6 Bukit Pasoh near Outram MRT
Leveraging on being the first Portuguese restuarant in Singapore, Boca has indeed drawn quite a crowd. And if you are not sure what does a Portuguese cuisine mean, fret not as you will still be as clueless at the end of the meal. Just like how I felt when I was in Porto and Lisbon, it was an uphill task in trying to fit relevant words to best describe the nuances between these highly inter-influenced European cuisines (except for the more distinct ones like Spanish and French which happen to be my favourites!). But at least Porto made me expect big hearty servings with down-to-earth cooking techniques which could unfortunately not be rediscovered at Boca.
The starters over here were surprisingly the better choices (though not exceptionally delectable) out of the single-sided menu. Octopus salad (top) was garnished with red onions, capsicum, extra virgin oil and vinegar which makes up a zesty combination to whet the appetite. $24. Though the slices of octopus were commendable with its springy yet not overly chewy consistency, the overall taste was however slightly flat. And the mashed cod fritters stuffed with potato and onions, paired with onion-flavoured mayonnaise were lightly fried and fluffy but somehow had a combination that reminded me of Mac’s fillet-o-fish. $15.
This last starter that we got though didn’t manage to pull everything back, at least did do a little justice to the exorbitant price paid. Two pieces of fat, juicy chorizo are beautifully grilled in brandy with a fine charred fragrance which perfectly accompanied the slices of bread by the side. But at $25, I felt like taking home the grilling rack.
And there we go, the really lacklustre mains that only serves to rip your wallet apart. The codfish with potato, black olives and broccoli doesn’t need much description already when the cod was on the tougher side and its lip-smacking juices non-existent. It is actually quite hard to get a cod wrong at a good restaurant and this was quite appalling. $28. The thick slab of octopus tentacle, tantalisingly described as paprika flavoured was dull and uninspiring as their wasn’t any paprika taste. It also didn’t help when the consistency of the tentacle tasted slightly powdery. $38 for a tentacle, you judge. And notice the similar boring sides used in both mains.
And the Portuguese tarts served at $4.50 a piece managed to redeem itself slightly as a Portuguese restaurant as it starkly differs from the Macau versions that you could get easily in Singapore. Having had these intensely rich tarts with a buttery, creamy, eggy custard-y filling in the flaky crust from an old-fashioned Lisbon bakery, this is by far the closest replica I have tasted!
And at the end of the meal, we were most impressed by the egg tarts and churizo while the rest of the dishes were just non-memorable, especially so when such steep prices are billed.
And those were the happy times in Porto/Lisbon few years back when we had such hearty vibrant meals with a glass of wine each for an unbelievable 15 euros while the impressive tarts were just priced at about 1.50 euros each! Definitely understand the higher cost of living here, but the prices are just unjustified by both the quantity and quality.
Verdict: A mediocre restaurant.