With its delectable tapas selection and vibrant atmosphere, Boqueria is a worthy torchbearer to Hong Kong’s tapas bar scene
Tucked in the heart of Hong Kong’s party central, aka Lan Kwai Fong, is Boqueria, which also happens to be the celebrated New York tapas bar’s first branch outside the United States. It being on the 7th floor of the LKF Tower be prepared to queue up for a while, especially on a Friday night as only two lifts are made available to service the various dining establishments – and there are quite a number – within the building. But props to the maitre d’ for holding our table despite being a little late – one wouldn’t expect to be as reasonable especially on a busy night.
Once you step out of the lifts, you immediately know that you’ve come to the right place as you’re bombarded with Spanish beers, ham and other food products right at the foyer of the restaurant. While it’s supposed to evoke Barcelona’s famous Boqueria market, I felt the overall décor a bit ‘spartanesque,’ but no matter, the unmistakable party vibe inside will more than make up. Guests are greeted by a pulsating tapas bar, where all the activity and sound seem to revolve. While it’s probably not the most ideal place for a peaceful meal, rest assured that you’re still afforded that ample amount of privacy as the tables are spaced, with a few available at the edge for some quiet.
The menu is deceptively simple – single page ranging from the requisite tapas, salads and soup, cheese and sausages, and of course mains, which includes seafood and meat. It would be remiss to miss out on the gambas al ajillo – shrimp with garlic and Guindilla pepper in olive oil – which we found it perfectly cooked, with the shrimp retaining its succulence and not overpowered by the garlic. The croquetas cremosas was a fine accompaniment with the creaminess well equalized by the bits of mushroom and Serrano ham. For our starch we had the bikini de trufa y jamon cocido, which was crispy on the outside but pleasantly overwhelmed by the flavour of tetilla cheese.
We decided to skip mains and stick with the appetizers so we continued on with a platter of Spain’s finest embutidos – or sausages for those keeping score at home – featuring a plateful of jamon Serrano, chorizo and salchichon cold cuts and a serving of bread slices. They were flavourful, though a bit much on the salty side, but overall still a satisfying choice. We also made sure not to miss out on the chorizo frito al vino tinto, Spanish sausage slices sautéed in red wine reduction. It had the perfect balance of sweet, salty and the slightest hint of spice; the sauce was quite thick though and could have done with a little less but this dish was the clear winner for the night.
Boqueria offers a wide selection of whites and reds, especially from the much-vaunted Rioja region. Their selection of sangrias and beer also impresses, while the cava could do with some more variety. Also, the staff would do well to be more proactive in pairing selections with your order.
The slight hiccup in ordering the wine notwithstanding, the overall service was very pleasant and attentive. They never once flagged or – as clichéd as it may be – lost that ‘service with a smile’ despite being in the middle of the Friday dinner rush.
The total bill came out to a little over HK$1,100 – a good value considering 5 dishes and a couple of drinks. The servings were more than enough and we could have invited another friend to join us and still came out filled. Add to that, the vibrancy of the place makes Boqueria an essential in Hong Kong’s burgeoning tapas scene.
|Accept Credit Card||Yes|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|