In South Florida, restaurateurs can take a good, innocent trend...and beat it to death. Haven't we heard enough about beer bars, farm-to-table fare, and good ole' gastropubs?
But it's nothing but new at Roy Villacrusis' latest pop-up, the Studio, where a different menu is served up each night. Inside the West Palm Beach Thai eatery Bangkok O-Cha, Villacrusis has carved out a tiny, 16-seat restaurant that he describes as "adventurous." Have a meal here and he'll bring you across an entire range of flavors -- oftentimes all on one plate.
Thankfully, Villacrusis -- and his wife, Miele -- are adept at guiding
the timorous eater through a constantly changing menu, patiently
explaining dishes that sound foreign to even the most forward of
foodies. By the end of dinner, you'll be able to identify the unique
ingredients behind his brightly hued red curry, know the difference
between cilantro and culantro, and spot a Shimeji from an Enokitake
Just be sure to bring your appetite. At $80 a pop for dinner, you'll want to make sure there's plenty of room for the ten to 20 small-plate offerings he'll dish out. And don't be afraid to venture into the unknown: once sampled, Villacrusis' food has the gravitational pull of the sun, and there's no looking away. For more information about Studio, visit Villacrusis' website and Facebook page.
Villacrusis, whose prawn dish we chose as our # 3 favorite in
Broward and Palm Beach counties, was kind enough to indulge us in a game
of fill-in-the blanks and share a favorite recipe.
My secret wish is to be an actor. Anything where I'm performing.
My role model: No one. I pick up a little bit from everyone.
If I weren't cooking I'd be in advertising (it's what I went to school for), in the big New York City, or a mixed medium artist.
When I'm not in the kitchen I'm doing anything artistic -- I play the guitar and love photography.
One vice I could do without: watching too much TV.
Don't be surprised to see me in church -- or cooking in someone else's restaurant!
I have a hard time washing dishes. Really. I hate it.
If I could cook dinner for anyone it would be my grandfather. He once served me unhatched eggs with chicken blood and rice. He was an amazing cook, and he never had the chance to see me become a chef.
If I could eat dinner prepared by anyone else it would be Tetsuya Wakuda, Susar Lee, and my mom.
I would really like to see the food scene in South Florida become more exciting and creative. Anything other than Italian!
At the moment, my favorite ingredients to work with are curry and pork.
The one food trend I really love right now is creative plating. Not just the design, but new ways of using ingredients to create an unforgettable dish.
When I'm cooking I must have some type of citrus, and something beautiful to listen to or look at always helps.
You can always find wine, cured ham and lots of fruit in my fridge. I love to make smoothies.
My favorite drink to pair with an amazing dinner is wine or a good sake.
Three things I can't live without: Love. Trust. Respect. Especially from my wife, Miele.
If I ever leave South Florida, I would go to San Francisco.
Miele's Mushroom Salad
"This is a beautiful illustration of the taste of umami, and a great canvas for meat and fish, especially skirt steak, and atop pastas or mixed into a salad. It's also great on its own as an appetizer." -- Roy Villacrusis
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup each of Japanese mushrooms (Maitake, Brown Shimeji, Golden Enoki, White Enoki)
½ cup sweet soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoon white truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a sauté pan to medium heat and add vegetable oil. Add garlic and sauté until light golden brown. Add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and let brown before stirring. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the sweet soy and white truffle oil. Gently pan toss to coat all the mushrooms evenly. Turn off heat, taste to adjust seasoning, and serve.
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