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.
A Banini, you ask? Certainly. The magnificent union of a bagel and a hot fresh pressed panini. It’s not only brilliant, but it’s delicious! I was invited for a tasting of a variety of banini, amongst other delicious items at the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company, the brand behind this creation, at their Fifth Avenue Shops location on Federal Highway in Boca Raton.
The Aha Moment
The aha moment struck one fateful Thanksgiving dinner when Steve Fassberg realized the recipe for success had been there all along. The seeds for Brooklyn Water Bagel and replicating that New York bagel were actually planted early on in his childhood. For Fassberg, creating the ideal bagel began the moment it clicked: “It’s all about the water.”
At the age of 13, Brooklyn-born Steve Fassberg trekked from Massapequa, New York to Miami, Florida, hauling bags full of NY bagels in the plane’s overhead compartment. He was bringing the Big Apple staples to his grandparents, whom upon seeing Fassberg exclaimed not “hello,” but “did you bring the bagels?!” Fassberg’s grandparents hadn’t eaten a good one since leaving New York and it was because the quality of water in Florida, they reasoned, didn’t match that of the New York water they had been accustomed to. New York water and its properties created that perfectly crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside combination.
The bagel visionary, a larger than life personality, cut his teeth in the world of entrepreneurship earlier than most. During the day, he poured his hours into banking and working with mortgage financing. At night he moonlighted as a restaurateur. By the age of only 21, he had saved up $80,000, just enough to open his very first deli. The Fassberg Kosher Deli in Flushing, Queens, furnished with booths made in Fassberg’s own garage by him and his friends, was opened in April of 1983 to huge success. In 1985, at the age of 25, Fassberg sold the deli for over a million dollars, marking the first of his many highly successful ventures in the restaurant industry.
It’s All About the Water
The visionary continued his career in investment banking, all the while opening and selling a roster of fruitful delicatessen and restaurant concepts. One Thanksgiving dinner, a new idea struck. The phrase “It’s all about the water” hit home once again and Fassberg dove into the chance create the perfect bagel, right here in Florida.
Brooklyn Water Bagel didn’t spring to life right away. Fassberg dedicated months of research to discovering and creating the perfect bagel, which involved not only the right oven, temperature and baking stone, but also the right water. New York pizza and bagels are so good, he discovered, because of the water. It was the only thing in baking that seemingly couldn’t be kept consistent everywhere, until then.
With the help of various water treatment companies and experts, Fassberg discovered what went into the ideal water and what had to go out. He utilized a 14-step system that purified the Florida water by methods like reverse osmosis and reduction of ions, removing from it the chlorine and ammonia present and neutralizing its pH level, among other processes, that would render it “Brooklynized™”.
Monte Cristo fresh-roasted turkey, ham, melted Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing
Chicken/Turkey BLT fresh-roasted chicken or turkey, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato
Development of Concept
Once Fassberg’s water formula was in place, it was time to create the concept which would support a world class bagel product. The next few months were focused on testing menu opinions, Brooklyn design elements and of course the creation of Cubsta “iced coffee” cubes. This is a real treat. Be sure to stop in and try one of their iced coffees using these special coffee ice cubes. You’ll be hooked for sure!
Breaking Bread with Larry
After being open only a short time in Delray Beach, Florida, Fassberg had wild success by virtue of the first authentic New York bagel produced outside New York. Armed only with a really great recipe for a bagel and a shared passion for Brooklyn, he was able to land the attention of iconic television and radio host Larry King. Fassberg flew to Los Angeles to meet with King, who couldn’t believe the bagel he was eating was made outside New York. By 2010, moved by Fassberg’s passion for Brooklyn and creating a product so well thought out and unique, King signed on to be Brooklyn Water Bagel’s first franchisee and national spokesperson.
Now, the company has 25 location in 6 states around the country, including Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, California, Georgia and Massachusetts. In addition to featuring authentic Brooklyn-style bagels, The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel menu includes egg sandwiches, deli sandwiches, omelets and muffins along with a variety of farm-sourced and artisan-roasted coffee blends.
For more info on the company, check out their website.
They are located at: 2250 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (561) 206-6821
They are open every day from 6am – 3pm.
I want to thank my friends at The Gab Group and Josh and Joe at the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company for having myself and my companion in to try out this lovely assortment. Thumbs up on food and hospitality. We will be back!
Today’s post will highlight a media dinner I attended last week at Bogart’s Bar & Grille, where we were treated to a lovely 5 course (12 item) tasting menu arranged for us in one of their 4 private banquet rooms and skillfully prepared and presented by Executive Chef Aaron Goldberg. The last time I was here was in May when I came with friend and fellow food blogger Shaina for a Girls Night Out, dinner and a movie. To read about this adventure, check out Shaina’s review. It was then, that me and my taste buds fell in love with Chef Aaron’s cooking.
With training in classical French cuisine and a touch of modern influence, Chef Aaron’s dishes are packed with flavor and are consistently on point. Aaron, originally from New Jersey, got started in the industry at the tender age of 13 and later moved to Florida to attend the Florida Culinary Institute. After receiving his culinary degree he went on to work in various kitchens including the one at The Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach, Admiral’s Cove Country Club in Jupiter and Cafe du Park in Lake Worth prior to joining the Rapoport Restaurant Group in 2010 as sous chef at Deck 84 also in Delray Beach. Chef Aaron is a consummate professional who takes his craft seriously and embodies what he does whole heartedly. When he’s not in the kitchen, he enjoys working out, going to the beach and all things food-related. Says Aaron, “this isn’t just a job. This is what I live for.”
On this evening’s menu, we were treated to 7 of the 15 new dishes created by Chef Aaron as well as 5 of Bogart’s classics.
The Miso-Maple Glazed Edamame is an example of a classic Bogart dish that Chef Aaron put his spin on. I have to definitely give him kudos on this new rendition. The char on the edamame and the sweet/tangy sauce was a perfect combination. Loved them!
Next up was the Hummus Trio (new starter item, $8). Dollops of roasted garlic, beet and avocado hummus the size of an ice cream scoop were playfully presented and served along with warm pita bread, celery and carrot sticks.
Glad to see Brussels Sprouts are still in. These Crispy Brussels (another new starter, $9) come with smoked bacon, candied pecans (genius) and an apple-pecan vinaigrette. To say they were delicious is an understatement, really.
Our next course started off with Sesame Seared Tuna (new starter, $16). As the name of the dish implies, the tuna was coated in sesame seeds and seared and laid upon a bed of wakame, and garnished with pickled ginger, wasabi, cracked wasabi peas and ponzu for dipping. While this dish definitely had eye appeal, I was more impressed with wasabi tuna salad I had on my previous visit. Perhaps all this one lacked was the miso ginger vinaigrette served with the salad. Well, that’s just my opinion. I heard others oohing and aahing over this dish, so you will just have to try it and let me know what you think.
The Tomato Mozzarella Salad (another new item listed under ‘greens’, $11) consisted of vine ripe tomato, fresh mozzarella, balsamic reduction, basil oil and sea salt. Art on a plate that tasted as good as it looked!
Our third course included their Orange-Miso Glazed Salmon. (Bogart classic, $25) Check out the coloring on the salmon, it’s gorgeous, don’t you think?!? The salmon was placed atop a bed of black forbidden “Chinese-style” rice which I had never heard of before and drizzled with a carrot-ginger emulsion.
Mojo-braised Pork Tacos (new item under large plates, $14) come with 3 tacos filled with deliciously marinated pork and topped with a charred pineapple salsa, pickled red onion and cojita (Mexican) cheese. The tacos were simple, light and tasty and the combination of the various flavor profiles was very well thought out.
The Dijon Crusted Chicken Milano (another Bogart Classic, $20) was one of the dishes I had ordered on my last visit. It definitely deserves to remain on the menu. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the Dijon crust delivers the perfect crunch. The chicken sits atop bed of broccoli florets and sweet potato raviolis in a maple-dijon cream sauce.
The Home-Style Pot Roast came out next (new item under large plates, $22) and was served with truffle whipped potato (truffle: woo hoo, yippee, nom nom, I sure do love me some truffle, lol) and baby carrots. If sandwiches are more your thing, they also have a Pot Roast Dip (new item under handhelds, $16) served on a French roll, creamy horseradish sauce and pan jus.
Moving onto desserts, all the desserts are made in house. The Bread Pudding (new item created by Pastry Chef Kate Neumann $8) is made with roasted apples, salted caramel and creme anglaise.
The Ice Cream Sandwich is made in house with flourless (gluten-free) chocolate cake and filled with mint chocolate chip gelato and a side of whipped cream ($9)
And the final dessert of the night was a New York style Cheesecake made with a graham cracker crust with a strawberry coulis ($9).
cou·lis ko͞oˈlē/ a thin fruit or vegetable puree, used as a sauce.
These cocktails were so festive looking, perfect for the holidays. Strawberry Basil Sangria and Ruby Red Martini.
Bogart’s Bar & Grille is located on the second floor at Cinemark Palace 20 Theatre, 3200 Airport Road in Boca Raton. Guests can dine here with or without seeing a movie. However, guests choosing to take in a show at the Premier Level may bring their food and beverages, including liquor, into the plush theaters. Popcorn and valet are also complimentary to Premier Level guests. As if that weren’t enough, Bogart’s offers an amazing concession stand featuring the full restaurant menu, a gourmet chocolate selection and an array of wines by the half or full bottle.
They are open from 11am until 11pm Sunday to Thursday and Friday & Saturday from 11am to 12am.
Planning a special event? Bogart’s is perfect for…Birthdays, Engagements, Wedding Rehearsals, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Family Reunions, Showers, Holiday Parties, Happy Hour, Networking, Team Meetings, Seminars, Product Launches, Client/Employee Appreciations. For info on booking Bogart’s for any of the above events, you can contact the Meeting & Events department at 561-395-7682 and let them know your foodie friend Denise from Savor Our City sent ya!
For additional info about Bogart’s, please visit their website or call 561-544-3044.
Management: Burt Rapoport, Owner of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group
A third generation restaurant aficionado, Burt started his career in New York City, where his family owned and operated a successful kosher dairy restaurant for 50 years. Known for providing high quality cuisine with a good value, an elegantly welcoming ambiance and impeccable service, Rapoport takes pride in all of his restaurant concepts. The collection includes Bogart’s Bar & Grille in Boca, and Henry’s, Deck 84, Burt & Max’s and Apeiro in Delray and is a partner in Max’s Grille in Mizner Park. Rappy’s Deli in Boca Raton is slated to open in the Fall of 2016.