British writer Eli Khamarov, sums it up succinctly: “The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.”
Hence imagine my jubilation when I stumbled across Va Boca. In the craziness that is Salmiya, tucked within one of the offshoot streets of the infamous Shaara Mathaam or “Restaurant Street,” lies this gem of a restaurant.
Established over a year ago, Va Boca Restaurant’s food concept centers around Macedonian/Balkan cuisine. It is also one of the few restaurants in K-town offering a supplement “fitness menu.”
Yup, a 2-in-1 special folks.
You have the option of taking your palate through an exotic epicurean journey which features an array of fantastic dishes such as Macedonian kebabs, Balkan burgers and even most notably, Tavce gravce, which is a white bean dish baked in traditional earthenware and also happens to be the national dish of Macedonia.
Or if you’re new to the whole eating healthy concept, Va Boca is a great eatery to start experimenting, as the meals offered in their fitness menu selection are stupendously delish and very different from the usual fit foods found here.
This foodie journalist isn’t surprised at this revelation though, as owner Omar Al Mulla and his business partner Valentina Trpkovska, go to great lengths to ensure the food standards of both menus are of high quality.
Perusing the fitness menu, one has the option of 35 dishes to choose from. There’s a myriad of appetizers, side dishes, salads, pastas, burgers, sandwiches and main courses.
My personal favorites were:
The Fitness Rosemary Steak
Imagine 200g of marinated lean beef steak cooked to your liking, served with a baked potato. You have the option of swapping this potato out with roasted sweet potato fries, roasted pumpkin fries or grilled veggies.
The Fitness Chicken Roll “Uvijach”
This dish was utterly divine, especially as a post-workout meal, to help you with weight loss. It features 2 great, sizeable pieces of chicken breast stuffed with a choice of low fat cheese or dates (I opted for the dates as it was post-workout and I needed the sugar boost!), rolled with lean turkey bacon and served with grilled veggies or roasted sweet potato fries (I opted for grilled veggies and an additional serving of roasted pumpkin fries).
The Valentina Burger
Named after Omar’s business partner, the staff kindly informed me that this is their most frequently ordered burger. It’s a definite no-brainer as you get a nice, robust, lean meat beef patty grilled to your liking and served on a high fiber brown bun along with grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, low fat cheese, romaine lettuce, served with a side of sweet potato fries and a special spicy guacamole sauce.
Moreover, the fitness menu here has oodles of creativity, showcasing Omar’s playfulness and his Kuwaiti-heritage with such dishes as the Fitness “Taouk Wrap,” the Hammour Amoor Fitness and the Chicken Machboos Quinoa.
If you think eating healthy also means skipping dessert, then you’re in for a sweet treat. One of my favorite healthy desserts here at Va Boca is the protein truffles. Available in 5 different varieties, these truffles are a must-try. Made from quality ingredients; such as Dymatize’s Iso-100 protein powder (a whey isolate protein powder which has been filtered twice and as such, has on average 25g protein, 2g carbs and 0.5g fat), L-Carnitine powder (L-carnitine is an amino acid which helps the body metabolize food into energy), dried fruit and nut butters, you can actually choose your protein truffles to suit your fitness goals. So if your aim is to burn fat, I would suggest trying the truffle which has the L-Carnitine in them.
Conquering your fit food fears at Va Boca is a much easier feat than Caesar in his war against Pharnaces II of Pontus. Aside from the variety of dishes and the helpful staff members, I loved the casual and comforting ambiance of the eatery. Unlike the chaos of having to wait for your food in the car like one would on Restaurant Street, Va Boca has a generous serving of tables and comfy booths to relax and chill out in while comfortably enjoying your healthy grub.
Bonus tip: Research has shown that eating slowly and in a relaxed state, helps lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol when elevated repeatedly can lead to weight gain, storing triglycerides into your visceral fat cells #justsaying.
Va Boca Restaurant is located in Salmiya behind Platinum Gym Club. Follow them on Instagram @vaboca. Contact them on 2573 1448, 2573 1442. Operating hours 9am-12midnight 7 days a week, and also available on Talabat.com.
Reshmi Revi is the Deputy General Manager for MultiWorks Personal Training. She is also an IFBB Bikini Competitor and an avid foodie! Follow her on Instagram @Q8MissFit.