The first thing to know is that you’re not going to order wrong. The second thing is that if your dining partners will share plates, share plates (see: first thing). Such as the shishito buono, a piled-high plate of roasted shishito peppers—more filling than edamame and heartier than a salad, but just as green—tossed in shaved parmesan and bagna cauda, a warm, rich blend of garlic and anchovies. And the karaage fried chicken, with—and we can’t emphasize this enough—the Jordy mayo. Or the pepe meshi, confit chicken on spaghetti and rice that somehow works, and works so well. And the ramen, certainly the ramen. We went for the shio, with the pork belly and tea-marinated soft-boiled egg, but we will be back for the kimchi, which subs in tofu and its namesake cabbage for the meat.
Beyond the goodness coming out of the kitchen, Kiki has somehow made a fairly minimalist aesthetic wholly comforting (though, in fairness, the ramen might be doing some lifting here). Kiki started as a pop-up at Northside Yacht Club, opening on its College Hill corner in August. And the new digs are all about low-key class: simple wooden chairs and stools, stunning stoneware plates, and delicately papered and water-colored walls. You’ll appreciate the aesthetic even if stopping by for carryout. So order another off the Japanese craft beer list—we loved the Hitachino Yuzu lager—and soak it in.
Kiki, 5932 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, (513) 541-0381