Hola amigos! The Spanish seem to have invaded the palette of Hong Kong with many Spanish joints opening up left right centre. Theories were abound about this curious phenomenon – was the Spanish economy that bad that talented chefs are leaving the country by the hordes? It’s good news to us foodies in Hong Kong, but all around bad tidings for the poor people of Spain. I mean, what are they gonna do for their paella, churros and aged ham?
Boqueria took centrestage in recent weeks at Lan Kwai Fong.
Named after their flagship restaurant in New York, the philosophy of Boqueria find their gastronomical vortex around simple food and good time. I am all for simple food – life is complicated enough as it is – but some time I do wish that simple food comes with simple prices.
That said, Boqueria is not expensive compared to the average over-pretentious joints dotting around Soho. The tapas menu (ever growing by the week) is reasonably priced between $58 – $98. We had the pleasure of sampling some of the chef’s selection for us hungry foodies. While some find the menu was a little too tuned to the local palette, I for one found it pleasantly Spanish. Hey, give me paella and churros anytime, and my imagination will transport me right back to Barcelona and Madrid.
Back to the food. Oh, how I love Spanish food. Amongst the plethora of Spanish best served that night, there were indeed some hits and misses. To be fair, the restaurant has been opened for slightly over a month and already they are serving a full menu for both lunch and dinner. If this is what they can do during the “growing pain” phase, then I would very much look forward to when they are truly up and running.
Now, if you only have the appetite to sample at most three from their two-paged food menu, I would recommend:
Salteado de Setas
Sauteed wild mushrooms with manchego cheese and thyme. The dish looks deceivingly simple yet so rich in taste, it got me grunting with approval with my first spoonful. The mushrooms were pungent to the right degree; its richness is only intensified with the cheese aroma, balanced slightly with thyme. The result was as potent tapa capable of swooning even the most jaded foodie into a delirious mess – wild mushrooms indeed!
In recent weeks I think I have developed quite an itch for grilled skewers, particularly on the charred taste on slightly burned meat. The seared Australian lamb skewers scratched that spot perfectly; the musky taste of lamb (which I personally liked) was well balanced with the pickled shallots.
Paella de Marisco
Opinions vary on this dish, but I for one found it one of the better dishes for the night. The Bomba rice must have been simmered in some lovely seafood broth, for on its own it was fragrant and tasty, though the lack of safron was rather puzzling. The texture could have been better if it has been more on the chewy side, with some crust at the bottom of the pan, but the monkfish, sepia, squid, shrimps, clams and mussels more than made up for it. The drizzle of salsa verde, though adding a color contrast onto the dish, was rather unnecessary.
Also recommended, these two desserts to end your meal:
Yowza! I loved pineable, and I love – LOVE – how delightful this is. This is my first time having pina inopia; the lingering taste of lime were like salt to my pineapple (a Chinese way of reducing its acidity?). With that black sugar sauce (like the ones you would find in Penang rojak) and served chilled, this was the perfect end to the meal.
Oh, how can you forget churros when it comes to Spanish dessert? I was rather suprised by the version here; instead of the lighter, longer variety served with thick chocolate (like the one I had in Madrid), Boqueria’s version was thicker, heavy with cinnamon sugar, with melted chocolate served on the side as a dip. Not what I was expecting but pleasant nonetheless.
Also worth mentioning is that Boqueria is the first place in Hong Kong draft Estrella Damm, a Spanish beer that taste surprisingly light yet flavourful. Definitely worth a try if you are a beer lover!
Verdict? A surprising twist to the usual Spanish food I had, but nevertheless a welcomed change.
This is an invited tasting session.