I was recently invited to attend the opening of Kasai & Koori in Boynton Beach and boy was I in for a fantastic and tasty surprise!!!
Kasai & Koori, an Asian-inspired dessert restaurant concept created by restaurateur co-founders Lee Goldberg and Taylor Levy, is taking traditional Asian desserts such as Japanese Kakigōri, Taiwanese shaved ice, Taiyaki waffles, and Korean Bingsu, and re-imagining them by giving them a distinct and delicious North American twist. The name Kasai & Koori is a derivative of the Japanese terms fire and ice, representative of polarizing forces coming together to deliver a truly unique experience in an upscale environment. According to Goldberg & Levy, “it’s all about dessert because dessert makes people smile.” Most of what they have here has not been available or tried in the US until now.
The people of Southeast Asia have been harboring a sweet secret for years: delicious traditional desserts inspired by the ice caves of the famed active volcano, Mount Fuji. And now, for the very first time, Americans are able to experience these delectable delicacies including Japanese Kakigōri, Taiwanese shaved ribbon ice, and Korean Bingsu, re-imagined with the grand opening of Kasai & Koori.
Kasai & Koori made its official debut in South Florida this month in Boynton Beach with three more locations spread throughout Palm Beach and Broward Counties opening soon. The idea for the unique business venture came to life thanks to longtime friends and business partners, Lee Goldberg and Taylor Levy. Goldberg, an attorney and original co-founder of popular eatery chain BurgerFi, and Levy, running his family’s Golden Corral franchise stake with four locations, stumbled upon the discovery of Kakigori, a Japanese frozen dessert delicacy, on a recent trip to Asia where they initially intended to scout Asian street food prospects for a food hall they were looking to develop back home.
Having had their light bulb moment and knowing they had to be first to market what they discovered abroad, Kasai & Koori was born. The duo continued exploratory trips back and forth to Asia to seek out the best in frozen cultural desserts that neighboring countries had to offer. After a trek up Mount Fuji which produces ice year-round when the air meets water, Goldberg and Levy ever fascinated by their experience and immediately began collaborating on Kasai & Koori.
“Kasai & Koori encompasses a melting pot of traditional Asian flavors through a virtually-untouched concept here in the United States,” says Goldberg. “We wanted the brand to pay homage to their culture while bringing an American twist to the menu, offering concepts that are not only one-of-a-kind here in South Florida, but to the United States as a whole.”
“In Japan, we have watched locals form lines each and every day around the block just to taste these desserts, often ordering two or more at a time,” echoes Levy. “We know we are able to offer something so distinct with the opening of Kasai & Koori and look forward to bringing our menu all across the nation.”
On Kasai & Koori’s menu, standout items include six varieties of Kakigōri, a dessert historically presented to Japanese royalty and made from shaved blocks of ice, garnished with flavors and toppings. Choices include the Sleeping Dragon (Matcha) with Matcha, Azuki Bean, Koori whipped cream, dragon milk, golden powder and the Miyako Moon (Mango) with mango, dragon milk, Koori whipped cream, Belgian Butter cookie. Meanwhile, ribbon ice, a thin-shaved snow ice delicacy is considered a bold ice and cream dessert full of taste and customized to the guest’s desire. Menu selections include the Island on Ice (Coconut) with coconut, dulce de leche, Koori whipped cream and The Timid Tanuki which translates to “Japanese Raccoon” but will signify a Cookies & Cream creation with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, Oreo.
Those on the go can opt for a Taiyaki; a popular handheld treat often served at festivals and street markets in Japan and Korea. Resembling a fish-shaped waffle cone, (snapper is a good luck symbol in Asia) the baked pastry is stuffed with sweet or savory specialty fillings including Kasai & Koori’s Cheraoke with chocolate and cherry, The Castaway with dark chocolate banana and coconut and the Bean There with sweet Azuki bean and golden powder. Savory hot Taiyaki sandwiches, ideal for any time of day, will also be available with options such as The Break Fish with egg, sausage, cheese and The Laughing Fish with cheddar, mozzarella, tomato.
Other indulgences on Kasai and Koori’s menu include artisan-made Mochi and Spiked Dragon Beard, three flavors of flavored ice infused with alcoholic beverages.
Kakigori is a traditional Japanese treasure originally reserved for royalty, made from shaved blocks of ice and garnished with flavorings and toppings.
