Kapow! Noodle Bar in West Palm Beach packs a mighty punch in flavor as its bold name suggests. Stepping inside is like entering a culinary world of its own, filled with art, comics and, of course, savory dishes. The bar-centric restaurant showcases family style dining with small, shareable plates and a contemporary take on Asian street food.
Vaughan Dugan, partner and owner, teamed up with his lifelong friends—South Florida restaurateurs Scott Frielich and Rodney Mayo—to launch the first Kapow! location in Boca Raton in 2011. Their second location made its Clematis Street debut in July.
“We wanted our guests to have a fine dining experience in terms of the standards of service but obviously in a very fun, casual atmosphere,” Dugan says of the Pan-Asian eatery.
After much research and traveling, the trio set their minds to opening an Asian-fusion concept after learning about the successes David Chang and other restaurateurs were experiencing in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A conversation during one of their research trips inspired the branding of the restaurant. “We were like, ‘It would look cool like the old Batman ‘KAPOW,’” Dugan says of the in-your-face red, blue and yellow signage that is incorporated throughout the space.
In terms of experience, the owners opted for a fun, exciting vibe at the restaurant with lots of noise and action. An authentic 1940s rickshaw hangs from the ceiling, while a colorful mural with zen stones created by local artist Craig Mcinnis accompanies futuristic robots. It’s “like ‘Blade Runner’ meets anime,” Dugan says.
What to Order
Different from the Boca location, a spacious kitchen and an expanded menu were added, meaning one thing: Peking duck. This exclusive West Palm Beach menu item arrives at the table with cucumber, scallion, pancakes and hoisin. Guests can enjoy a well-balanced duck with tender meat and the right amount of fat.
Creating authentic dishes that still appeal to the masses is a continuing priority for Kapow!, Dugan says. There’s something for everyone, including raw dishes like Hamachi Yuzu Crudo, to noodles and a variety of dim sum. Traditional plates of shrimp pad Thai, beef and broccoli and wild mushroom chow fun are also items worth ordering. Plus, there’s Crispy Pig Ear, served with a green papaya salad, peanut and sweet and spicy tamarind sauce.
“We’ll always try to reinvent ourselves, we’re always trying to do better and we’re always researching new trends,” Dugan says. “We’re just trying to improve because people get real comfortable in this business. I think that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Don’t miss out on weekly happenings like Disco Dim Sum on Tuesdays and Sunday brunch featuring DJs and food and drink specials.
Kapow! Noodle Bar, 519 Clematis St., West Palm Beach / 561.246.3827 / kapownoodlebar.com