This just in: Roy Villacrusis, the man behind the innovative small-plates menu at the new Palm Beach Gardens hot spot Dirty Martini
and the owner of North Palm Beach's Kubo
, has been named executive chef for Kapow! Noodle Bar
in Boca Raton.
Villacrusis' brand of "Asiatic Cuisine" forms the basis for the inspirational new menu to be featured at Kapow!, and Clean Plate Charlie took a few moments to find out what makes this up-and-coming South Florida chef tick.
Here's what he had to say:
Clean Plate Charlie:You've been in South Florida for nearly 20 years serving up some of the best Asian-inspired cuisine around. You've also worked under famed South Florida restaurateur Mark Militello. And you've even opened your own restaurant. How did you get involved with Kapow!?
Roy Villacrusis: I met [Kapow co-owner] Scott Frielich at an event earlier this year through [Delray Beach] Dada's chef, Bruce. He asked me about chefs for Kapow! At the time, I wasn't sure about what to do with Kubo's location, so not much was discussed.
Will you still be working operating Kubo?
No, I've decided to give Kapow! my full attention.
What do you like most about the concept owners Frielich, Rodney Mayo, and Vaughan Lazar [owner and co-founder of Pizza Fusion] are creating?
The concept of Kapow! is very close to Kubo, and that excites me. Having the talents of Rodney Mayo, Scott, and Vaughan is a big plus. I'd like to believe my interest in Kapow! represents that same creativity I try to show in everything I do. The spirit of Kubo will shine on Kapow!'s menu, and it will definitely showcase Asiatic cuisine at its finest.
Noodle bars have been well-received in cities like Manhattan and Miami. Why do you think this concept will work in Boca?
I've always believed in the people of this area. I think we need to start opening amazing places with thoughtful menus and concepts for the people of this area to appreciate. We can do as good a job -- if not better -- as any big foodie city. I think more people are ready and willing.
What experience have you had with noodle bars?
I love the Vietnamese places in Vegas where we went for big bowls of pho. I had ippudo in Japan and a wide variety of it while visiting Singapore. I also saw a movie called Udon a while ago and have been fascinated by it ever since. I plan to introduce Filipino noodle varieties as the Kapow! menu progresses.
How do you plan to make Kapow! different?
With sincerity and being real. I plan to train my staff with the information and knowledge on what we do and why we do it. I don't want us to be just another place. I want us to be the place. And, of course, we will work hard on making sure the flavors are to be remembered and hopefully loved.
If Kubo is "Asiatic cuisine" then Kapow! will be...
Asiatic cuisine is me. So, essentially, Kapow! will be a lot of Asiatic cuisine influence too. I'm bringing that mentality and flavor with me as much as possible.
There was a sort of Iron Chef cook-off between chefs being considered for the position. Can you share with me what you chose to prepare?
We were asked to make three dishes. There was a bao bun and ramen dish, and one could be our own creation. I'm not really into competing, so I just thought of it as cooking with friends.
Have any idea what you would like to feature on the menu yet?
I want a lot of unique, distinct flavors to be highlighted on the menu. Although we will cross-utilize ingredients, each dish will have an identity of its own.
How about the noodles?
There will be plenty of different types of noodles, especially those not so common in the area. We will try to source out the best noodles for our dishes. From soba, udon, ramen, and ban pho. I'm superexcited.
Kapow! Noodle Bar is a NYC-style noodle house brought to you by Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich, the men behind nightlife and culinary experiences like Dada, Tryst, the Dubliner, Delux, Respectable Street, Kill Your Idol, and Vagabond. The Kapow! team is rounded off with Pizza Fusion founder Vaughan Lazar, who brings to the table an organic and eco-conscious alternative for dining out.
Kapow! -- set to open in the coming months -- will focus on a menu of communal Asian comfort food with a gastro-style influence and will use locally grown (and some organic) ingredients to cook up handcrafted noodles, buns, dumplings, BBQ, and salads.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter @CleanPlateBPB.