I crave an acid to brighten things, which was probably available as a condiment somewhere, though I don't recall seeing it at the bar — no surprise since the lighting is so dim. Skip the $14 udon and $15 pho and order a bowl of ramen, but be sure to ask for the vinegars, fish or chili sauces that should be standard in any noodle house.

The steamed buns are less engaging, an open tongue of sticky bread, layered with pork belly, pickled cucumbers, and mustard hoisin. Though the guts are intriguing — who doesn't like pork belly? — it's the bread that's too evocative of fast food, half-baked and lifeless. Still, if you're a sandwich fiend, Kapow! offers a handful of these inexpensive steamed buns stuffed with mushrooms, crispy duck confit, or bay scallop terrine.

If you like sake even just a little, depart from the cocktails for a sake adventure, a curated rice wine selection assembled by Villacrusis. An opaque, unfiltered sake that smells like tapioca is a pleasingly sweet sip to cap a meal that has taken me far from South Florida, a varietal I would not have known to order had Cornally not suggested it.

As delightful as this first foray into chef-driven concepts may be, the question remains: Will Kapow! Noodle Bar survive? With a winning chef, a progressive concept capitalizing on a nationwide trend, a team of known restaurateurs, and the financial backing of its sibling restaurants, it should. Yet I would not be surprised if partners go the way of Banana Republic, by introducing Asian-inspired flatbreads or soy-garnished sliders. Here's hoping Villacrusis can lead our palates on an adventure rather than resigning to the common denominator.

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21 comments
Eric Haley
Eric Haley

Kapow! is a great restaurant. We went there last night. Service, food, and atmosphere was excellent. 

Jimmy
Jimmy

Perhaps this "chef-driven" nonsense is just being fabricated by someone who wishes she was working someplace where there were chefs worthy of mention?

Melissamccart
Melissamccart

We can talk about it if you want. I actually think Villacrusis one of the most interesting chefs in the area, but that's also because I'm interested in Japanese cuisine, especially from a guy who's self trained by going to visit a couple times a year. The exec chef of CityZen in DC, who was the sous for the opening of The French Laundry, did the same thing. He's French/Keller trained, and is learning Japanese through visits. He has also recruited some chefs on his line from there. It's really facinating to me.

 I miss my friends and industry people from up north, but there are too many stories down here for me to wish I were working somewhere else. So few people are reporting on really interesting things (I haven't even started with long form) where in bigger more self-congratulatory cities, it's a horse race to secure ideas, access, and story angles.

Lad
Lad

I agree floridians would not know good food if it knocked them on the head. I'm from NYC and travel quite a bit. Ppl should expand their horizons, get past the menu and try the food blind. They'll all be pleasantly surprised.

Melissamccart
Melissamccart

Lad, where do you like to eat when you're in town?

Sundaisy89
Sundaisy89

Kapow Noodle Bar is a pleasant upgrade from the overworked Burger Joints, Pizza Shacks and Gourmet Taco Stands littering the streets of Boca Raton.  The food is creative, fresh and tasty.  The drinks are good and good and strong.  The bar staff have swagger.  Noodle dishes with great flavor yes - comparable to Ramen Noodles, not even close.  Small Plates with attitude - yes, patrons with attitude need not visit this great spot!

Cocopuffs
Cocopuffs

Of course hes upset. Hes the only who cares about his complex recipes and unique textures. A bunch of budweiser swilling college students dont know or care what food taste like. Americans dont eat food. They eat condiments while searching for a meat to dump it on. Then they plop In front of tv and was everything down with soda. Most ppl i talked to thought Kapow was a chinese restaurant with a funny name. The fact is the chef is awesome the food is great and the owners are the best but its over the heads of most floridians

 
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