There are many reasons Rebel House is still a beloved mainstay in Boca’s culinary scene—its eclectic, well-developed plates by chef Eric Baker are interesting and blissfully indulge our palates with every bite. I want to say ditto when describing his newest venture.
While this is a Japanese izakaya, or a casual spot for drinks and some bites like sushi, dumplings and fried rice, the items have an unexpected whimsical element that excites even on the menu. I mean, there’s even a pastrami sandwich, but more on that later. Plus, partnering with celebrated sushi chef David Bouhadana of Sushi by Bou, they’re delivering some of the freshest sushi in town, including an omakase option, or chef’s selection (think surprise!).
The outdoor patio is spacious, and the 10-seat interior bar allows patrons to watch the sushi chefs hard at work. The menu is carefully curated, offering something for everyone. There’s a selection of sakes, bubbles, white and red wines.
The small plates here are easily shareable. We started with the Hamachi Ponzu ($19), plump slices of tender Japanese yellowtail that weren’t overly marinated but had a slight refreshing citrus undertone and paired delightfully with paper-thin slices of spicy pineapple. The king crab tacos ($28) came out next. Mini nori shells were stuffed with crab that was not overly saucy and let the crab’s flavor take center stage.
Moving on to the meat dishes, we tried the Wagyu beef dumplings ($16), which had a lovely sear on the outside but were juicy and moist on the inside. The hot fried chicken ($19) had a great crisp and a spicy kick to it that was beautifully balanced out by the miso honey and creamy yuzu ranch. The grilled short rib ($28) was seared with a slight crunch, while the inside was tender and the savoriness was complemented by the sweet kabocha squash.
Channeling a hint of Baker’s Jewish deli that’s down the street, the pastrami sando ($21) features a hearty helping of Uncle Pinkie’s Market & Deli pastrami that’s been breaded, fried and placed in between two toasted slices of traditional Japanese milk bread. The red onion marmalade and hot mustard was a bit overpowering for me, but the bread was light and airy, and the meat was succulent. I wanted to try the garlic fried rice ($21), and am happy I did. It was a creamier version of other rice dishes I’ve had, which I liked, and it wasn’t skimpy on Florida rock shrimp and meaty bacon bits.
Lastly we tried two rolls, the spicy scallop roll ($18) and sunset roll ($23). They arrived with petite gluten-free soy pipettes that I loved, a gentle reminder to not drench the sushi in sauce and instead let the flavors of the fish stand out. The former was an inside-out roll with scallops that joyously slithered in my mouth with a hint of spice, while the latter was bursting with delicate, rich, fatty tuna.
To end the feast, the restaurant only offered one dessert when we dined, a brulée Key lime ($12) that had the crispy caramelized top of a crème brulée placed on top of a slice of soft and creamy Key lime pie. With every bite I could feel the thought, hard work and execution behind each dish. The service was on par with it, making this a meal I hope to re-create with future visits.
IF YOU GO
409 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton; 561/717-8415; alleycatboca.com
PARKING: Lot and valet
HOURS: Tues.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.