Restaurant Reviews

Kapow! Noodle Bar's Chef Roy Villacrusis Has Got A Problem

"I think I have a problem," said chef Roy Villacrusis of Kapow! Noodle Bar, the subject of this week's review. "I don't care what people think."

He's not just talking about the menu the Mizner Park noodle house that's the most recent restaurant from Rodney Mayo, Scott Frielich, and newer partner Vaughan Lazar. It's his attitude about cooking. I can't quite tell if he's serious when he says it.

"People here like what they like," he said of the area." My menu and what people like don't always match."

Of course, he's also making reference to Kubo Asiatic Cuisine, his

dazzler that earned New Times' "Best Restaurant Palm Beach County" in 2011 that

lasted about as long as a shooting star.

So far, he says, he's

had guests report on liking what they've tried, though he's had a handful  who have approached him with this complaint: "I don't

understand it at all."

"This menu is nothing fancy," says

Villacrusis. "It's the same foundation of a couple of tastes and

textures in one bite." Using the green tea cured salmon as an example,

he said, "You've got crispy greens, the bite from salmon, soft from

jelly. You have different textures and flavors in one


The salmon features a sauce that's a spin-off flavor Villacrusis remembers vividly from a Singapore street vendor in one of his many trips to Asia."It

was an explosive, spicy bite," he said of the flavor he

reincarnated into a jelly. "Once you get all the components, wow. But

it's fresh, and doesn't linger on the palate." 

The salmon dish also reminds him of travels in Tokyo, where a younger

generation of restaurateurs is pairing culinary traditions of Tokyo with

an American spin. "I'm tasting those and bringing ideas back to my

kitchen as inspiration," he said of the meta influences. Villacrusis, a self-taught chef, says

he travels to Asia once or twice a year.

 Villacrusis says he's still tinkering with the menu though he has advice for those who have yet to visit Kapow. "Try it with an open mind," he

says. Consider, for example, the crispy chicken skin that's soy charred

and served with green beans and paired with Parmesan. I'm sad I missed it.

Picky eater? With an extensive list of cocktails, sake, wine, and beer, if all else fails, it's an interesting place to get drunk.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart