It’s hard not to be excited when I hear about new tapas restaurants opening, and recently my excitement levels have been hitting record highs with tapas spots opening left, right and centre. One of these newbies is New York’s Boqueria, joining the buzzing throng of restaurants in LKF Tower.
The space is gorgeous, with high tables, low hanging lights and a melange of wood and tiles, with the obligatory rustic blackboards and legs of jamón, por supuesto! The look, together with its lively atmosphere (be prepared to shout a little bit to be heard) and Spanish head chef David Izquierdo, gives it an authenticity that many of Hong Kong’s tapas joints lack.
No tapas experience is complete without some delicious Manchego cheese and jamón Ibérico. Platters of these were there to greet us when we arrived, and kept being served as the remaining guests appeared. Pretending I hadn’t had any the first time round, I couldn’t refrain from serving and re-serving myself more of these authentic delicacies.
The pan con tomate was again dangerously moreish, but thankfully there was only enough for one each. The rustic crunchy bread was lovingly brushed with tomato, olive oil and garlic, and tasted even better when topped with the gorgeous ham.
The Pintxos Morunos (lamb skewers) that followed looked delightful yet in actual fact were a little overcooked and dry. A dollop of salsa verde helped, yet still didn’t win me over.
The Bombas de Barceloneta, however, were incredible. I adore croquetas in their normal form, but these were out of this world! A crispy outer layer gave way to beautifully fluffy mashed potato and an inner core of minced beef. The balls were then drizzled in salsa brava and alioli, of which sadly there was not enough. I began with half a ball, in an attempt to be polite…. but ended up gluttonously chowing down another one and a half balls. Oops.
I was pleasantly surprised by the salteado de setas, which consisted of sautéed wild mushrooms, a sprinkling of thyme and Manchego cheese. The mushrooms had the perfect light, tender texture and a refreshing citrusy flavour that begged me to serve myself second and third helpings.
The albondigas (lamb meatballs) that followed were full of flavour, although also a little on the dry side. Nonetheless the tomato sauce was divine and the dollop of sheep’s cheese added an extra comforting touch. I would have liked to mop up the sauce with crusty bread but failed to ask for some.
Even more delicious was the carne a la plancha (grilled hanger steak). It was beautifully cooked and lovely and tender. The fingerling potatoes it was served on were wonderfully crispy on the outside and deliciously fluffy on the inside, and the sweet and slightly spicy shishito peppers added a subtle kick.
The grand spectacle of the evening was the enormous paella de mariscos. Made with bomba rice, which absorbs three times its own volume of liquid, it had an excellent texture and so much flavour. However, whilst the monkfish, squid and prawns were delicious, the clams and mussels were slightly disappointing in both size and texture. Yet all in all it was definitely one of the better paellas I have come across in Hong Kong.
Despite all this food, when it comes to desserts I always manage to find my second stomach and gratefully received the much-anticipated churros con chocolate. They were perfectly crispy yet doughy and lovingly sprinkled with plenty of sugar and cinnamon – lovely and healthy!
All of this was of course washed down with ample amounts of delicious sangría that went down far too easily for a Tuesday night. The things you readers make me do!
Prices at Boqueria are definitely reasonable (for a filling meal for two plus a couple of drinks, you’d be paying around $700-800) and I have no complaints about the service. It’s a fun, lively place with real Spanish food that is certain to succeed, even if it’s down to the churros alone!
7/F, LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Tel: +852 2321 8681