In spite of its name, Emek Refaim Street, which might be translated into "the valley of the dead", is a rather lively area. When, at the end of the 19th century, the German Templers built neighborhoods and colonies in the country, one of these was Jerusalem's German Colony, whose main road is today Emek Refaim Street. The German Templers wooden houses were preserved to this day, with their European wooden shutters and red tile roofs.
In one of these houses resides La Boca, where we had dinner last week - a South American-Latin chef restaurant. As opposed to the rest of the eateries on the street, la Boca is located on the building's second floor, hidden from the hectic street. It includes 3 different spaces: main area, patio and an open porch that views the street. La Boca's furniture is made of 2 leather and wood, which provide the place with earnestness. The background music is also playing at the right volume.
We arrived early Monday night, and were surprised to see how quick the restaurant was filling up. Chef Guy Kimhee, 11th generation in Jerusalem, comes from a family of rich Spaniard culinary tradition, and was exposed to the Latin cuisine when he was traveling through South America. In spite of the busy night, he guided us through the menu while sharing his passion for meat and explaining about the need to adjust it to the local palate. We were not the only ones receiving devoted service, the tables around us seemed to be enjoying their meals too.
Out of 4 generous dishes, 2 were exceptionally good: La Bocca Tortilla – filled with colorful peppers and hard-boiled egg, which was a gentle starter; Pate was served on a bruschetta with tomato chutney and lemony green salad. In spite of the kosher limitations, Chef Kimhee has managed to create a soft texture that together with the flavors around it, it was quite a celebration.
Our main courses were Beefa Ancho and Rump steak, which were served at the right moment. I could feel the quality of the portions and the loving hands that prepared them. Once I checked the meat, I turned to what usually makes for an Achilles' heel at kosher restaurants – the mashed potatoes. I was so happy to discover it was made of high quality olive oil.
La Boca's dishes are served with accordance to the Latin tradition of colors and joy. So was the dessert: chocolate mousse with coconut ice cream and hot Churos on the side. The Chucos come from Spain, and are made of fried mixture served hot with any kind of sweet sauce. I would pass on the chocolate mousse, but eat more of the Churos. They were served untraditionally, cut into small, precise pieces, which were a delightful closer to a beautiful meal.