Front row seats at the kitchen bar counter is what you want when dining at casual yet chic Argentinian restaurant BoCHINche. There’s nothing more exciting than watching head chef Fabrice and his team work like a well-oiled machine in a pristinely immaculate kitchen, especially when they are manning the flaming charcoal grill on which they cook their absolutely gorgeous grass-fed imported Argentinian beef. The service from manager Alvin and his team is attentive and friendly without being overbearing as well and all your needs will be swiftly and discreetly met.
Get the night going with a selection of beautifully balanced cocktails. My Pear Pisco Sour ($22) went down quite smoothly, with the angostura spiked foamy egg white head giving way to a cool rush of fruity, lemony flavours. A most refreshing prelude prior to the arrival of our starters.
Everything at BoCHINche is house-made – from their bread down to the pastry used for their mouth-watering Beef Empanadas ($15/2 pieces). Hand-cut Argentinian ribeye, potato, olives, grilled peppers, and a pinch of cumin and paprika are sealed in a dough shell then deep-fried to crisp, flaky perfection. Cut it apart to unleash the oozy filling and a whiff of savoury-smelling steam for that gratifying foodporn shot, or just tear into it with abandon using your hands, decorum be damned. Ice-cold beer mandatory.
Take your first bite, and you’ll marvel at how light and creamy these innocuous looking Croquetas ($17) are. Instead of the stodgy balls of potato you’d commonly expect, BoCHINche’s uses only bechamel streaked through with the smokiness of chorizo. Please give me 10.
Having been a fan of BoCHINche since it’s initial incarnation at Martin Road, I was looking forward to revisiting easily one of their most popular and iconic dishes, as well as a personal favourite of mine. The pièce de résistance, the big cheese – the Provoleta ($18). A gooey, stretchy, bubbly mass of provolone baked in a cast iron pan, smothered in oregano infused honey and almonds. Eat it fast before it cools and hardens. 😍
Sometimes the simplest things can elicit great pleasure. BoCHINche’s Neustro Pan ($10) bread basket is filled with a variety of house-made breads such as foccaccia, polenta, mozarella parmesan and even gluten-free bread made from tapioca flour, all of them fluffy, all of them good. Slather on their tangy tomato relish or the subtly meaty house-made bone marrow butter onto each piece for a perfect bite.
Our enduring fascination with meat and fire is a primordial instinct, hearkening back to an age lost in the mists of time when cavemen eked out short, brutal lives. The discovery and revelation of the promethean flame then must have seemed godsent to such primitives, and a part of that base, reptilian consciousness still resides deep within the recesses of our minds, as evidenced when we eagerly crowded around the oven for a behind the scenes look at head chef Fabrice plunging a 300 gram hunk of meat straight into smoldering coals and fire. What a brilliant way of cooking meat as it imparts a gorgeous smoky, crusty finish to the beef, which miraculously still somehow came out a perfect medium-rare(it was a medium by the time we were done taking photos), a testament to chef Fabrice’s skills. Apparently this method of cooking steak is fairly common and popular abroad, but this is the first I’ve seen of it in Singapore.
Aptly dubbed the “dirty” steak, not least of all because I felt slightly dirty gorging myself on so much dead animal, the Bife Se Chorizo A la Brasa ($65) sirloin was surprisingly tender for a lean cut and full of flavour imparted by its cooking method, so much so that I probably preferred it to the pricier ribeye we had later. Pair it with a full-bodied red and a bowl of Handcut Provencal Chips ($10) – steamed, confit and deep-fried with the end result being some of the best thick-cut fries you’ll ever have – and you’ll be set for the night.
Aged in-house for 28 days, the Ojo de Bife ($70) ribeye is head chef Fabrice’s favourite, and no wonder – biting into each well-marbled piece unleashes a torrent of meat juices and full-on lush fattiness that’ll make you weak in the knees. Once you’ve wiped the plate clean, don’t neglect the bone either because there’s still plenty of flavour to be had there.
Never say no to Ceviche ($26) if it’s this good – firm chunks of sea bass infused and “cooked” in a “leche de tigre” made from a crisp and tart marinade of lime juice, vegetables and chilli. The addition of pickled radishes, red onion and avocado puree add crunch and creaminess respectively, smartly enhancing the flavour balance and textures of the dish. Makes for an excellent starter or palate cleanser just before dessert.
I first had the Dulce De Leche ($19) for dessert during lunch earlier this year, and it’s just as good this time round. Nothing beats the sound of your spoon cracking through the brittle glass of brûléed demarara sugar before sinking into wobbly vanilla custard. The scoop of banana split ice cream is strange at first yet makes perfect sense once you try it with the crème brûlée.
Death by chocolate mousse would be a more appropriate name than simply “Chocolate” ($18). The refreshingly sweet and tangy blood orange sorbet provides scant relief from the thick and creamy flood of intensely rich chocolate with scattered caramelised pistachio crumble bobbing on its surface. Those who persevere and dig deeper however, will be justly rewarded with a light and airy sponge cake buried just below the surface.
Great food, service, a sophisticated yet eclectic decor and a buzzing atmosphere make BoCHINche an ideal place for date night, and let’s also not forget that their affordable prix fixe 2 and 3 course set lunch menus are especially popular with the office crowd. I’ll certainly be back for more.
115 Amoy Street
Mon-Thu: 12.00pm – 2.30pm(Lunch) / 6.00pm–10.30pm(Dinner)
Fri-Sat: 12.00pm – 2.30pm(Lunch) / 6.00pm–11.00pm(Dinner)
*** This was a hosted tasting. ***