uy Fieri has been “rolling out” in search of America’s best restaurants for years—and he’s highlighting a beloved Cincinnati spot.
College Hill Japanese restaurant Kiki will soon be bestowed with of the greatest honors a casual eatery can have—being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Owners Hideki and Yuko Harada met at culinary school in Osaka, Japan and have navigated the culinary industry together ever since. Kiki is an izakaya-style restaurant, serving dishes similar to Japanese bar food. After spending time working in high-end restaurants, the Haradas decided that they wanted to open their own space in September 2019.
Adored locally for years, the national spotlight turns to Kiki with its feature on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Friday, August 18, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network. With its delicious ramen and other delectable Japanese dishes like curry pan all made from scratch, it’s no surprise that Fieri’s red Camaro stopped by.
Harada says he was slightly uncertain when the show first reached out, but after some convincing from a friend, the whole process got underway in a flash. “The homework was pretty intense,” he says. Harada had one week to submit everything before filming the week after. “There was a pretty hectic couple of weeks there. When all was said and done, it was a blast.”
Preparation for filming was thorough, involving lots of cleaning and even changing all of the lightbulbs in the restaurant to get the lighting just right. “I never thought I’d be in that position where I’m acting/cooking in front of that many cameras at the same time, but it was new—it was an experience,” Harada says.
Even though Fieri was only in the restaurant for a couple of hours asking questions and going through the dishes, everyone had a great time. “He’s such a nice guy with how he can just approach anybody, he’s a real professional,” Harada says.
After airing on a popular national program, it’s only natural for business to improve. “I’m sure we’ll see an uptick in business, and that’s a beautiful thing,” Harada says. “I love serving the community and the people here.”
And with the spotlight, Kiki is now part of a larger community. “There are people out there that dedicate themselves to traveling and going to all the places that (Fieri’s) been to (on DDD), so I’m looking forward to meeting those people as well,” Harada says.
Kiki, 5932 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, (513) 541-0381