You’ve probably heard about Kapow Noodle Bar in Boca Raton more than once. “Everyone” seems to love it and raves about the food and cocktails offered at this Pan-Asian eatery in Mizner Park. While the space it occupies is small and somewhat cramped, the food that comes out of the kitchen is big on flavor and some of the best I’ve had.
There is only one problem with Kapow.
Deciding what to order.
The menu is broken down into several sections from small plates to big plates and everything in between. I say the best way to enjoy Kapow is to bring some friends and order several items and share. Which is exactly what we did Sunday night. Trust me, a few of this and one or two of that, allows you to sample some of the creative dishes Kapow offers and gives you pretty much a good idea of the flavors and creativity that goes into every dish.
From the Small Plates section, we had the Wok-Charred Edamame – a little different twist on traditional edamame. Instead of being steamed and tossed in salt, the edamame was cooked to just a slight char on the outside then tossed in a sesame oil and garlic soy sauce and topped with just a little bit of salt. I’m not a huge fan of edamame, mainly because you have to figure out what to do with the remains after you eat them! These were a nice change from the traditional and because they were already tossed in a tasty sauce, you didn’t have to dip them into anything else.
Next up was decided by a coin toss. We were leaning towards trying some of the Bulgogi Street Tacos, (Kimchi ribeye, cabbage, red onion, grape tomato, sriracha aioli) also found under the Small Plates section, but we ventured down the page a little bit to the Dumplings and ordered up some Short Rib Shumai (slow braised short rib fried dumpling, kimchi aioli, cilantro). The Shumai were very good, however I thought the short rib – which there was plenty of – was just a little dry.
Wanting to try a traditional dumpling, we ordered some of the Shrimp Dumplings (chives, garlic, carrots, garlic soy) which were served steamed and in the traditional wooden steamer. They were average size, had big pieces of shrimp inside and were cooked perfectly – not too soggy and not too al dente (to borrow an Italian phrase).
Before I move on to the next dishes we tried, here’s some pet peeves:
- It was a beautiful night and even though it was almost 9pm, Kapow was still busy. The few tables inside were all taken so we opted to sit outside at the bar that shares the courtyard with sister restaurant The Dubliner. We ordered and after a few minutes food started to appear alongside our cocktails. In front of us was a caddy which held three nondescript bottles of different sauces. At no point did the bartender, or the server who brought the food, say, “Hey you may want to try some of these sauces we have… they are…” and go on to tell us what they were. We left it up to our tastebuds to tell us, but we did end up asking and found out that one was the venerable sriracha, one low-sodium soy and I totally forget what the third was!
- Food being served in odd numbers. Yes, as crazy at it sounds, I find that to be annoying. If there’s two people, a fight is going to break out over who is going to get the third Short Rib Shumai! Some items on the menu are served as 2, 3 or 4 pieces. I say skip the 3 and make it 2 or 4 so one person isn’t going to get cheated out of a dumpling. Petty, yeah, but I had to vent on that one.
Next up were two dishes we both agreed we had to try. First was the Chicken Fried Rice (sweet soy glazed chicken breast, egg, onion and scallions) from the Big Plates section. This is not your Pei Wei or corner Chinese restaurant fried rice. On top of a very generous portion of rice was an entire chicken breast that was tender, juicy and so flavorful, I almost wanted to say, “bring me more.”
Not wanting our visit to a noodle bar go by without experiencing some noodles, we ordered up Kapow’s Signature Pad Thai (sweet & spicy sauce, banh pho, lime, peanuts, cilantro with chicken). We kicked it up a notch and also had them add skirt steak and shrimp to it. The noodles were so sweet and perfectly cooked. The skirt steak was done to a medium rare temperature (side note: we were never asked how we wanted the steak cooked) although I found it to be a bit on the tough side. The chicken was a little dry and lacked a flavor profile – I guess we got spoiled with how good the chicken was in the fried rice, that this was a bit of a let down. As far as the shrimp were concerned, there were only two.
For a signature dish, I had higher expectations, but I didn’t let it overshadow the rest of the food we had which was a home-run.
Like I said earlier, Kapow is one of those restaurants were you want to go, order a bunch of items and share it among yourselves. You can probably do away with anything from the Big Plates menu and make a great meal out of several of the smaller offerings in order to get a feeling for what Kapow is all about.
They are open for lunch and dinner and also have a Sunday brunch. The place is small and it gets busy, plus they’re open late – till 2am Friday and Saturday!
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