Extreme Makeover

The new Boka is dark, sexy and delicious

To be totally honest, we were worried about the recent Boka renovations.

If it had gone wrong, it would have destroyed two of our favorite things: Boka's Michelin-starred food and chef Lee Wolen, who left his post at the universally beloved Lobby at the Peninsula to take over Boka Restaurant Group flagship from chef Giuseppe Tentori.

We are pleased to report that all potential crises have been averted; Wolen's version of Boka is completely different, but astonishingly good.

The space's post-renovation feel is almost eerie: We still know exactly where to turn to reach every room, but they're entirely transformed–like we've stepped into a dark mirror-universe Boka. It's as if Boka's much hotter friend took it aside and said "Bro, it's time for a change." The old airy, white interior has been replaced with black walls, tin ceilings and dark leather banquets. Then, there's that giant living wall.

Boka's roasted chicken

Wolen's food is substantial, with traditional appetizers and entrées–none of that shared plate silliness here. Start off with refreshing fluke crudo ($15) marinated in ginger, grapefruit and cilantro. Then, move on to a bowl of cauliflower soup ($12) served with crisped grains and sturgeon. Thick and funky, we could have eaten a vat of it if we didn't want to save room for what was ahead.

Wolen is famous for his roast chicken, so we had to try it. And we're glad we did. His version ($26) feels like an egg sandwich turned inside out, with a thick layer of brioche stuffed under the crackling skin. It may be the most comforting thing we've ever eaten.

It's official: Boka is back, and it means business. Sexy, sexy business.