Tropical Fuji (Mango) shaved ice, mango sauce, condensed milk, koori whipped cream, fresh diced mango, Belgian butter cookie
Pale Mountain- (Lychee) shaved ice, lychee fruit sauce, purple taro crème, lychee fruit stars
The Red Fox (Strawberry) shaved ice, strawberry sauce, diced strawberries, condensed milk, koori whipped cream, rare cheese cream, chia seed sauce, cinnamon streusel
The Sleeping Dragon (Matcha) shaved ice, matcha tea sauce, azuki bean, koori whipped cream, condensed milk, golden dragon powder
True Romance (Peach) shaved ice, white chocolate mint sauce, peach jam, chopped fresh mint
Up all Night (Coffee) coffee shaved ice, coffee sauce, condensed milk, dolce de leche, koori whipped cream, toasted almonds
Ribbon ice, a traditional thin-shaved ice delicacy from Southeast Asia, is a bold ice and cream dessert infused with flavorings and complemented with an assortment of toppings.
Tokashiki Moon ((Mango) ribbon ice, mango sauce, condensed milk, diced mango, koori whipped cream, Belgian butter cookie
Island on Ice (Coconut) ribbon ice, coconut sauce, dolce de leche, koori whipped cream, toasted coconut
The Dark Warrior (Coffee) ribbon ice, coffee sauce, dolce de leche, toasted almonds, koori whipped cream
The Timid Tanuki (Cookies & Cream) ribbon ice, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, Oreo® cookies & crumbles, koori whipped cream
Taiyaki Waffle Cone shaped like a seabream is known in Japanese mythology as the “lucky fish” and confections made in its shape have been eaten as a snack since the Meiji period. Filling the “fish” with frozen cream was a luxury though, and typically saved for festivals—until now.
Creamy ice cream wrapped in a thin layer of Japanese mochi rice dough. The resulting hand-held dessert is as playfully delicious as it is refined.
Each Kasai & Koori location will also be 100 percent committed to sustainability with bamboo cutlery, filtered Vero Water, reusable water bottles, and more. Kasai & Koori locations are peanut-free to create a safe environment for kids (and adults) with peanut allergies to be able to come in and enjoy.
Under Goldberg and Levy, Kasai & Koori will open four locations this fall in Fort Lauderdale (Sistrunk Market & Brewery), Boynton Beach (Canyon Town Center), Delray Beach (Pineapple Grove), and Pembroke Pines. The pair plans to open additional restaurants in Miami and Orlando before expanding further north and opening the doors to qualified franchisees.
I was super excited to learn that they will be opening a K & K store in Downtown Delray and will be added to our “Taste Atlantic Avenue” culinary tour. Stay tuned for more info on this…
This Kasai & Koori is located at 8784 Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach, FL 33472 561-336-2211 KasaiAndKoori.com
They say to find unknown treasures, you have to leave the beaten path. In Boca Raton, areas like Mizner Park and Royal Palm Place are downtrodden with first-time visitors to our sea-kissed town. Yet, it’s a little spot just south of city central where you can find a foodie experience truly delectable and adventurous in Saiko-i Sushi Lounge & Hibachi.
Saiko-i (pronounced sigh-koi-ee) Sushi Lounge & Hibachi is the creation of husband and wife team, Jason Zheng & Tina Wang. A 7,000 sq.ft. – formerly home to the local favorite nightclub, Gatsby’s – offers guests a selection of dining experiences. For casual affairs and networking events, sit in the outdoor courtyard or spacious bar. To be entertained, 11 hibachi tables wait to amuse, as well as an open exhibition sushi bar. But if an intimate dinner for two is on the menu, a romantic row of private booths amongst hand-selected artworks can accommodate.
I had the honor of experiencing Saiko-i with a number of other bloggers, writers, and foodies for the restaurant’s media night. While familiar with the Zheng & Wang’s first Boca restaurant, Yakitori Sake House, I wasn’t aware of Saiko-i. I pulled into an unassuming shopping center on Military and SW 18th St. – shared with an Outback Steakhouse nonetheless – questioning whether or not I was in the right place. Yet, as soon as I walked in the doors, I was swept into another locale altogether.
Upon entering, I paid quick homage to a 10-foot tall Buddha before being whisked to my table. A rich color template and delicate tapestries with fine detail adorn the interior of the entire restaurant. No detail was left to chance.
