The last (and only) time that I had visited Portugal was 14 years ago, in 2002. I honestly do not recall much about the food, but I do remember a very interesting dining experience featuring Portugal’s most famous music genre, fado.
Typically sung about the trials and tribulations of life, the music is sombre, morose and you wonder, why is this such a popular accompaniment to a meal in Portugal?
Or maybe it’s just a very touristy must-have experience.
Well, either way, it’s nice that Boca didn’t incorporate this depressive, moody spirit into its setting.
Instead, cheery teal blues and a flock of birds greet you at this Portuguese restaurant, located at one of my favourite dining streets, Bukit Pasoh Road.
Greeting you handsomely, (and I mean, handsome-ly) are the two Portuguese chefs too, who provide sizzling action thanks to the open kitchen at Boca.
So, the Spaniards have their tapas, the Portuguese have petiscos. Well, it isn’t quite reflected as petiscos in the menu, but the concept is the same. A couple of dishes to enjoy a couple of drinks with before your main. If you have room for mains, that is.
With such a good selection of small plates ranging from the ubiquitous bacalhau (salted and dried cod fish) based dishes, to seafood favourites like octopus, clams and prawns, you might just want to focus on the starters, and perhaps just order a main to share.
I don’t know if the universe was throwing me hints as to what to order, but the days leading up to my dinner at Boca, I kept stumbling across articles and shows about the famous Clams “Bolhão Plato” ($20).
So of course, I had to try it at Boca. Well, suffice to say, it was a classic clams in white wine dish, delicious mopped up with the garlic bread served to us. I couldn’t tell the difference between this and the Italian vongole (probably the usage of coriander versus Italian flat-leaf parsley is the only differential factor) or what I myself could make at home, but at least, a competently prepared dish, so no complaints here.
Next up, another classic – Cod Fritters ($15). The good part of this dish is definitely the fact that it is chockful of cured codfish, not just plumped up with potatoes. The fritters didn’t look very crispy judging by the paler than usual colour, and biting into them, they could indeed have spent just a tad bit more time in the fryer.
I always look forward to ordering Octopus ($24) at “Mediterranean” restaurants and no regrets ordering it here at Boca. Perfectly grilled octopus, swimming in a sea of garlicky tomatoes – the tentacles were tender and not chewy at all.
By now we were halfway through our bottle of wine and rather full. Speaking of wines, Boca stocks up a huge range of Portuguese wines and the owner was more than happy to give us a quick lesson on the labels we saw.
I am not familiar with Portuguese wine and normally, Port comes to mind when I think of my drinking sessions in Portugal. So I was very happy to get an understanding, albeit a small one, of Portuguese wines.
By the way, we went ahead to get a bottle instead of by the glass, as it was more “worth it”. Glasses were around $18 and our bottle was at $87.
This was a lovely, full-bodied wine that went well with both starters and our final dish – the Coffee Steak ($48).
A good-sized hunk of tenderloin arrives, covered in a sauce that is perfumed with the aroma of coffee and subtly enhanced with a dash of cognac. Coffee, cognac and cream – a new holy trinity for steak, perhaps?
I do think that the sauce could have been reduced further, as you can see from the picture, it was running thin and visually, it would have been more pleasing to see a “richer” looking sauce. Similarly, it would have been even more enjoyable to dip chunks of the tender beef into a creamier sauce.
We simply didn’t have room for dessert, so couldn’t try their famed Portuguese egg tarts. Apparently, they make only 20-30 pieces a day, so you’re encouraged to reserve the tarts when you make your bookings.
In short, Boca does give a nice overview of Portuguese cuisine so if you’d like to get a taste of Portugal and kick back with some beautiful Portuguese wines, you can give Boca a try.
Address: 6 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089820
Contact: 62210132 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunch: 12-2.30pm (Daily)
Dinner: 6pm-12mn (Daily)