Favorite

KamiKaito tries its hand at seemingly snake-bit site in Argenta 

Will it be a sweet spot for sushi?

click to enlarge CROWD PLEASER: Blue crab topped with tuna and jalapenos.
  • CROWD PLEASER: Blue crab topped with tuna and jalapenos.

There's something to be said about staking a claim on a piece of territory that has not been kind to its previous inhabitants. Half the battle for a restaurant's success seems to be won on location alone. (Even a great location won't always do the trick.)

KamiKaito in North Little Rock faces that challenge at Sixth and Main in Argenta. Can it succeed where others, including the well-received Butcher and Public/Good Food combo and the neighborhood favorite Argenta Market, faltered?

KamiKaito is off to a good start. The restaurant is open and bright, like that of its predecessors. The ambiance is fun, modern and clean. The blown glass lighting fixtures look great next to the lightly stained wood paneling and over the sleek, white bar. Warm lighting and a grand player piano in the corner of the restaurant offset the bar's modern design.

There were some rough spots, as you might expect from a new place. On a recent Tuesday evening we visited, the crowd was thin, but the servers seemed overwhelmed.

It seems the menus were finalized before a thorough proofreading. Some of the wording was a bit bizarre. The blurb below a chili shrimp appetizer described a dish of "crunch fried beef." Unfortunately our server was having a little trouble making heads or tails of some of the items, as well. After a trip to the kitchen, he was able to paint us a clearer picture.

We started with a few appetizers. The Crispy Blue Crab ($6) was described as "5 deep fried flour thin skin with cream cheese over house special sauce." What came from the kitchen was what another restaurant might call crab rangoon, but better, we thought. It was one of the best versions of the dish we've had. It was light on the crab, heavier on the cream cheese, but the wonton wasn't overstuffed. The wrapper was thin and fried to a crisp golden brown. They were delicious, they teased the appetite and they were not too heavy.

We would place a safe bet on KamiKaito's Pork Gyoza ($5.50) being made in house. They're not like the prepackaged ones you find in most other restaurants. If you are familiar with KamiKaito's sister restaurant, Kiyen's, this version will be familiar. The large dumplings were stuffed with well-seasoned ground pork and served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

click to enlarge AHI TUNA TATAKI: Delicious and beautifully presented.
  • AHI TUNA TATAKI: Delicious and beautifully presented.

The Calamari Tempura ($7.50) may have been the most bizarre version of fried calamari we've had. The pieces of calamari were in discs, not rings. While the taste and texture were fine, they weren't reminiscent of traditional fried calamari. We wouldn't be surprised to learn we were mistakenly served shrimp. It wasn't bad, just different.

The Ahi Tuna Tataki ($13) appetizer was a highlight. The presentation was beautiful — slices of rare, seared ahi tuna fanned out on the plate, drizzled with a bit of garlic butter and served with fresh avocado and greens. The tuna melted in our mouth. While we shared this dish among four people, it could easily have been a meal for one.

It took us a while to read through all of the sushi options. There's a healthy range of creations, from nigiri and sashimi to house and specialty rolls. KamiKaito also offers other entrees like hibachi and poke bowls, but we were set on sushi. Our sushi expectations were pretty high, considering Kiyen's is one of our go-to sushi joints in town.

KamiKaito delivered. The Burning Troi ($12.95), a roll of spicy tuna and avocado topped with smoked salmon, was wrapped in foil and served on a flaming dish. It was the table's favorite roll, with a good mix of textures and its smoky flavor.

Another crowd pleaser was the Vesame Mucho ($14.95). It was stuffed with spicy blue crab and vegetables and topped with tuna and thin slices of jalapeno. The sweetness in the mango chili sauce topping helped offset the heat.

We can't say enough good things about the food at KamiKaito. Just about everything we ordered exceeded our expectations. If there was any drawback, it was the servers' lack of attention to detail. Customers shouldn't have to ask for their table to be cleared or for clean plates, and only so much can be blamed on a busy night. With a bit more staff training and a copy-edited menu, KamiKaito will be on its way to providing an all-around exceptional dining experience, and, hopefully, one that will last.

KamiKaito
521 N. Main St.
North Little Rock
891-6172

QUICK BITE

We love ordering nigiri as a starter. The Escolar (Super White Tuna) Nigiri ($6) is a light option that will keep your appetite in check until the main affair. Its flavor was buttery texture and mild — just what we hoped for. For something simple, we ordered the New Orleans Roll ($8), which was filled with spicy crawfish and avocado. Like the others, it was well done, nicely presented and tasty.

HOURS

11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 Saturday.

OTHER INFO

CC accepted. Full bar. Local beers on tap.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Dining Review

Event Calendar

« »

November

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation