Food News

Just a Bite: March

The latest updates from Kansas City’s growing food and drink scene

Kabuki Returns

It’s sad to see much-loved restaurants go away, but on occasion, they rise again, albeit usually in a different location and appealing to a different crowd.

The new version of the 28-year-old Kabuki sushi restaurant, once a staple of Crown Center’s dining repertoire, is a scaled-down affair. Very scaled down.

In its heyday in Crown Center, restaurateur Ted Hamada served the kind of Japanese cuisine that Midwest patrons, particularly out-of-town tourists, loved: sukiyaki, sushi, teriyaki, sliced steak cooked on a the sizzling teppanyaki grill.

The dining room, with its paper screen doors, officially closed in 2014. But Hamada wasn’t ready to say “sayonara” quite yet and at the end of 2016 leased a tiny space on the first floor of the iconic Brookside high-rise, 333 West Meyer, a 1955 apartment building that went condo in the 1980s.

The new dining room, which opened in January, has a compact sushi bar with four chairs and seven small tables.

The menu is limited to a number of familiar starters (fried tofu, edamame, fried calamari, miso soup), a cheery assortment of exotic-sounding sushi rolls, a couple of teriyaki choices and noodle bowls.

The hours are limited, too (the venue, open Tuesday-Saturday, closes promptly at 9 p.m.) and unsurprisingly; the place does a far more brisk business in carry-out orders than sit-down dining. Hamada has applied for a liquor license, but as of this writing, there’s no bar. The staff turns a blind eye to sneaky customers pulling booze out of their bags, but most patrons seem to be getting their stimulation from cups of green tea.

On a Roll

JAB_LuckyTacoThere are very good restaurants in many of the Las Vegas casinos. In Kansas City—not so much. In fact, some of the local casino properties are notorious for not having very good food at all. But all bets aren’t off.

At the end of 2016, the Isle of Capri casino finally updated its very dated buffet restaurant, Calypso’s, replacing it with a much more appealing brand, Farmer’s Pick Buffet. The entire dining room was given a design overhaul, and the food quality has been kicked up several notches.

In Riverside, another casino property—owned by the Penn National Gaming Company—recently re-vamped its long-mediocre casual dining venue, Crazy Olives, into a new 140-seat Mexican concept, The Lucky Taco.

The jury’s out on the good fortunes of this taco joint, but it does offer patrons a complimentary made-fresh-daily chips and salsa bar. The Argosy’s chef de cuisine Juan Zavala is overseeing the operation.



JAB_ClementineFor years, the sorry-looking structure at the corner of 27th and Troost was painted a Pepto Bismol pink. Recently, it’s been re-painted the same baby-blue shade of a 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

1957 is a key date for this venue; the building bears very little resemblance— inside or out—to the original tenant from 1926, a silent-movie house called the Baghdad, which boasted a Wurlitzer organ and separate rooms for patrons who smoked cigarettes or had crying babies. The theater was nearly destroyed by a 1957 fire and spent the latter half of the 20th century as a church.

The structure is once again being revitalized, this time as a combination yoga studio, massage facility, local fashion icon Danielle Meister’s We Are Sincerely Yours clothing shop and the future home of restaurateur Beth Barden’s tentatively named Clementine restaurant. Barden is best-known as the owner of the Succotash bruncheonette at 27th and Holmes.

The new restaurant will be under 900 square feet and will serve, says Barden, “a beautiful mix of vegan and vegetarian cuisine.” And one more thing: soup bone broth. “All made from locally sourced beautiful bones,” says Barden.

Clementine will only have seating for 20 or fewer and will also serve espresso and house-blended teas from an open-air kitchen. Barden hopes to have the bistro open by May.