Is KC having a sushi renaissance?

A Sushi Chef Prepares A Hand Roll At Kata Nori / Photo Taken By Samantha Levi

Unlike barbecue and steakhouses, KC’s sushi scene has always been lacking. But change is on the horizon. Chefs and restaurateurs are coming out of the woodwork and upping KC’s sushi game, especially with the recent additions of Kata Nori, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar and the soon-to-be-open Crossroads omakase restaurant Sushi Kodawari.

Each of these three restaurants brings a first for KC, whether it’s serving via conveyor belt and robots, offering the unique hand roll or forgoing a menu altogether to serve omakase-style.

Sushi Kodawari chef Karson Thompson wants to prove there’s no reason why KC shouldn’t have the same quality sushi that can be found on the East or West coasts. With the right purveyors, quality fish is completely feasible, he says.

“When I was looking into coming back to the city, I was really kind of surprised to see that there was nobody in Kansas City really doing this concept,” Thompson says. “It looked like there was a gap to fill in the Kansas City market.”

For updates on Sushi Kodawari’s opening, check their Instagram, @sushikodawari.

Both Kata Nori’s and Sushi Kodawari’s owners have connections to Japanese fish markets, enabling them to select the best. This direct access means higher quality fish for their KC customers, but it also means KC sushi lovers might be paying more than they are used to. But based on our dining experience at Kata Nori, which we dubbed one of our Best New Restaurants Of 2023, we think it’s worth it.

Beyond the fish, these new restaurants are also paying homage to sushi culture, which means intimate dining rooms and open kitchens where the chef prepares the food in front of their customers.

Kata Nori brings the very unique hand roll to the sushi scene. The twenty-four seat restaurant features a U-shaped bar where customers can watch on as the chefs prepare their rolls, crudos and sashimis.

The beauty of hand rolled sushi lies in the nori. The structure of the hand roll allows the seaweed to maintain its crispiness, so you get a gentle crunch with each bite. As to the type of nori used at this new hot spot? “We’re keeping that a secret,” owner Kyung “KK” Kim says. 

While the newly opened Kura Revolving Sushi Bar doesn’t quite share the same intimate ambiance (the Plaza restaurant offers over one hundred and forty menu items), it’s certainly bringing something new to KC’s dining scene. The California–based sushi chain serves sushi rolls via conveyer belt and drinks by a robot named Kura-B.

According to the Kansas City Star, Kura already has KC buzzing with excitement – there was a line out the door on Kura’s Dec. 22 opening day. Prefer to avoid the line? Kura’s publicist, Brittany Kiker, suggests downloading the restaurant’s app to get in line virtually and reduce your wait time.

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