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A health-focused, Asian inspired eatery is coming to east Boca Raton, conceived by longtime Palm Beach County restaurateur Gary Rack.
“Our goal is to bring a local chef-driven concept to Boca Raton…where there is a huge void, which is the Asian food,” said Rack, who expects to open Local Seoul at the former Stateside Sandwiches location on south Federal Highway in late August.
The Asian approach is a stretch from the cuisine Rack is known for. His restaurant group includes Farmhouse Kitchen restaurants in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, offering American fare. But the restaurateur is going after not only a multicultural niche, but also on a growing to-go community. His goal is to expand the restaurant, opening one or more locations across South Florida throughout the next several years.
“We started discussing it in greater detail during COVID when all the restaurants were closed. Our Farmhouse Kitchen in Boca did a tremendous takeout business and to-go and curbside pickup, and we are still following through with that,” said Rack.
Despite Local Seoul’s nod to South Korea’s capital city in its name, Rack’s executive chef and culinary director says the menu will be a representation of all of Southeast Asia.
Matthew Danaher describes the menu as “craveable Asian dishes that are familiar favorites from your childhood and among friends and family in a shareable dining-in or shareable to-go that has better ingredients.”
There will be at least two Korean inspired dishes including short rib bulgogi beef and Brussels sprouts. The other is “Ssam” (short for the traditonal Ssambap), a Korean-style lettuce wrap with herbs and condiments including: Cucumber, carrot, cilantro, pickled cabbage, baby heirloom toamtoes, chili crunch, and yuzu avocado smash that can be paired with chicken, shrimp, honey barbecue pork or tofu.
Thailand also makes the menu with a cashew curry chicken and shrimp. A “Floribbean” option of crackling kale and wonton salad includes cashews, carrots, bok choy, mango, pineapple, radish, shishito peppers, coconut, heirloom tomato and Asian poppy dressing.
China is represented in pork and chive dumplings with a ginger yuzu ponzu sauce, and a cauliflower tempura with a tonkatsu sauce brings a taste of Japan.
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“We’ve been talking about a Floribbean, sustainable, all natural, better food Asian concept for years,” Danaher said. “Thankfully we found a little spot and we’ve been sitting on it for six months just because we were so busy getting through with COVID.”
The 1,100 square foot restaurant has just 22 seats, but will open an outdoor patio that sits an additional 24 people in the fall. The space is small enough for customer seating surrounding an exposed kitchen, according to Rack.
“We are gong to be focused a lot on to-go business and curbside pickup so those that are scared and want to stay home, they can come pick the food up. They don’t have to get out of the car,” said Rack, who is implementing a to-go app for customers who want a contactless transaction.
“This food is meant to be shared among family friends. There is no better time with kids going back to school. With Local Seoul opening…we can make people happy dining in here or dining at home,” Danaher said.
Local Seoul is located at 1159 S. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays, 4 pm. to 9 p.m.