The Rio Olympics may be over, but a corner of Nolita in Manhattan is just beginning to celebrate one of Brazil’s indigenous treats. Oca, a newly opened ‘tapiocaria’, is dishing up a bevy of crepe-like creations, made using tapioca flour. A popular snack sold street side in Brazil, these gluten-free pancakes are getting a big city spin at Oca’s tropically-infused space in New York.
Considered an alternative to bread in Brazil, these tapioca discs are paper-thin like crepes, but boast the crunch of a taco. At Oca, they contain a range of healthy fillings, from scrambled eggs, chopped tomatoes, mozzarella and truffle oil, to wild salmon, cashew nut cream, wasabi, pumpkin seeds and diced avocado.
Established by four friends from Rio de Janeiro who were inspired to create a healthy, quick bite that conveyed a sense of Brazil, Oca (which means ‘house’ in Portuguese) uses fresh organic ingredients from local purveyors to complement the tapioca base. Each crepe is made by mixing house-made tapioca flour with purified water and cooked to order. There are also parmesan-crusted tapioca bites (served with red-pepper-infused raw honey), and several fruit-focused cashew nut milkshakes.
The Brazilian experience is made complete with an assortment of paint-splattered stools, wooden benches, vibrantly printed cushions and plenty of hanging plants. For diners with an interest in the more unusual corners of the street-food world, it's an irresistibly pretty package that will have people coming back for more.