The night began with Saiko-i’s signature cocktail, the lychee martini. Made with fresh lychee juice, it was a martini perfect for those looking for a crisp drink with just a hint of sweetness. Also offered were Japanese beers and whiskeys alongside the usual American counterparts.
First order of the night delivered the salmon carpaccio. I smelled this dish before I even saw it, something I can’t ever recall saying about a raw carpaccio. The truffle oil and fried garlic scents made my stomach rumble with anticipation. Saiko-i attains fresh sushi-grade fish daily, hailing from both Florida local fisheries and Japan alike. I make no exaggeration when I say the carpaccio melted on my tongue.
Next was the roasted duck wrap, a mix of tender duck and savory spices wrapped in a lightly-fried, crisp Singapore flatbread – perfectly offset by a mango sauce and balsamic glaze.
By the end of the duck, I had sipped through my lychee martini and mixed it up with a selection of Japanese whiskeys, settling on the Suntory 10 year and Hibiki 12 year. Rounds of appetizers kept appearing. Dumpling-ilke Spicy Tuna Gyoza, a crunchy UFO Roll and the refreshing fresh fish medley that is the Sexy Lady Roll.
Being a fan of curries, I had to try Saiko-i’s red curry with scallops for my main dish. I asked for a bit more kick and the chefs behind the scenes got it just right. The portion was easily enough for two and I was glad to have lunch for the next day.
Despite being stuffed with the night’s appetizing creations, the team at Saiko-i wasn’t done with us yet. They had one more surprise. We had a birthday in the group and before we knew it a panda bear came to our table with a plate full of mochi – the perfect ending to an enchanting evening.
Head Chef and co-owner Monique Buchbinder (the name MoBu is derived from the first two letters of her first and last name), earned her degree from the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan prior to working as a chef at Per Se (the sixth highlest Michelin rated restaurant) and at the famed Nobu in Miami (yes, you might say there might have been a tad bit of influence behind her restaurant’s chosen name) before deciding to become a private chef taking on catering jobs and hosting dinner parties in Manhattan, Naples and Miami. She began cooking for a gentleman named Bruce who moved to South Florida from New York. When Chef Monique expressed her interest in opening her own restaurant one day to Bruce, he realized her talent in the kitchen was too good to keep all to himself and decided to help back her. Bruce’s daughter, Brooke, MoBu’s General Manager and Marketing Director, handles the front of house and community events, while Chef Monique makes magic in the kitchen. In addition to making dishes that are filled with flavor, Chef Monique makes dishes that are sensitive to healthy diets and food allergies, including nut-free and gluten-conscious (gc) items in addition to vegan, organic, vegetarian diets. Seasonally inspired, beautifully plated, and sourced from some of the world’s most vibrant cultures, Mobu’s dishes leave guests filled with a revitalized love for cuisine and community.
Sourcing foodie favorites from Asian, French, and Caribbean cultures, MoBu Fusion Cafe in Boca Raton is where folks come to enjoy international cuisine in an elegant local atmosphere. Using fresh ingredients as her brushes and plates as her palettes, Chef Monique only works with the best food suppliers so you can expect to always enjoy the most delicious and freshest ingredients. From beautifully presented appetizers and main dishes, to tantalizing desserts, you will be in food heaven.
Relax and unwind in their beautiful patio dining area, where you will be surrounded by nature & water. This is where our group of bloggers gathered for a brunch tasting. Every dish that was brought out had a flare to it and each was exceptional. We started out with an Amuse Bouche of Tuna Poke (gc) artfully plated on a black slate. Next was the Banana Bread French Toast, which was my personal favorite. On top of this most wonderful gluten-conscious French toast (which I still can’t get over had little to no gluten) was bananas foster, Marsala wine, whipped cream and berries. I believe I am drooling as I am writing this now. lol! Our next course was a Crab Egg Benedict which featured lovely lump crab cakes topped with poached cage-free eggs and a delicious hollandaise sauce. The final tasting of the day was the Tuna Poke Bowl which was made with sushi grade tuna loin, on top of quinoa, brown rice, avocado, sesame seeds and cucumbers.
In addition to their wonderfully yummy brunch menu, they have a simple yet well thought out dinner menu as well with wonderful selections from land to sea. MoBu’s first 5 course Chef’s Table dinner is scheduled for this Friday evening, April 20th. For details, click here.
