Given its Campbell Road address you might expect Kinado to be easy to find. Not so. It is tucked away an inside tract of the strip shopping center that occupies the southeast corner of Campbell and Central. Once you find it, you’ll discover a fairly dramatic dining room with chic, modern design elements that would not be out of place in any of the most fashionable parts of town. On one wall is a well-stocked bar that takes a stab at the current cocktail craze. On the other, there is an open sushi kitchen surrounded by seats for those who want to see the show. Subdued light helps to make the large space more intimate after nightfall.
Jump for the owner’s history of sushi in Dallas.
Chef and co-owner Tam Huynh comes from Vietnam. As a young man he escaped oncoming North Vietnamese forces in a small boat in which he made his way to Malaysia. After several months in refugee camps, family got him a visa to the United States. He started in the restaurant business as a busboy and found himself working at Royal Tokyo in the 1980s. At that time, according to one contemporaneous report, only 20% of the adult population in Dallas would eat raw fish. Royal Tokyo was one of only a few sushi restaurants and an incubator for several sushi stars of the future. Huynh recounted the chefs of the later restaurants Tei Tei Robata Bar, Tei-An, Teppo, Nakimoto, and Sushi Sake all worked at Royal Tokyo at the same time that he did.
Over time Huynh worked his way up the culinary hierarchy. He was opening chef at Steel in Dallas and spent several years as sushi chef at Naan in Plano. Kinado is his first part-equity venture. The restaurant opened in November and I attended a recent media event.
Kinado caters to several clienteles. First, there is a huge lunch crowd from the nearby Richardson offices. For this group the restaurant offers a menu of sushi bar favorites such as several Bento Boxes ($9-$12) that come with soup and salad. Popular items are Sea Bass Box ($12), Chicken Lemongrass Box ($9) and Tuna Steak Box ($12). The usual appetizers like Edamame ($5) and Fried Calamari ($8) are also available. The fried calamari on our visit was superbly al dente and topped with sesame seeds and sliced onion.
Next there is the neighborhood crowd that wants a quick evening meal of sushi favorites or cooked dishes. This group is served by entrees like King Crab ($28) served grilled or Giant Sea Scallop ($25) served with sautéed onions and jalapeño. There is a seafood soup ($10) that we tried and found to be rich and powerfully seasoned with black pepper but warming on a cold winter night.
Kinado is also attractive to people who want to be impressed. Since North Dallas is already sushi-centric, restaurants must provide special or unusual things to attract the discriminating crowd . Given his background at Steel and Naan it, is no surprise Huynh puts together special rolls that are both visually arresting and gastronomically tasty. We sampled The Rose, a martini glass filled with seaweed topped with seductively wrapped slices of yellowtail, tuna, salmon, and escolar (super white tuna) that was so prominent that it drew glances from passing diners.
Some menu items are more fun than esoteric. For example, Jalapeño Tempura ($12) is a concession to southwestern sourcing that worked admirably as an appetizer.
After three months, Kinado is already shaping up as a solid bet for sushi in Richardson.