What’s new in kansas city food & drink: June 2023

Photography by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden.
Popular local chef opens ‘Japanese farmhouse’ restaurant
Photo courtesy of Noka.

Chef Amante Domingo from The Russell recently opened new fine dining restaurant Noka (334 E. 31st KCMO). 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. The drink menu features an extensive list of reserve wines along with sake and soju programs. 

Noka, which is Japanese for “farmer,” refers to the restaurant’s aesthetic and attitude more than its food. Large communal tables and natural textures of ceramic and genuine farmhouse wood fill the dining room. The 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,” Domingo says.

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. 

Domingo is the owner of Union Hill’s The Russell and previously opened Tailleur along with Heather White. 

Beloved taqueria expands with second location
Photography by Caleb Condit and Rebecca Norden.

From farmers market pop-up in 2019 to full-service restaurant, Taco Naco is having a wildly successful ride. Ranked twenty-two on our Top 40 KC Restaurants list, the beloved taqueria is now working on a second location in the heart of Westport (4141 Pennslyvania Ave. Suite 103 KCMO). 

The new restaurant is replacing the former Mexican restaurant Port Fonda. This second locale will be like the Overland Park location but with a twist.

The same extensive lineup of tacos and margaritas will star at the new establishment, but the bar will be larger so “patrons can see the tacos in action and can interact with bar staff,” says Brian Ruiz, Taco Naco’s director of strategy and branding.

The Westport location hopes to have a lively brunch with live Latin music, Ruiz says.

Korean food heads to Lenexa Public Market

The Lenexa Public Market (8750 Penrose Lane, Lenexa) is fast becoming an international food hall, with offerings such as African Dream Cuisine and Sohaila’s Kitchen. It was the birthplace of Taiwanese street food vendor Chewology before chef Katie Liu transitioned to a full-service restaurant in Westport (which we christened Best New Restaurant of 2022). Now, Lisa Hamblen’s Kimchi and Bap will soon be added to the list.

Hamblen began showcasing her traditional Korean cuisine in a series of pop-ups last year. She nearly sold out each weekend with her classic dishes of bibimbap and japchae noodles. In her last 2022 pop-up, she made dosiraks (Korean lunch boxes) full of kimchi, leafy greens, fermented vegetables, marinated beef bulgogi and more. 

Driven by nostalgia, Hamblen is a self-taught chef inspired by her mother’s Korean cooking. “I want to make it like something your parents would have made or your grandparents would have made,” Hamblen says.

Poïó Mexican BBQ shutters its doors

Poïó Mexican BBQ took to social media to announce it had “an incredible run” but would soon be closing up shop (800 S. Seventh St., KCK).

“We are grateful to our devoted patrons for supporting us over the years,” the Instagram post read. “Our team is humbled by the endless positive feedback we have received on our concept, menu, and unique approach to dining.”

The fast-casual barbecue joint has been in business since the fall of 2019, serving traditional barbecue with innovative twists. The menu showcased wood-fired chicken and ribs along with sides of kimchi fried rice and poblano mac and cheese.

You’ll still be able to find a few of Poïó’s barbecue dishes at the new KCI airport in the Made of KC food hall.

Third Street Social is expanding north

Restaurateurs Andy Lock and Domhnall Molloy will be adding a third location of their popular Third Street Social restaurant in the Northland.

The restaurant, known for its classic American burgers and comfort food, will occupy a seven thousand-square-foot space as the anchor of Woodstone, a $60 million luxury apartment and mixed-use project within the Metro North Crossing development. A late-fall 2023 opening is planned.

The first location opened in downtown Lee’s Summit in the seventy-year-old historic Arnold Hall building, where former President Harry S. Truman first announced his political ambitions. The street serves as the source of the restaurant’s name, combined with social in reference to the chef-driven social dining experience and large, lively bar.

The restaurant expanded south of the Country Club Plaza to another historic building in 2021.

Metro North Crossing is a notable development in the Northland on the former site of the Metro North Mall. Previously announced and already open are Hawaiian Brothers Island Grill and Whataburger. The partners in Metro North Crossing also own and developed T-Shotz, a fifty-two thousand-square-foot golf entertainment venue that opened there in 2020.

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