When 10-year-old Boka reopens on Monday night, expect some changes from new chef Lee Wolen. Gone are tasting menus, replaced by Wolen's approachable, clean flavors in an appetizer-salad-entree format. "(Boka) became a special occasion restaurant," Wolen says. "We don't want to tell people how to eat."
Wolen is continuing on a path that earned him near-universal praise and a Michelin star at The Lobby at The Peninsula Hotel after coming over from New York's acclaimed Eleven Madison Park. His food is noticeably devoid of pretense yet still cooked and plated at a high level, making him a natural fit for Boka Restaurant Group (Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster).
He highlights a ramen-esque grilled octopus dish, the beet salad, and a seared monkfish with flageolet beans, oxtail and apple. Genie Kwon, Wolen's colleague from Eleven Madison Park, is handling pastry duties. Her contributions include a composed cheese plate; a yuzu, pineapple, and buckwheat dish; and a coconut, lime, and angel food cake dessert. A separate bar menu will also be available.
Wolen says he's looking at the Boka refresh as "a brand-new restaurant" but that "we're not changing the integrity." Check out his first seasonal menu below; it'll be available beginning Monday night.
· Boka to Reboot Under Lee Wolen; New Giuseppe Tentori Restaurant Coming [-ECHI-]
· All Boka Coverage [-ECHI-]
· All Lee Wolen Coverage [-ECHI-]
[Photo: Eric Kleinberg]