Walk down Amoy Street and you might dismiss boCHINche as just another restaurant in the CBD. But walk in far enough, past the mismatched wooden chairs, South American street art and wood-panelled cabinetry, and you’ll find the beating heart of this new kid on the block: The $40,000 charcoal grill specially flown in from Spain, sizzling merrily as it roasts beef, fish, octopus and vegetables.
The landlord at boCHINche’s former residence on Martin Road would only permit a gas grill, we’re told, so we’re doubly glad the restaurant moved in June to be together with its Spa Esprit Group sister Ding Dong. BoCHINche describes itself as cocina Argentina — Argentine cuisine — though Argentine-European might be more appropriate, with its dulce de leche crème brûlée dessert a perfect example of how it weaves Latin influences into chic Western food (more on that dish later).
Go for a seat at the open kitchen bar counter. It’s like watching an animated tableau while you eat: A team grilling, plating, slicing, frying, and raking coals, all while Head Chef Fabrice Mergalet (and Chef Patron Diego Jacquet, when he’s in town) calls out orders and directs the action. New menu items to try include the chorizo croquettes with smoked peppers and red amaranth; our egg’s mimosa with pickled mustard seeds, fresh herbs and mixed seeds; and the baby beetroot and raspberries salad — “Everyone needs to try the salad, or you won't get to try the steak,” Chef Diego says, like a kindly father.
But favourites remain favourites for a good reason. The Provoleta (Argentine provolone cheese, almonds and oregano honey) is a broiled pan of warm hugs, even though it isn’t a sliced disc of curd thrown on the grill. One can never go wrong with a thick slab of Argentine beef, done medium (‘medium rare’ here tends towards ‘rare’). And no matter how full you are — and you will be, trust us — stab a spoon into the dulce de leche crème brûlée, served with banana split ice cream. BoCHINche may not be persnickety about being all-Argentinian, but that’s totally fine by us.
#01-02, 115 Amoy Street