It was back to Boca Raton, Florida last week for a family visit, and the usual challenge of finding good eats. Boca’s not the best place for food (it’s Cheesecake Factory territory), and I had a variety of personal preferences to consider.
Pushing the envelope a bit, I decided that happy hour at a new place called Kapow! would be a less threatening way to sample some Asian dishes that would be new to a couple of my family members. Prices were very reasonable at three dollars per plate, and beer wouldn’t hurt!
Located at Mizner Park, Kapow! is a pretty hip place with an interesting mural as the showpiece. But taking advantage of Florida weather, we chose to eat outside, and worked our way through a good portion of the happy hour menu:
Shishitou peppers with crab & cheese stuffing, panko breading, and sweet and sour sauce
Seasonal pickles with apple cider vinegar
Crispy chicken skin with parmesan crisp and green beans
Pan-seared beef gyoza with sweet and sour sauce
Steamed buns with pork belly and pickled cucumbers, with grain mustard hoison sauce
Steamed buns with maitake mushroom, served with garlic soy sauce and scallions
Steamed shrimp dumplings (shumai) with chili pepper soy sauce and chives
Sauteed green beans with garlic and soy sauce
My family enjoyed a “different” kind of dining experience for them. My favorite dish was the shishitou peppers. Coming from Seattle, I found some of the food rather safe, though perhaps bold for Boca. (For example, there’s beef tongue on the regular menu, though that shouldn’t be so scary for the many retirees in the area who probably ate beef tongue as children.) I was tempted to try the ramen, given all the ramen-eating I’ve been doing, but $15 seemed expensive for a bowl, and reports (including photos I’ve seen) are that the broth is a deep brown, which is worrisome.
Cosi Duci is another place I picked, based on research on food message boards. I’d read that the set lunch offers good quality at a reasonable price, with three courses plus focaccia bread for just $10. (There are also a few items available at a la carte.) The day’s menu is available online each morning, though the day we went, it hadn’t yet posted when we walked out the door. Turns out we hit a meatless day, but the food (served family-style for the three of us) was ample and overall satisfying:
Split pea soup
Penne with vegetables
The focaccia and penne were a bit plain to me, and I’d describe the soup as bean more than pea. The eggplant was the highlight of the meal–very tasty. Cosi Duci is best-known as an Italian bakery, and I did enjoy the goodies I bought for later, including a cannoli with filling that was refreshingly not over-sweet, as well as raspberry linzer tarts.
Anxious to show off his appreciation of Asian food, my father took us to Shinju Japanese Buffet one night. This mini-chain draws big crowds enticed by the all-you-can-eat environment. You can pick out meats and vegetables for quick-cooking by wok or Mongolian grill. There are also endless steam tables full of General Tso’s-like dishes, and looking around at the tables (including my own), there were massive amounts of fried food being consumed. I focused on the sushi bar, filling my plate (and another, and another) with sushi and sashimi (ignoring the plentiful rolls), supplemented by miso soup and seaweed salad:
I must admit that the sushi, freshly prepared in view, was better than I expected, though I don’t want to think about the source of the seafood–or much of the other food, either. Even more frightening is how much the diners would partake of the dessert buffet after eating so much of the other food.
Although it’s the farthest of the three airports near Boca Raton, I like flying in or out of Miami because it usually enables us to eat one better meal before going to Boca. This time around, I wanted to find an easy stop between the airport and Boca, so some research led me to Red Light Little River. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the Blu Motel (previously known as the Gold Dust Motel) in what has been known as the Red Light District of Miami. Upon landing after flying cross-country, outdoor seating along the river (we saw herons and were told we could see manatees during the day) felt right on a warm winter’s night, though it resulted in dark food photos.
We were pleased with the quality of the food and the fair pricing. A true trip to the south!
“Saints Will Win” gumbo and rice ($9, though not true, as the Saints lost)
Spinach salad with organic eggs, caramelized vidalia onions, and house-smoked bacon ($8)
Crab-stuffed anaheim pepper floating in vine-ripe tomato little neck clam stew ($15)
BBQ shrimp and dip bread ($10 for a half-order, and probably would be great with grits)
Whiskey raisin bread pudding with vanilla ice cream ($5)
The scene of the delicious crime