A NEW TAPAS JOINT IN HONG KONG’S TRENDY SOHO AREA
Hong Kong has a plethora of dining options that can sometimes be seriously overwhelming, but an option I can never resist is tapas. Lots of little nibbles to share is how I like to eat (you get to try the a bit of everything that way!), so I personally think that tapas is always a good casual dining option if you’re looking for a lighter meal. When I was invited to try out the offerings from recently opened Bocadito in Soho, I was excited to see what this self-proclaimed tapas bar ‘with a Mexican twist’ would deliver.
Set on the main strip of Staunton Street, Bocadito certainly makes a striking first impression with its ornate Gaudi-inspired entrance. After you walk through this giant, sculpted mouth and through the dark curtains, you enter a bodega-like cave. The walls are covered in mosaic tiles and the dimly lit space does make you feel like you’ve stepped off the Soho streets and into a different place entirely.
To start with we ordered a cocktail each, and I have to say I was very happy with mine! The Lemon Daiquiri was delightfully refreshing on such a hot day and had the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. It was light, cool and just lip-smackingly good after trailing through Soho in 30 degree heat.
The Mango Margarita was equally as good – it packed a punch with a strong hit of alcohol but was off-set by the delicious fresh mangoes.
I was intrigued to see what Mexican-inspired Spanish tapas would be, and we started off with a couple of sharing dishes.
The Gambas al ajillo ($130), or Prawns with Lemon Butter and Garlic, were sprinkled with thyme and were juicy and tender… you can’t really go wrong with these simple, clean flavours.
The Jalapeños Rellenos (six pieces, $165) were not as spicy as I expected and were perfectly charred with meaty morsels inside. This was definitely an unusual tapas dish and verged more on the Mexican side, but I enjoyed the slight crunch of the jalapeños that were stuffed with pork and wrapped in bacon – these little peppers would be great washed down with a cold beer.
I’m a big fan of chorizo and I have to say that I was impressed with Bocadito’s version of this Spanish sausage. The Chorizo a la sidra ($98) was well cooked and oh-so tender – perhaps because of the cider it was cooked. The rich dish had a slight heat and the slices of sausage melted in our mouths, oozing with that distinctive chorizo flavour.
Up next was the Ceviche con jícama y mango ($78) – sole marinated in lime, red onions, jicama, mango and a hint of chilli. The pretty pot was packed with colourful ingredients and was bursting with zesty, citrus flavour. The chunks of fish were slightly tart from the generous amount of lime juice, but offset by the heat of the chilli and the freshness of mango and guac’.
Moving on we sampled the Mejilla de res con salsa de vinto tinto ($148) – beef cheek with red wine reduction. Unfortunately this dish arrived pretty late and was actually quite cold by the time we got to eat it, but it was beautifully presented and had a sweet, rich flavour. The addition of the fennel added a good crunch and contrast in texture, but the meat itself didn’t have that same ‘melt in the mouth’ moment as the chorizo, which was disappointing.
We couldn’t leave without trying the desserts, and the Crema Catalana ($65) was the first to come out the kitchen. The small portion was actually the perfect size after our numerous rounds of tapas dishes and the custard was wonderfully light.
Although my dining partner and I both enjoyed the Crema Catalana, it was definitely overshadowed by the Chocolate con churros ($65). These fried sticks of dough smothered in sugar are the ultimate indulgence and were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Dipped in the delicious chocolate sauce, this desserts definitely brought back childhood memories… a great, playful comfort dish.
With such a central location, Bocadito has serious potential. Despite being in the centre of a wining and dining hub, the unusual decor and cave-like interior makes you feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle – perfect if you’re looking for somewhere a bit different to try with the girls or an alternative date-night spot. The cocktails that I tried were delicious and so refreshing, ideal for the hot and humid Hong Kong summer. The tapas, while not that authentically Spanish due to Mexican influences, are great for snacking on – although some of the dishes were a bit hit and miss. I would recommend the chorizo and the garlic prawns with a couple of those Lemon Daiquiris for fun, casual evening out in Soho.
Bocadito, G/F, 40 Staunton Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, 2549 2878, www.facebook.com/BocaditoHongKong