Cincinnati’s Thunderdome Restaurant Group is relaunching its recently acquired Japanese restaurant Kaze as Kaze & 36 Chambers Bar, with a gastropub feel, sophisticated refurbishments, a redefined menu, and a separate Wu-Tang Clan–themed bar.
Since purchasing the Over-the-Rhine eatery in March, the Thunderdome team has been hard at work invoking their signature sense of fun and approachability to the establishment, with new patio communal seating, shareable dishes, and the separate 36 Chambers Bar. “We put a lot of time into just thinking how to make this more casual and approachable [and] comfortable, and that’s something that we really strive to do in all our spaces,” Thunderdome Co-founder Joe Lanni says. “This is a space of family, this is a space of community—we really wanted to bring that alive.”
The menu was inspired by izakaya, a casual Japanese pub. In true izakaya fashion, Kaze’s dishes are meant to be ordered over several courses and shared among friends. “The thought behind the new menu was to create a menu that allowed people to come in, enjoy themselves, [and] share things with friends,” says Lanni. “It was really inspired by the izakaya tradition, which is when you go to these little pubs with friends, you have some sake or beer, you order food in rounds—it’s a similar style to that. It really kind of increases that sense of community and friendship, and that’s kind of what we’re all about here.”
Adding to the fun is the separate 36 Chambers Bar, a reference to Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and classic Hong Kong Kung Fu movie, 36th Chamber of Shaolin, paying tribute to the hip-hop supergroup and Kung Fu culture. “We wanted to differentiate the back bar and for it to be its own unique experience. 36 Chambers is more of an upscale cocktail bar, featuring fun, large-format shareable cocktails,” Thunderdome Co-founder Alex Blust says.
Curated by Covington’s BLDG, the bar makes a playful nod to Wu-Tang with decorative accents and a nostalgic ’90s hip-hop playlist. It will host monthly day parties, weekend DJs, and industry nights. “We wanted the space to be a great place for party dining and the name is a subtle nod to the music we enjoy,” Blust says.
The new menu ranges from small plates, like the flavorful full Thaan-charred yakitori skewers, to shareable dishes, such as the multicourse Omakasesampler. Guests will find an array of sushi and fried rice, particularly delicious spicy chili dumplings, and old favorites like the pork belly buns.
Kaze & 36 Chambers Bar will host its official relaunch party Saturday, July 27, with a daylong event featuring drink specials, DJs, and gift card giveaways.
Kaze & 36 Chambers Bar, 1400 Vine St., (513) 898-7991, kazeotr.com