Chef Roy Villacrusis made big news last week when he claimed he quit Kapow! Noodle Bar after the owners put sliders on the menu. So it only made sense that Clean Plate Charlie try these controversial sliders. And the verdict?
Nobody should quit over these sliders. In fact, these damned fine little sandwiches ought to be someone's source of pride.
But first, a bit of background. Villacrusis has earned a following from restaurant critics and foodies ever since he took the helm at
Kubo Asiatic Cuisine. The place earned three of our top awards in our 2011 Best of Broward/Palm Beach issue: Best Chef, Best Appetizer, and Best Restaurant in Palm Beach County. We also awarded Kubo's guy san as number four in our list of our top 100 favorite dishes last year.
of those accolades couldn't keep Kubo from closing, however, but
Villacrusis landed solidly as the top man at Kapow!, a surprisingly
cool-looking joint for Mizner Park. His tenure ended quickly last week
when he told restaurant critic Melissa McCart that he left over a
dispute with ownership about dumbing down the menu with sliders.
sliders come two to an order, wrapped in a single bun, tortilla-style.
The bread is moist and doughy, more like a Chinese steamed bun. Inside
is an incredibly juicy patty that's a mix of pork and beef. It's well-spiced, tasting more like Vietnamese skewered sausage. On top is a
kimchi slaw with napa cabbage, a Thai chili aioli with fresh lime and
cilantro, and cukes. There's a great play of sweet and spicy, crispy and
soft, and a whole lot of umami.
The only complaint is the
price: They're $9 for two, meaning if you're splitting the order, you've
just shelled out $4.50 for a mini hamburger.
Update: Owner Vaughan Lazar says the price for the sliders is now $6. At happy hour, they drop to $3, a downright steal.
They're no doubt the best Asian-inspired hamburger/sticky bun this side of Midtown Miami, where Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and Sakaya Kitchen both put out incredible sticky buns. And it's arguable who would win in a three-way throwdown, considering Sakaya's are too messy, Sugarcane's are a bit oversauced, and these newcomers from Kapow! are pretty damned incredible.
we're sorry to see Villacrusis go and wish him luck wherever he lands.
But it's good to know Kapow! is going to be just fine without him, even
if the new chef is willing to put a slider on the menu.
Eric Barton is editor of New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Email him here, or click here to follow him on Facebook.