By Kevin Collison
A new sushi place is in the works for the East Crossroads, this one specializing in hand rolls, a newer trend for serving the popular cuisine.
Nam Phan and his partners plan to open Kata Nori Hand Roll Bar in the former Ron Rico space at 404 E. 18th St. this June, attracted by its address amidst the bustling microbrewery scene.
“It’s a great location, the space is perfect and it’s next to breweries,” Phan said. “We figured it’s a good spot for a little food.”
The Kata Nori announcement comes just a week after Blue Sushi Sake Grill announced it will be opening a second metro location in the Power & Light District, but the two sushi places come from very different ponds.
Blue Sushi is part of a national chain of restaurants owned by Omaha-based Flagship Restaurant Group.
Kata Nori traces its roots back to Phan’s childhood when his family ran a Vietnamese place called Sao Mai on Independence Avenue in northeast Kansas City years ago.
“My family used to own a restaurant and my mom put in a lot of hours,” Phan recalled.
The partnership behind Kata Nori include Phan, Kyung Kim, Jennifer Vu and veteran chef Anh “Bass” Pham.
Pham was a chef at Uchi in Houston and helped the restaurant open locations in Dallas and Denver. He also worked at Kokoro in Houston,
“We all grew up here and we love Kansas City,” Phan said. “We wanted to bring something new and exciting for Kansas City.
“It’s a new trend popping up called hand roll bars. It’s sushi, but not your typical kind. We wont’ have tables, but one big sushi bar.”
As opposed to traditional sushi that’s rolled in cylinders and meant to be sliced into bite-size pieces served with chopsticks, a hand roll bar is is eaten by one person with their hands.
“Its rolled with seaweed, rice and ingredients such as fish and crab,” Phan said. “We’ll also have a few shareable plates and some sashimi.”
Kata Nori will have no large dining tables. Patrons can eat their hand roll sushi at the bar or a small lounge area.
The restaurant also is applying for a liquor license for beer, wine, saki and a limited drink menu. Phan said the plan is to create a fun atmosphere and feature music, occasionally provided by a DJ.
The initial plan is to be open for dinner only, probably 5- to 10 p.m. and perhaps as late as 11 p.m. on weekends. Once the operation begins running smoothly, lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 2:30 are expected to kick in.
Lunches are expected to be popular because of the speedy service.
“We get a quick turnaround for our customers,” he said. “It’s good food but fast.”
Liam Dai contributed to this report
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