Samba soul food
La Boca offers authentic Latin American fare tailored to the Israeli palate.
Restaurant Photo: Courtesy
Chef Guy Kimchi of the Latin-fusion La Boca on Emek Refaim in Jerusalem has taken
ethnic food in the opposite direction. Kimchi studied at the Hadassah school of
hotel management in Jerusalem, and in 2003 he traveled around South America
perfecting his craft and studying the local cuisines. In Buenos Aires he liked
to frequent a popular area called La Boca, a neighborhood with a lot of color,
restaurants, artists and street musicians. “It was there that I came up with the
idea of opening a kosher Latin restaurant in Israel,” he says.
Argentina he learned about meat, the ceviche is from Peru, and so on around the
continent. Local delicacies from every Latin American country are
represented, after having been adapted to the Israeli palate. Kimchi returned to
Israel in 2004, worked in a restaurant in Jerusalem and began looking for a
place to open his own establishment.
Situated on the second floor of an
old Templer building, La Boca, which opened in 2006, seems to be largely
successful, and Kimchi, who describes himself as traditional, clearly revels in
the challenges of the kosher kitchen.
Upon entering a pleasant and
elegant room, we had the choice of seating in the main restaurant or on the
large enclosed terrace overlooking the street. We chose the terrace which,
together with the soft background music, immediately succeeded in relaxing us.
Our skilled waiter was a great help in explaining the various dishes listed on
The menu offers 18 starters, such as tapas, soup, salads,
carpaccio, enchiladas, ceviche and tortillas. There are 15 choices of
main courses, which include fish, paella, beef, fajitas, liver and lamb. And
there are six desserts, including hot churros served with parve ice cream and a
tropical fruit salad.
Stand-out dishes include entrecote steak, which is
served with grilled vegetables, and what has become La Boca's signature dish,
ceviche (marinated fish salad) made with red tuna and served on a fried corn
For starters, we sampled the beef carpaccio (NIS 49). The
carpaccio, with a balsamic sauce, was delicious, if a bit thicker than usual.
Even better was the Mexican chicken salad (NIS 53).
The portion was
generous but was quite unlike the tubs of raw vegetables that most restaurants
feel impelled to call salads. The finely chopped chicken, garnished with a
balsamic vinaigrette, covered a bed of lettuce. It was superb. The fried corn
tortilla in the salad was an added bonus.
Of the main courses, I have to
admit that we were particularly taken with the mixed parrilla for two (NIS 230).
What’s a mixed parrilla? A combination of entrecote, lamb ribs, spring chicken,
chorizo, served with salad or crispy potato – for real meat lovers. The spring
chicken was juicy, tender and, surprisingly, not very poultry-flavored. The
entrecote was a soft, smooth piece of meat and nothing for a carnivore to scoff
at. I liked the chorizo a lot. It is normally made from pork, but at La Boca it
is made from veal with lamb fat. The ribs were good, too, with a Middle
Eastern flavor seasoning the lamb.
My personal favorite was the bife de
lomo – beef fillet medallions in a sweet wine and cranberry sauce. Being
South African, I have an affection for sweet meats, and this dish certainly hit
After a large, heavy meal, neither my dining partner nor I was
particularly interested in dessert. In the end, we gave in and tried the churros
(NIS 34) – three dough cylinders seasoned and stuffed with nougat mash. My
dining partner was over the moon, as she had recently traveled to South America,
thereby giving it a thumbs up for its authentic taste
Overall, La Boca is a
great place for nearly everyone, from a couple to a large party. Not only is the
food of the highest quality, but the wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly,
and their smiles are genuine. They really seem to enjoy their work.
writer was a guest of the restaurant.
La Boca Kosher 46 Emek Refaim
Street The German Colony, Jerusalem (02) 563-5577