Kiki Owner Brings Japanese Convenience To Court Street Plaza

Fresh off a James Beard nomination and a Guy Fieri visit, local chef Hideki Harada has announced his next move.
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Chef Hideki Harada poses in front of his new storefront, Daruma. // PHOTO PROVIDED BY 3CDC

Hideki Harada, chef/owner of the wildly popular College Hill izakaya Kiki and the Findlay Market stall Sen, announced this morning his plans to open a Japanese convenience store at Court Street Plaza. It’s been a whirlwind year for Harada: In January, he and his wife, Yuko, were nominated by the James Beard Foundation as two of the best chefs in the region; in March, Cincinnati Magazine named Kiki the ninth-best restaurant in the Queen City; and last month, Guy Fieri stopped by to feature Harada and Kiki on his iconic Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Harada will open a konbini, a Japanese convenience store, at 31 E. Court Street in partnership with 3CDC. The store, named Daruma, will carry an assortment of authentic items ranging from Japanese household staples like soy sauce and miso to snacks and candy, as well as a variety of grab-and-go items like sushi rolls, bento boxes, onigiri, and even beer and sake to-go. It will also have a hot water dispenser for tea and instant cup noodles.

It’s the latest in a long line of success for Harada. A Cincinnati resident since childhood, he started as sushi chef at popular Kenwood restaurant Embers before taking a detour to Osaka, Japan for four years of culinary school, then returning to helm the now-closed Japanese gastropub Kaze as executive chef, and later venturing out on his own with the launches of Kiki and Sen. “So much about the city has changed since Kaze opened,” said Harada in a press release. “Both Downtown Cincinnati and OTR have developed a lot of good energy over the last several years. Court Street has become such an inviting, walkable area—perfect for this type of concept.”

Construction of the space—and its outdoor patio—has already begun, with an opening date planned for this fall.

“Court Street Plaza has continued to grow into more of a dining destination for locals, visitors and businesspeople alike, and we’ve worked really hard to bring a diverse range of food and beverage options to patrons,” said Lindzie Gunnels, Commercial Leasing Manager with 3CDC, in a press release. “Daruma will not only expand the selection of lunch choices, but add the convenience factor of high-quality, ready-made lunches and other authentic Japanese items for folks on the go.”

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