La Boca

Chef and owner Guy Kimchi takes you on his culinary journey through the Latin world, celebrating the flavors and colors he encountered on his journey. Yonatan Sternberg tries out La Boca in Jerusalem.

Situated on the southern end of the upscale Emek Refaim (also known by Anglos as Eyimek) shopping promenade, La Boca offers a wide variety of Latin, South American and Central American inspired dishes.

After completing his studies at the Hadassa culinary program, chef and owner Guy Kimchi embarked on a culinary expedition exploring the cuisines and cooking techniques of Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Spain and beyond. While sitting in a traditional Argentinean grill house, Kimchi decided that upon his return to Israel, he would open a restaurant celebrating the flavors and colors he encountered on his journey.

After reviewing the menu, we decided to keep it as traditional and authentic as possible, starting off with a chilled glass of sangria (fruity Spanish wine punch), an assortment of La Boca's "house tapas" and Kimchi's version of an empanada, made using a deep fried tortilla shell filled with ground beef, black olives and a hard boiled egg. The tortilla was crispy and the meat juicy and flavorful; while very different from empanadas I have eaten in the past, I really enjoyed the dish. The mini tapas dishes offered a range of flavors, our favorites being the vegetarian tofu based stir fry and the chili con carne, served with a couple of nacho chips and deep fried green chili peppers.

Before moving on to the main courses, we also sampled La Boca's Peruvian ceviche. The fish, vegetables and fruit were all finely diced, seasoned than stacked atop crunchy tortilla chips, creating a colorful, fun and, most importantly, tasty dish.

When we received our entrees, it was clear that Kimchi strives to incorporate fun and colorful motifs in all of his dishes. The paella was very generous, made with saffron infused rice, various vegetables, chicken, beef and diced chorizo sausage. Originally from Spain (probably from the area of Valencia), paella is essentially rice and vegetable based casserole. Usually served family style, the protein added to the paella varies from region to region and can include seafood, fish, game meat, beef, and more; but don't worry all of the ingredients in La Boca's version are strictly kosher.

The second entrée arrived at our table, this time hailing from the Argentinean cuisine – Beefe de Ancho, or grilled rib-eye steak – served with grilled corn on the cob, a small side salad and sweet potato chips. The steak was cooked to perfection, displaying uniform grill marks on the outside and juicy within.

With just enough room left for dessert, we nibbled on another traditional Latin dish –deep fried churoz filled with chocolate and nougat cream. Another sip of my double espresso and it was time to call it a night. Overall, La Boca offers an interesting and varied menu; the portions are generous and the service is professional yet friendly. La Boca also offers business lunch specials and hosts private events in the restaurant's enclosed or open patios. Enjoy!