It starts with 49 varieties of sushi rolls and then there are the noodles.
Variety can be a double-edged sword. While customers are often happy with a menu that can satisfy a wide span of tastes and preferences, many restaurants struggle to provide consistent quality when their menus sprawl from page to page to page.
Enter K Japanese Restaurant.
The menu boasts a staggering 49 varieties of sushi rolls (not including their nigiri and sashimi options), and a variety of noodle options (ramen, yaki, wheat soba, and sanuki-udon). Not to mention donburi bowls (including curry, teriyaki, chirashi, and tonkatsu), cha han (Japanese-styled fried rice), as well as a healthy spread of appetizers and desserts.
Oh, and bento boxes, because we’d rather ditch the PB & J brought to the office to snag a beautiful little assortment of miso soup, sushi, salad, tempura shrimp and veggies, and their choice of gyoza, fried tofu, or nigiri.
In a city full of several ramen-exclusive, sushi-exclusive restaurants, owner Howard Kwan chose to compile a menu that resembled a page from a metropolis phone book. When asked why he chose to do so, he revealed a big, excited grin, and said, “I like Japanese food.”
How it began (and snowballed)
K Japanese opened in central Tucson in August of 2015, a labor of love led by Kwan and his family. After working in local sushi restaurants for over a decade, K Japanese was an exciting opportunity for him to materialize his vision in the form of a quiet, family-owned restaurant. For Kwan, the formula for creating the menu was simple: “Everything that we mostly liked, we put on [the menu].”
His desire for K Japanese was to present a selection of dishes that would accommodate all palates, including those not privy to raw fish. He loved the idea that his menu could include tonkotsu ramen, noticing that many sushi restaurants don’t offer ramen. The variety of dishes continued to snowball from there.
For Kwan, compiling their dishes was fueled by his eagerness to include more and more dishes that reflected his fascination and appreciation for Japanese cuisine.
So is K Japanese able to shoulder this burden of Japanese variety, or did they figuratively bite off more than they could chew? While sushi is certainly in the spotlight, potential patrons should delight in their alternate dishes.
From ramen to curry and bento lunch specials
If you’re looking for a flavorful broth and noodles cooked to the perfect degree of tenderness, get the tonkotsu ramen. Their char siu, Cantonese-style sliced pork, is a delightfully tender and juicy companion for any of their noodle dishes.
The donburi bowls have a diversity that’s sure to appease a crowd, especially one of their several curry options. The homemade curry sauce is a winning homage to the Japanese style, which is traditionally thicker and sweeter than its spicier curry siblings. Both of these dishes are commonly listed as customer favorites, in addition to their tonkatsu and little-bit-of-everything bento boxes.
Now back to the star of the show, K Japanese sushi. For the straight-laced traditionalist, they have a range of nigiri and sashimi options, including several tataki variations where the fish is lightly seared before serving.
For the more adventurous, there’s the Mango Mango roll, which features mango, salmon, masago, avocado, and unagi. The most valuable players in this matchup are easily the salmon and mango, which combine richness and sweetness to great effect.
Another knockout is the Bear Down roll (and supposedly Mr. Kwan’s favorite!), featuring shrimp tempura topped with avocado and shredded spicy kani. Then there’s their ominously named Sunrise Demon roll, which features a dangerous cocktail of habaneros topping a roll of shrimp, yellowtail, avocado, masago, and scallops (let’s just say the serving staff was a little too excited for us to try it!).
The menu also includes classic selections, such as the Alaska roll, the California roll, the Las Vegas roll, and the Caterpillar roll. With 49 roll options to choose from, you’re bound to find delicious rolls that tickle your fancy.
Although many businesses in the food and beverage industry are taking the ‘less is more’ approach with tighter, more focused menus these days, it’s a joyous experience to be able to put on a blindfold, throw a dart at a menu, and enjoy a perfectly satisfying meal wherever it may land.
K Japanese is truly one of these locations, as the vastness and diversity of their dishes are a love song to the Japanese cuisine that their owner adores so much.
Hours and location
K Japanese Restaurant, located at 2962 N. Campbell Ave., is open from 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They’re closed from 2:30 – 4 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
If you’re interested in grabbing a bento box before they sell out, swing by for their lunch specials from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, visit kjprestaurant.wixsite.com/home.