Kapow Noodle Bar’s tasty culinary tour of Asia

28-foot mural of a geisha dominated Kapow’s dining room.

This trendy pan-Asian gastropub brings together addictive cuisine from all over Asia, good drinks, friendly service and an outside dining alternative for diners in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.


We’d been long intending to visit Kapow Noodle Bar, the trendy pan-Asian café owned by the Sub-Culture Restaurant Group in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park, but it wasn’t until recently that we dined there.

Our visit wasn’t planned. In fact, it was our Plan B after leaving another restaurant on a recent Sunday evening, having been told by our server that the dish we had hoped to dine on, duck à l’orange, was sold out.

So, as we drove south on Federal Highway near Mizner Park looking for a dining alternative, it hit me that Kapow is always promoting its Peking Duck. Being close by made the decision easy. We parked in the adjacent Mizner Park garage, just steps from the eatery. (There’s another Kapow branch in West Palm Beach at the west end of Clematis Street.)

The Boca Raton Kapow was bustling upon our arrival close to 8 p.m. – and loud – with a mostly young crowd sitting around its bar as music heavy on the bass and drums blared from a DJ stand on the patio that separates it from the Dubliner Irish pub.

Tables outside Kapow in Mizner Park

A plus, there were plenty of outside tables and one was immediately available.

Sub-Culture Group’s Rodney Mayo, Scott Frielich and Vaughan Dugan, who own more than a dozen restaurants and bars between them, including Dada in Delray Beach, Howley’s in West Palm Beach and the Dubliner in Boca Raton, founded Kapow in 2011. They said their inspiration was New York’s Momofuko.

Inside, a vibrantly hued 28-foot mural of a geisha holding a bowl of soup that was done by Lake Worth tattoo artist Mike “Pooch” Pucciarelli dominates the dining room.  There are high ceilings, exposed vents and concrete-block walls. Tables are made of reclaimed wood and the bar top of sorghum straw.

Kapow’s menu is a vertiginous dining tour of Asia. The kitchen hopscotches through offerings from East and Southeast Asia including dim sum and other Chinese dishes, Korean kimchi, Thai-style noodle dishes, Vietnamese chicken wings, Japanese tuna Takaki and ramen, as well as a side stop in Hawaii for a poke bowl. There’s also a Chinatown Caesar salad and a Wagyu beef hamburger, albeit one topped with Asian slaw.

The drinks list is enormous with plenty of local craft beers, good wine choices and a dozen creative cocktails. Happy hour runs through 7 p.m. and for night owls, Kapow is open into the wee hours.

Given the length and breadth of the menu, choosing dinner is not a simple feat.

You can start with the addictive Wok-Charred Edamame ($8), sauced with soy, garlic, ginger, and togarashi – a Japanese spice blend of chili flakes, seaweed and sesame seeds.  Pop the pods and enjoy the saucy beans within.

Hoisin BBQ  Baby Back Ribs.

The meat slid off the bone of our tender Hoisin BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($17), which arrived prettily plated with vinegary cucumbers and hot red peppers. A knife was necessary to separate the bones. The ribs, however, were less tender on a subsequent visit to the West Palm Beach location.

Char siu pork belly bao, a barbecued slice of pork served slider style in a soft Chinese bao bun, with pickled vegetables, pineapple sweet and sour sauce, cilantro and spicy shallot, proved a bit tough to chew and was overpowered flavor wise by the pickle.

Char Sui Pork Belly Bao.

Rather than go for a whole duck, Peking style on our first visit, we opted for BBQ Duck and Ginger Fried Rice ($19). The duck was tender and tasty but overly doused with hoisin sauce.

On a second visit, to the West Palm Beach branch, we ordered the house specialty, Peking Duck ($49). It arrived unceremoniously at our table already carved, resting atop a  wood plank – in reality a slice of a fat tree – and accompanied by ginger fried rice, a steamer of thin pancakes, hoisin sauce, and matchsticks of cucumber and scallion, and, surprisingly, pink pickled onion rings. The duck, albeit a tad dry, was flavorful.

BBQ duck atop ginger fried rice.

Ginger fried rice, which accompanied our duck dishes, proved to be a scrumptious mélange of fried grains studded with colorful bits of bright green broccoli, orange carrots and hot red peppers.

Wild Mushroom Chow Fon, a bowl of wide Cantonese rice noodles, truffles, mushroom soy sauce, Chinese chives and bok choy pleased my vegan daughter.

Peking duck on a wooden plank.

For dessert, don’t miss Kapow’s Pineapple Brûlée ($10), a slab of fresh-cut pineapple topped with brûléed sugar, toasted coconut, fleur de sel  and lime. It was a delightful finish to our meal.

Blueberry Lavender Mojito.

Among the many creative cocktails on the menu, my daughter tried the Blueberry Lavender Mojito ($12), made with Ice Pik Vodka, blueberries, lavender, lime, mint and cardamom. She pronounced the drink tasty but noted there was little lavender character.  There also are a dozen variations on gin and tonic. And, if cocktails are not in your wheelhouse, consider a draft Sapporo beer or a bottled craft beer, or one of many interesting wines by the glass.

Service at both locations was friendly and attentive.

Sometime soon, Kapow will move to a larger space within Mizner Park with twice the seating and spaces for private events.  We figure we’ll return for the fun vibe, gastronomically addictive dishes, good drink and, if need be, outside seating at both of its locations.

Kapow Noodle Bar Boca Raton

431 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432



Kapow Noodle Bar West Palm Beach

519 Clematis St. West Palm Beach, FL 33401

(561) 246-3827



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