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A girls' night of Spanish delight

By Donna Mah in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-05 07:18

A girls' night of Spanish delight

Spanish ham and crispy bread are flown in from Spain. [Photo by Donna Mah / China Daily]

It was a girls' night out and we were at Boqueria, a Spanish restaurant named after the famous La Boqueria market in Barcelona, in Lan Kwai Fong.

For a weekday evening, the restaurant was filled with diners, and everyone looked like they were having a good time. The sangria and shots were flowing at a large table near us and we found out later that its patrons were there to celebrate a birthday. The staff, and in particular the manager Joseph Baclay and chef de cuisine David Izquierdo, were circulating around the room and making sure everything was as it should be.

This was my first visit to Boqueria, but my dining companions had been before. There were mixed reviews. However, our experience on a relaxed Wednesday evening was truly a delight. We shared all the dishes and I heartily agree with Izquierdo who said: "Food tastes better when it is shared."

We started with some thinly sliced Iberico ham (aged for 36 months) and a crispy on the outside, tender on the inside flatbread that is flown in from Spain. Though I am a big fan of the ham, the bread, in this case, was the standout attraction. We continued with some Spanish cheese before moving on to a few hot dishes including grilled asparagus with romesco sauce topped with shaved cheese, sauteed chorizo in Rioja wine reduction, and creamy croquettes (two mushroom and two Serrano ham croquettes). All were well executed and disappeared quickly from our table.

The menu lists four cheeses that are served regularly, but the restaurant also serves additional cheeses when they are available from Spain. Prices for the cheeses are very reasonable, ranging from HK$58 to $78 ($7.5-10). If you are only going to choose one cheese, try the rosemary Manchego cheese, which is made with sheep's milk and is a hard, nutty cheese with a rosemary rind.

The tapas continued to arrive at our table. We enjoyed the pimiento de piquillo rellenos de queso de cabra (piquilla peppers stuffed with goat's milk cheese) which were sweet, slightly tangy and creamy; and the gambas al ajillo (shrimp, garlic and guindilla pepper in olive oil) that were garlicky and slightly spicy and served with fresh bread. The gambas are a personal favorite and one that is almost ordered without fail when we are out enjoying a few tapas.

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