Critic’s restaurant pick: finding Japanese flavors in Palm Beach

Crudo power: yellowtail at Imoto. (All photos by Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Crudo power: yellowtail at Imoto. (All photos by Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

Central county pick: IMOTO

Like Buccan, its wildly popular big sister next door, Imoto (which means “little sister” in Japanese) prizes quality ingredients, preparation and presentation above all else.

Nothing less is expected from chef/co-owner Clay Conley, who fashioned the bar and eatery from his experiences working and living in Japan. The local star chef, who just reopened Buccan after a massive, 11-day makeover, is set to open a third concept in mid-November, an Italian eatery in West Palm Beach named Grato.

Imoto brings izakaya flavor to Palm Beach.
Imoto brings izakaya flavor to Palm Beach.

At Imoto, the menu features crispy starters, crudo (raw) small plates, wood-fired items, rolls and raw fish in various forms. While you decide, try a uni and oyster shooter with a quail egg, sake and ponzu – it’s the umami-rich sip we call “the sea in a shot glass.”

A trio of oyster shooters at Imoto.
A trio of oyster shooters at Imoto.

Imoto at Buccan: 350 S. County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-833-5522; Facebook.com/ImotoPalmBeach

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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New on Clematis Street: The Dispensary diner and soda fountain

The Dispensary, West Palm Beach. (Contributed)
The Dispensary, West Palm Beach. (Contributed)

The Dispensary, a daylight eatery and soda fountain, has opened on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. The retro-hip spot is located inside the Center City Pharmacy, where The Vegan Café briefly operated.

On the menu: hefty breakfast dishes, including four types of Eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak, smoked salmon on bagel, waffles and biscuits with gravy. Lunch offerings include chickpea soup, potato soup, tons of fresh salads, burgers and sandwiches (BLT, prime rib, cheddar-Gruyere grilled cheese), various sides and daily specials. Soda fountain favorites, like shakes and sundaes, are served as well.

“People are loving the food,” says co-owner Christian Wiebel, a local restaurant veteran who most recently worked at the now-closed Garage VV in Northwood.

He opened the new diner with partner Gregory Galgano on Sept. 1 as an intimate, 45-seat eatery.

“We want to add more tables, but we want to start small, with a chance to grow. For now, we want to keep it small,” says Wiebel.

Clematis Street's newest diner has outdoor seating. (Contributed)
Clematis Street’s newest diner has outdoor seating. (Contributed)

Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the full menu offered till 5 p.m. (From 5 to 7 p.m., soda fountain items, croissants and packaged salads are offered.) Open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sunday. Hours are expected to expand in season.

Online ordering is available.

The Dispensary: 416 Clematis St. (inside Center City Pharmacy), West Palm Beach; 561-990-2555; TheDispensaryWPB.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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