Food review: Boqueria

Susan Jung

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 July, 2013, 12:46am

We had a distinct feeling of déjà vu when we walked into Boqueria, the Hong Kong branch of the New York original which now has three locations in that city. Nobody in our party had eaten at the restaurant, but we had been to the space it inhabits several times. It has previously housed, in very quick succession, Dakota Prime, Opus Grill and North Carolina Grill Restaurant and Bar. One hopes that Boqueria will last a lot longer than any of those.

The first thing to note is that the service could be better. The staff didn't seem particularly familiar with the menu, a waitress pressed us (not too hard) to order more and the explanations of the dishes weren't always clear - we were told by the waiter that the ice cream served with the soufflé was "cheesy", but a waitress later gave a more precise answer, and said it was cream cheese ice cream.

We ordered almost entirely from the tapas y raciones menu. There is also a meat and cheese menu and a market menu, which sounds as if it would consist of seasonal items, although the only dish that seemed to fit the bill was the beef tomato salad.

The only dish we didn't finish was the Spanish octopus with potatoes (HK$158). Both the octopus (described on the menu as charcoal-grilled) and the potatoes (which were supposed to be crisp) tasted boiled and the dish was generally dull.

Much better was the classic tapas dish of gambas al ajillo (HK$108). The shrimp were nicely cooked, there was a slight kick at the back of the throat from the guindilla pepper and the oil, which we mopped up with an order of bread (HK$28), was infused by a generous amount of sliced garlic. The buñuelos de bacalao (HK$68) are piping hot fritters with a good amount of salt cod - we've tasted other versions that had too much potato. The bombas de la Barceloneta (HK$98) were large, fried balls of mashed potato with a moist, light filling of minced wagyu.

The waitress said the carne a la plancha (HK$148) was a tapas sized portion, but it was surprisingly generous and a bargain at that price. The beef, cooked to a perfect medium rare, was well seared and tender, but it could have used a little more coarse salt. It came with fingerling potatoes and blistered green chillies (described as shishito, although they were much larger than any that we've ever seen).

We enjoyed the desserts, too. The flan (caramel egg custard, HK$58) was simple and classic. The dulce de leche soufflé with market berries (HK$88) looked unassuming, but the name of the dish in Spanish ( bizcocho liquido de dulce de leche) gave you a clue that once you cut into it a gush of rich caramel would flow out. It's so much better than the ubiquitous liquid-centred chocolate cake.

Boqueria, 7/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central. Tel: 2321 8681. Open: Monday to Saturday noon-2.30pm; nightly 6pm-11pm (Thursday to Saturday until late)