- 1126 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY, 40204
- (502) 632-2444
- Overall User Rating:
- (3 ratings)
- Monday-Wednesday, 3 p.m.-midnight; Thursday-Saturday, noon-midnight; Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
We live in dogmatic and cynical times. Many of us have decided that it’s more comfortable to change the channel than to change our minds. Many others have concluded that persuasion is a lost and useless art, and that changing minds is either impossible or just plain wrong.
And yet there is hope. Occasionally, even the most stubborn of folks can be seen entertaining a new idea.
I witnessed a case just recently at Dragon King’s Daughter, Toku Masabuchi’s 2-year-old Japanese-American fusion restaurant in the Highlands. Masabuchi first earned the admiration of sushi lovers several years ago, when she started producing innovative rolls in the back-room kitchen of the much-missed Bardstown Road Seafood Connection. Then she leapt to prominence as the owner-chef at Maido in Clifton (where, by the way, she’s officially re-taking the reins this fall).
With Dragon King’s Daughter, in a spacious room with broad windows that look out on Bardstown Road, she found new ways to express her command of color, texture and flavor by applying essentially Japanese ideas and aesthetics to a palette of ingredients that encompasses everything from buttery slices of toro salmon to spicy Mexican-style chorizo, smoky slivers of eel to spicy Korean-influenced ground beef. And she exercised her prerogative to present those ingredients in forms as diverse as traditional Japanese makizushi rolls and crunchy quesadillas.
A person could spend a lot of time at Dragon King’s Daughter without ever crossing the line between, say, sushi and tacos. And at the outset of a recent visit, my famous stubborn companion proclaimed in no uncertain terms that she was interested in only one thing: sushi. And the sushi was excellent — not least because we were there at happy hour (3-6 p.m. Monday-Sunday, 10 p.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday), when beers, wines and sakes are discounted, and when a generous assortment of rolls is available at bargain prices that run $4-$11.
So we started with rolls. For a study in contrast, we opted for the Frosty Sunbeam ($7 at Happy Hour, $10 during regular dining hours) and Sarah Said ($8/$11). On the outside the rolls were nearly identical: both finished with gem-like precision in an orange-green cloak of salmon and avocado. But the former was filled with a mix of mango and cream cheese (imagine a salmon-cream cheese bagel plus the sweetness of tropical fruit and the rich smooth texture of avocado); the latter was filled with a tongue-tingling core of red tuna and hot sauce. And both were fabulous.
And my pal was open-minded enough to dip house-fried wonton chips into a big, spicy bowl of wasabi salsa ($6), which features tomato, avocado, mango, jalapeno and a bunch of other ingredients.
But until it arrived , my pal insisted she was not going to touch the next thing: pesto chicken quesadilla ($9). She changed her mind pretty quickly when our smart, friendly server brought it to the table. Anybody would: This particular quesadilla is a crunchy fold filled with succulent chicken breast that has been fried in a mix of panko crumbs and almonds along with an extraordinary green seam of wasabi and basil pesto that pretty much explodes in your mouth like a perfect blend of Asian heat and Italian grace.
A tempura-fried Oreo roll filled with cream cheese and cookie crumbs ($3) didn’t wow us (perhaps it was too virtuously unsweetened for our tastes). But a cocktail made by grating fresh apple into a glass of the Japanese distilled beverage shochu looked and tasted like the best of autumn ($6) and offered a pleasant alternative to the affordable list of wines, sakes and beers.
And if it turns out you have companions obdurately opposed to fusion, never fear: Dragon King’s Daughter offers gyoza, little pot-stickers filled with ground vegetables and drizzled with house-made spinach vinaigrette that are superb, and there enough traditional rolls — like the brilliant Citrus Heat (red tuna, jalapenos, hot sauce, draped with roasted red peppers and thin slices of lime, $8/$11) to satisfy the most devout purist.