Authentic Spanish Finesse: Ignasi Prats of Bocado

Bocado in Damansara Heights is easily one of the most authentic Spanish restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, which is currently headed by ex-El Celler de Can Roca and Barcelona-born Ignasi Prats. We speak to the chef to find out more about the cuisine served, and to get to know his approach and philosophy when it comes to his cuisine.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I grew up as a third generation baker of my family, where we also had a pastry business. I remember running around the pastry working spaces at an early age and watching my father, as well as helping out while learning our family’s baking techniques. 

After 10 years of experience as a pastry chef, I had the opportunity to work in fine dining and molecular cuisine under Chef Jose, who was the former head chef of three Michelin star restaurant, El Bulli. However, after three years of learning with him and challenging myself, I was ready for a new experience. That was when Chef Jose personally recommended me for a position at El Celler de Can Roca, a three Michelin star restaurant. During that time, the restaurant was awarded as the World’s Best Restaurant in 2015.  

From there, I was ready to fulfil my dream of working in Asia and exploring new ingredients. In 2016, I worked in three western and Japanese-style restaurants in Macau. Following that, I went to Beijing where I was part of the opening team for a Spanish tapas restaurant in a luxury and high-end boutique hotel. I was also the Executive Chef at the Spanish tapas restaurant, as well as oversaw the rooftop bar and cafe bakery.

I later moved to Bali where I carried out consultancy work for a new five-star hotel project before coming to Bocado in Kuala Lumpur.

Tell us a bit about Bocado.

Bocado means “bite” in Spanish. Its interior design is inspired by a Mediterranean-Santorini style, while the food concept is an upscale casual tapas and steak house with an all-day dining experience. 

What is your philosophy when it comes to your cuisine?

Throughout my experience – either in pastry, baking, or cooking – I have learnt that using the best quality ingredients, being passionate about your job, having attention-to-detail, and constantly learning or nurturing your skills, is important. 

My philosophy, which was inspired from previous chefs and mentors I have worked with, is to always love what you do, stay humble, never stop learning, keep improving, and continue to challenge yourself.

How often do you change your menus and how much do they differ?

So far, in the first six months at Bocado, we have come up with three menus. We always listen to our customers in terms of their favourite dishes, or for feedback on certain dishes that might not be on the menu yet. We also always update our seasonal Spanish dishes as we depend on the import of some special products.

Tell us something unique about Spanish cuisine that many might not know.

The meaning of “paella” originates from a pan which is big and flat. Paella comes from Alicante, which is a neighbouring province south of Valencia. The first paellas were made in the mainland, using meats such as rabbit, lamb, pork or chicken, as well as veggies and escargots.

 Traditionally, it was known as a cheap dish that people cooked with low-cost ingredients during the time after the civil war – its origin was also found to have influence on the Baroque era. During the mid-19th century, the Paella Valenciana, which was at the coastline of Spain, gained more popularity while using fresh seafood for a more premium dish.

What are the main regional cuisines in Spain?

Regional cuisines depend on the region and there are many of them. Each one of them is good, especially in Spain. They have very good quality regional, fresh products.  

Personally, as a Spanish citizen from Barcelona, I love my hometown cuisine more. Catalonia-influenced cuisine is very rich and has some similarities with the south of France as we share country borders. We have a very complete variety of products and ingredients including top quality seafood, beef, lamb, fruits, vegetables, local wine, and many others.

My other favourite cuisine is from the Basque country in the north of Spain, where their cuisine uses fresh ingredients from their region, while also being based on the best quality products. They also take great care of the food ingredients, cooking process, and cooking methods.

Tell us something about Bocado that people might not know.

Behind the scenes at Bocado kitchen, is an amazing team that I have the pleasure to work with. They love cooking and have a passion for Spanish food. They work hard to deliver the most unique tapas, while maintaining the traditional flavours, and cooking methods. They also ensure customers experience a proper dining experience that gives off the same vibes that would be experienced if they travelled to Spain.

What are three of your signature dishes and what makes them so special?

Paella (Spanish seafood rice): Internationally, it is probably the most famous dish from Spain. We use a very concentrated seafood stock that is 100% natural with fresh ingredients for a strong seafood flavour. The dish is then topped with tiger prawns and Japanese hotate scallops.

Paletilla (Lamb shoulder): Using the same cooking method of the most famous and three Michelin star suckling pig, we slow-cook and sous vide it for 16 hours with herbs. This gives the meat a very tender texture, where it falls off the bones before being finished in the Josper Grill to crisp the skin.

Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus): The dish uses imported octopus from Galicia, north west of Spain from the Atlantic ocean, and is a popular dish from this region. At Bocado, we offer this traditional dish by giving it a twist of grilled octopus sliced on a pillow of chiffon olive oil confit potatoes (traditionally sliced confit potatoes) sprinkled with a dust of Spanish paprika and alioli.

Bocado doesn’t serve pork. What does it take to create authentic Spanish dishes without that often used ingredient?

It is challenging because Spanish cuisine is known to have pork as one of the main sources of ingredients on many occasions. However, our cuisine is very rich in variety and we have plenty of other options to use other than pork.

Ground Floor,
Bangunan ECM Libra,
8, Jalan Damansara Endah,
Bukit Damansara,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
+6012 923 3206
Opening Hours:
Daily, 12.00 pm to 12.00 am


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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