In October, chef Jacob Bickelhaupt and his sommelier wife, Nadia, opened Konro, a chef’s counter restaurant in West Palm Beach. Here, diners feast upon an omakase-style tasting menu, with Jacob preparing, plating, and describing each dish, and Nadia handling every pairing. A two-Michelin-star chef, Jacob says he prefers serving guests in a space that has no walls, both literally and figuratively.
“As a husband-and-wife team, Nadia and I approach Konro as an extension of our home,” he says. “We want to offer something our guests have never seen or tasted before. In my experience at most Michelin-star restaurants there are multiple levels of chefs and staff who cook, prepare, and serve the offerings. At Konro, there is only one level of staff, just Nadia and myself, which is an extremely important part of your experience.”
The restaurant’s name comes from one of Jacob’s signature dishes: A5 Wagyu from Japan that is triple seared on a Konro grill over Binchotan charcoal. While the meat is the star, Jacob believes the tare (aged soy sauce that is sometimes mixed with mirin and sugar) is the most indispensable element. “I prefer only a beautifully aged soy sauce with no other ingredients,” he says. “I first made my own over a decade ago; conceptually much like a sourdough starter it is something that you keep indefinitely, using it only to grill my A5 Wagyu and adding more as needed. My signature tare is a mixture of my first homemade soy sauce, Japanese-whisky-barrel-aged soy sauce (from Kyoto, Japan), and the essence of the grilled Wagyu fats and umami seasoning that have developed over the years.”
The space itself is stunning and feels more like a high-end home kitchen than a restaurant. Black walnut walls are outfitted with fine art, on loan from a local gallery and available to purchase. At the center of it all is a U-shaped quartz counter lined with a handful of velvet bar seats and set with Michael Aram chopsticks in anticipation of those first bites from chef Jacob.
Konro is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, offering one seating each night beginning at 7 p.m., with a 6:45 p.m. arrival. Each meal typically includes between 10 and 14 courses. Reservations are required, with seatings priced at $390 per person, excluding beverage pairings and gratuity.