Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Soca Kitchen & Pub, a Latin American restaurant, is the newest addition to Ottawa's food scene. It is located two doors from Allium on Holland St. Chef and owner Daniela Manrique is born in Venezuela, raised in Montreal, and culinary trained in Miami, Florida. The menu consists primarily of Venezuelan food with few items from other parts of Latin America. Every item is great for sharing. We went to try out their brunch, just say it's not your typical egg-bacon-sausage fare. 

Tortilla Espanola
Spanish Tortilla with Roasted Garlic Aioli
When I think of Venezuelan cuisine, I think of papelón con limón - raw sugar cane juice mixed with lime juice, then diluted with water. At the start of the meal, we were offered a similar version in the form of a shot called the Soca juice. Instead of raw sugar, it uses sugar cane juice extracted from their juicer. It's light and refreshing, it's perfect for a palate cleanser.

We opted for their Spanish tortilla - a frittata consisting of stacks of thinly sliced potatoes. It comes with two thick slabs and a garlic aioli. To our surprise, we never had a Spanish tortilla this light. It shows no resistance when cutting with a fork; the texture is similar to softened butter. The provided garlic aioli is light and airy. It is packed with punches of flavours, the same punches of garlic flavour when you eat roasted potatoes with garlic sauce at Shawarma Palace.

chicken avocado arepas with yuca fries - venezuelan cuisine
Chicken Arepas with Avocado Purée and Yuca Fries
Now we move onto the heavier dishes. Venezuela is famous for their arepas - corn-based flatbread stuffed with a variety of ingredients (read my post on Arépéra du Plateau). Their version is stuffed with thick chunks of chicken and a spicy avocado purée. Their simple chicken is cooked sous-vide making it super moist and succulent without any faint trace of dryness. The flatbread is soft and crumbly inside, lightly crisp outside. The order comes with a side of deep-fried yuca fries. Unlike french fries, the interiour is soft, somewhat of a creamy texture, and the outside is crispy. It is served with a light and fresh homemade ketchup. 

cuban sandwich with yuca fries - latin food
Cuban Sandwich with Emmental, Roasted Pork and Country Ham, with Yuca Fries
Who does not crave for a Cuban sandwich after watching the movie Chef? Luckily, you can get your Cuban sandwich fix here for lunch. The sandwich is pressed to the perfect thickness that gives this thin, hot and crispiness on the bread, and an oozing melted emmental cheese to bind the succulent slices of roasted pork and country ham. The mustard and pickles give an extra dimension of flavours. Simple food, simply delicious. The order also comes with yuca fries. I feel the fries should be served with condiments that reflect Latin American cuisine like an aji amarillo aioli, an avocado dip, a Huancaína sauce, or a simple wedge of lime.

Overall, Soca Kitchen & Pub is a breeze of fresh air for Ottawa's food scene. Chef Daniela Manrique demonstrates great cooking techniques that are well represented in her food. Her talent will surely attract a crowd of foodies who are venturing for something new and unique. As for the prices, the mains are reasonably priced. But some of the appetizers and desserts, even though it sounded delicious, we felt they were over-valued. As a result, we were hesitant to order them, running into the possibility that we might be disappointed...

Soca Kitchen & Pub
93 Holland Avenue
Ottawa, ON
The Soca Kitchen & Pub on Urbanspoon


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