the few places to have an interesting children’s menu, the 9.95 euro option includes a main course and dessert with choices such as Homemade Hamburgers or Spaghetti Napolitana.

If you fancy making a day of it, Le Papillon also offers luxurious chill-out beds for an amazing 25 euros per day. Should you wish to relax in style, you can take advantage of a chill-out bed and a bottle of champagne (Moët & Chandon, of course) for an incredible 75 euros; the perfect romantic day out. We arrived in time to watch the sunset which, combined with our specially created gin concoctions, kick-started our evening. The meal began with a delicately perfumed Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup with Coriander, followed by lightly battered Tempura of Prawns, offset beautifully by a pungent aioli dip. For mains we feasted on the signature dish of Roasted Rack of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic, while the Lime and Chilli Monkfish Tail with Pea Guacamole was a revelation in intense flavour matching. Don’t wait for a cannon load of chilli but relish the restrained use of this spice.

Make sure to leave room for dessert, because you really can’t leave without having tried the delicious puddings, which will surely give your meal the sweetest ending. We opted for the oh so naughty Eton Mess and Le Papillon brought the flavours of an English summer to our table with this clever twist on a traditional favourite. The sumptuous, indulgent, sticky mess of crunchy meringue, tart strawberries oozing their fragrant summery juices and rich cream was quintessentially a decadent treat.

The romanticism of the rippling waves, twinkling twilight and outstanding cuisine combine to make this beachside favourite a seamless dining experience.

Le Papillon Restaurant and Beach Club Urb. Marbesa, Ctra. de Cádiz Km. 193, 29604 Marbella

T. 952 834 113

Costa Cuisine- A decade of alluring cuisine

nikkibeach2Nikki Beach has been called ‘the sexiest place on Earth’ and markets itself as the epitome of chic and glamour. In short, Nikki Beach is a way of life – and a good one at that.

Nikki Beach is an award winning restaurant and favourite beachside spot for the rich and famous. The Marbella ‘in crowd’ can always be found bronzing themselves on enormous exotic plush lounge sun beds, sipping champagne on the beach and dancing to the all-day grooves of worldclass DJs and live entertainment.

Costa Cuisine- Buon Appetito!

buonappetito-1La Fiorentina Ristorante Italiano has been gaining a sterling reputation for years. Its prime location, in front of Hotel Crowne Plaza Estepona, must be a factor as is the genius of the Pigani family, who own it and the personal touch provided by manager, Brigitte Pigani. The addition of live music every day means that it is quite an experience to dine at this friendly yet gracious restaurant. 

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