MoBu Fusion Cafe is located at 1159 South Federal Highway in Boca Raton. Delivery is available through Delivery Dudes. Catering is also available.
I am sorry for the big lapse between blog posts. So much has been happening with the expansion of Savor Our City. We are getting very close to rolling out our new website and are super excited to make the big reveal. Stay tuned to that…
I had the chance to go into the new Paris Morning Bakery in Boca, located on Powerline in the plaza between Camino Real and Palmetto Park Rd. We’ve been following each other for a little while on Instagram and I was excited to receive an invitation from them to come in for a tasting.
I hadn’t had a chance to thoroughly look over the menu in advance and didn’t know much about the restaurant prior to my arrival. I did know they served Bubble Tea and I also knew they had pastries. I assumed with a name like Paris in the title that they’d be French pastries. To my surprise, I learned that the food inspiration comes from Korea, where the company’s corporate team are from.
I had the opportunity to meet James the Manager of the Boca location. We had a nice long chat as I got to sample some of the menu offerings. Had to start with the Bubble Tea. They had soooooo many wonderful flavors that it was hard to make a decision. Well, that’s not entirely true. It wasn’t such a hard decision to make once I saw “Passion fruit” listed. For those of you who have been reading my posts for some time, you know that I have an obsession for all things truffle: truffle Parm fries, truffle honey, truffle aioli and the list goes on and on. Well here’s another something that I’m totally “passionate” about – it’s Passion fruit. I just adore this fruit juice. So, once I saw it on the Bubble Tea menu, it was a no brainer. It was every bit as good as I hoped! I sampled several of their pastries which they have packaged so nicely with little samples and descriptions found beside each one. Smart and Yummy!
James took me up to the counter and introduced me to Zipbop, (pronounced Jeep Bop) authentic Korean Dishes served with rice in a 24oz cup with different fresh ingredients. There were several zipbop dishes to choose from. I tried the eel and the Korean beef.
While both dishes were served warm and had nice flavor and texture, the eel was my favorite. I felt like I was eating a deconstructed eel sushi roll. It was amazing. I couldn’t stop eating it.
Today’s feature is on Boon’s Asian Bistro in West Delray Beach, FL. (W. Atlantic Avenue and just east of the Turnpike) There is another Boon’s (related) in West Boca on 441, however, this one has a completely different menu. Boon’s Asian Bistro features cuisines from all over Asia, including Japan, China, Thailand and the Philippines.
Boon’s embodies Buddha’s philosophy to seek happiness through peaceful harmony with themselves and the environment. In this respect, they strive to provide sustainable, antibiotic & hormone-free food where guests’ complete satisfaction is their mission. They strive to be a place where even the unexpressed wishes or needs of their guests are fulfilled. Their pledge is to provide a dining atmosphere where guests will not only enjoy the highest quality of fresh, locally sourced foods from farms and artisans from around the world but provide a fun, relaxed environment where traditional dining norms are ignored and/or broken.
I was recently invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant during their soft opening. My companion and I had the opportunity to sample a nice cross section of the menu.
Tuna tartare with Casava Chips. This appetizer was very light and fresh and each component of the dish complemented each other. I especially loved using the Casava chips to scoop up each bite.
The Tom Kha Gai soup was outstanding. Full of flavor and mushrooms that have been cooked, as compared to most places that serve this dish with uncooked mushrooms. I believe the cooked mushrooms added another layer of depth and flavor.
Lobster roll. Most lobster rolls I have had contain battered & fried lobster inside the roll; this one utilized Maine lobster that had been poached in its shell and was very light. It was a lovely presentation, and I liked it, but it wasn’t a stand out item for me.
Tofu Tempura with a peanut dipping sauce. Nice and light.
I thought my favorite fish was Chilean Sea Bass until I met this beauty. May I introduce to you North Atlantic Black Cod. Have you ever had this fish? Well, it has now catapulted to first place in the category of my favorite fish dishes, thanks to Boon’s. I especially loved the glaze that coated the fish. Yummo!
The filet mignon was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was wonderful.
The fried rice was excellent! I especially liked the grilled pineapple pieces that were included.
The Crispy Duck was seasoned and cooked to perfection!
This delicious dessert concoction is called the Buddha’s Candy ice cream sundae. It has all kinds of whimsical things thrown in for fun such as cotton candy, marshmallows and pop rocks.
Boon’s Asian Bistro Delray is located at 7959 W. Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33446