Review: The Boodle Fight Experience at Rapsa in Shoreditch
Have you ever heard of a Boodle Fight? Neither had we – until we were invited to try it out for ourselves thanks to Rapsa at 100 Hoxton. A Boodle Fight is a traditional Filipino celebratory feast. Presented on banana leaves the fight is, in fact with your own appetite (and not each other as we first thought). This is more than a feast for your eyes and belly…this is an entire cultural dining experience.
Rapsa has recently replaced former Shoreditch eatery 100 Hoxton. With Chef Francis Puyat at the helm the kitchen now offers a range of delicious menus inspired by his home in the Philippines. Open daily from 11am for brunch, lunch and dinner Rapsa offers a wide range of modern Filipino inspired dishes with a blend of Mediterranean influences thanks to Francis’s former residency in Ottolenghi’s Nopi restaurants.
Rapsa is located in the heart of Shoreditch on Hoxton Street. The venue is smart but minimal creating a cool market ambiance. Brick walls are accompanied by concrete floors – whilst seating areas are luxurious and refined, resulting in a sleek blend of street and chic.
We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes on our arrival. Our host, Jess was clearly expecting us and had a table prepared with menus laid out. Both Jess and Chef Francis explained the concept of the Boodle fight explaining details of the history of the dish and main ingredients. We were looked after really well throughout the evening with staff making us feel at ease and welcome from start to finish.
The Boodle Fight
The concept of a Boodle fight stems from a time when soldiers would dine on long tables whilst celebrating military success in the Filipino jungle. Food would be presented on a table of banana leaves adorned with a selection of meat and fish dishes as well as generous mounds of rice. Traditionally there would also be large jugs of water along the table to wash hands as diners prepare for ‘eating combat’!
Boodle fights are now used as an excuse for family get togethers or special occasions. Rapsa host Boodle fights every Sunday as a quirky alternative to a typical Sunday roast.
When the dish first comes out it really is a feast for the eyes. The bright colours of the chillis, lemon and beetroot stand out beautifully against the green banana leaves and an array of fish, meat and rice. Our Boodle was delivered by the Chef who was happy to explain each part of the meal really carefully including which sauces work best with which dish.
So what did it all actually taste like? We start with the Kilawin which is essentially Asian style ceviche. The Kilawin consists of delicate pieces of sea bream served with mango, jalapeño, red pepper and coconut. Deliciously refreshing and light with a seriously spicy kick.
Next we try the burnt eggplant salad which comes with coconut, hazelnut, tomato, apple and beetroot. This dish is particularly pleasing to the eye with crisp, fresh flavours soothing the spice of the Kinilaw. We also really enjoyed the Pinakbet – tiger prawns, crispy pork, and Asian veg and the hearty oxtail Kare Kare croquetas with peanut and shrimp sauce.
The highlight of the dish for me was the serving of grilled sea bass beautifully presented in banana leaves containing pineapple, coconut and lime. A deliciously light fish dish with delicate tropical flavours epitomising the roots of this meal as a real blend of Asian exotic flavours from both land and sea.
Despite the Boodle platter being more than enough for the two of us we decided we couldn’t miss the chance to sample the dessert options. Our dessert consisted of three sweet dishes to share: Biko sticky rice pudding – like rice pudding flavoured brownie covered in ice cream; Maja Blancha – a sweet coconut dish with popcorn and berries; Mango float – similar to a coconut cheesecake with striking purple ice cream.
Taking part in a Boodle fight was more than a typical meal out. We learnt about the history of the dish, tried (and liked!) foods that we would never usually order and felt so welcomed by the restaurant and staff we left feeling more like friends than customers. The food and service was outstanding. Yes, it’s different but that’s the appeal. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will be seeking out similar dining options in the future. Grab those banana leaves, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!
If you’d like to find out more about Rapsa or booking a Boodle Fight you can do so here. With thanks to Rapsa for inviting us to try out the Boodle Fight for the purpose of this review.