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I’ve been intimidated by Kai for a long time.  My wife and I stepped into the doorway once right after it opened and saw a dark place with lots of ‘trendy’ people dressed in black and we just don’t have the black clothes in our wardrobe to fit into that crowd.

Fast forward to a recent evening where we had reservations for a play being presented at Nathan P. Murphy’s.  We thought sushi would be an excellent start to a fun evening.  Recently, we’ve been to a few trendier places and our fear factor has been lowered a bit so with Kai only a few doors down from our destination we thought it would be a good time to give it a try.

I was surprised that our trepidation wasn’t really warranted after all.  Downstairs is the bar area and while there were several trendy people dressed in black, the upstairs dining room is more normal and typical of your more upscale restaurants.  We were seated at a banquette table and took at look at the menu.

The cuisine itself is Japanese.  There are a few entrées with prices mainly in the $20’s.  There is a variety of hot and cold appetizers along with the Sashimi, Sushi and Nigiri one would expect.  There is also a large drink menu with wine, martinis, beer and drink specialties like the “Anti-Freeze” and the “Coolaid”.

We started with the Kai Salad ($3) and received a simple lettuce salad with some tomato, radish and cucumber sprinkled with a sesame dressing.  I thought the dressing lacked some in the flavor department – I would have liked the heartier creamy dressing you find at other Japanese places.  Everything was nice and fresh though.

We then ordered our sushi and based on the recommendations of our server ending up with the Drunken Tiger ($13.95) and the Monster Lobster ($11.95) rolls.

Drunken Tiger Roll

The Drunken Tiger is Kai’s version of a spicy tuna roll with the addition of asparagus on the inside and slices of lightly seared tuna layered on top.  (Sorry about the picture – we had already had a few pieces before I got the camera out.)  It was very tasty and had a nice crispy fried thing stuck in the middle.  We weren’t exactly sure what the sauces were made of but they went well with the roll.

The Monster Lobster was another good roll.  In this one the lobster was battered and fried and gave the roll a little crunch in the middle.  Other ingredients were crab (not with a ‘K’) and avocado and mango.  This one was also very good.

Once we finished off the rolls, we wanted something sweet.  The thing that captured our attention was the Banana Chocolate Spring Roll ($6) with a Cayenne Chocolate Sauce.  The chocolate sauce was pretty darn good – with just enough cayenne to give it a good kick.  The spring roll itself came off a little on the slimy side due to the banana inside.  Don’t get me wrong – we ate it all – but I think a batter-fried banana with that chocolate cayenne sauce would have been better.

The downstairs at Kai is geared around the bar crowd.  There are tables, but the bar is the focal point.  The full name of the place is “Kai, Afterdark Lounge”, but they should probably call it “Kai, Alwaysdark Lounge” as the upstairs dining room is very dark – with red & black being the dominant theme. This red and black décor must be the trendy thing now (see my review of Flo).  The dining room is narrow and there is a small bar located upstairs also.

Service was pretty good on our visit.

Overall we liked the food at Kai.  It was on the pricy side of things though.

306 S Campbell  – (417) 869-1488

Website (watch out for the loud music on the opening page)
Urbanspoon listing with Menu Pictures

Link to Health Inspections

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