Consummate culinary journeyman Roy Villacrusis is on the move again, this time landing for an extended period. The Studio, Villacrusis’ latest pop-up restaurant concept will sprout on July 5 and run a course of five months.
The limited engagement series is taking over the sushi bar of the West Palm Beach Thai restaurant standard, Bangkok O-Cha, taking the 16-seat space and turning it into an artistic culinary studio, where ingredients and the chef’s whim pushes the flavor.
“The Studio is very influenced by Japanese discipline and culture,” says Villacrusis, whose self-coined “Asiatic Cuisine” will be on full display with nigiri sushi to composed dishes. “They will be nice little plates with complex flavors.”
The Studio at Bangkok O-Cha is more Tokyo than West Palm, taking its inspiration from the casual izakaya, Japanese bistros, where patrons can enjoy a drink and some food after work. The 15 to 20 small-course, prix fixe tasting menu is big on small bites, allowing diners to experience all of Villacrusis’ (left) culinary tricks. Starting at $80 per diner, the meals tap into Villacrusis’ Asian roots with the first six to eight courses consisting of composed and finished dishes, infused with his signature “Asiatic Cuisine” flair; followed by six to eight courses of nigiri sushi that definitely strays from the path of the Americanized sushi rolls and onto a road less traveled with unique, not often used and exotic ingredients (you won’t be finding tempura, soy sauce bowls, ginger or wasabi here); and three to four dessert courses to finish it off. Villacrusis will also compose a small wine and sake menu to accompany the meal, along with a specialty cocktail and craft beer chosen specifically for that day’s menu.
“With just 16 seats, this space is small enough to do exactly what I want to with a kitchen,” says Villacrusis about the Studio’s offerings, which is will not be held to a set menu. “The menu will be day to day in a sense, depending on the ingredients that are available. Doing this day in and day out for 20 years, I am definitely not someone who wants to do the same thing over and over again. I will make what I think works at that particular moment. If I don’t feel the same way about that dish tomorrow, then I won’t serve it anymore.”
Adhering to the omakase style (chef’s choice), The Studio’s menu is dependent on Villacrusis’ whim, which is a good thing. His culinary acumen is one of fits and moods, which allows for a truly open kitchen where he can prepare dishes that are more in line with an artistic composition than a line prepared meal from the typical white tablecloth gig. And with limited seats and seating times, there is a certain amount of flexibility, making The Studio a place for those who are looking to try something new and different.
“Food is obviously one thing we can’t live without…you might as well try something different,” he says. “If you try something different, learn something new each day, then you have purpose; things are less mundane. As a chef, I am always looking for that, to stay on the exciting side, give new flavors and different ingredients a try.”
The Studio at Bangkok O-Cha opens July 5 and will run through December, starting with a single seating, 6:45 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which lasts between two to three hours per dinner (come winter, a second seating will be added). The 15- to 20-course prix fixe menu starts at $80 with prices subject to change based on ingredients used (price finalized the day of the meal). Diners must RSVP at 561-632-7385.
“We are also planning on opening Tuesday and Wednesday too, but with a smaller tasting menu, maybe five courses, and a lower price point,” says Villacrusis. Prices will most likely start at $45; check in with Villacrusis’ website, royvillacrusis.com, for coming changes.
2062 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33409