Chef Amante Domingo’s new fine dining restaurant Noka opened earlier this month. Located in downtown’s Martini Corner, Domingo likens his new place to a “Japanese Farmhouse,” offering an internationally-inspired small-plates menu. Items such as miso striped bass, tempura fried beef tongue, shrimp risotto and A5 Japanese wagyu beef are just a few of the eclectic menu’s highlights (334 E. 31st KCMO).
Large communal tables and natural textures of ceramic and genuine farmhouse wood fill the dining room. A sleek, yet earthy atmosphere is elevated with an open kitchen and a custom Japanese binchotan charcoal grill. Live fire is Domingo’s preferred way of cooking.
“If there’s not a fire in the kitchen, I’m not gonna be there,” the chef says.
The drink menu features an extensive list of reserve wines with sake and soju programs.
Domingo is the owner of Union Hill’s The Russell and previously opened Tailleur along with Heather White. Despite his previous ten years as a sushi chef, Noka, which is Japanese for ‘farmer,’ refers to the restaurant’s aesthetic and attitude more than its food.
After his father’s passing last year, Domingo, in his grieving process, began to collect materials from his parents’ one-hundred-and-fifty-acre farm. These raw materials were used in the restaurant’s design to exhibit a wabi-sabi aesthetic, meaning perfectly imperfect.
“It’s a reference to the materials, it’s a reference to the way we wrote the menu, the way we style the plates, the way we communicate with each other. It is our lifestyle,” Domingo says. “For example, wabi-sabi cooking would be celebrating a perfectly imperfect vegetable. Not wanting the carrots that look picture perfect but the carrots that have bends and turns with their roots hanging out.”