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story by Shaila Creekmore, photo by Beth Bright

When Timothy and Susan Pan decided to open Kimono Japanese Steak House in Downtown Jonesboro, their vision was to create a space that would blend historical and modern touches of Japanese culture, creating a unique and visually appealing space in the new corner restaurant.

Longtime owners of a Chinese restaurant in the same space, the Pans purchased the building at the corner of S. Main Street and E. Huntington Ave. in 2011and moved Dragon City Chinese to a new space next door. The couple worked with contractors for six months to renovate the space for Kimono.

The Jonesboro location merges the brick and wood of the downtown space with LED lights, a waterfall fountain at the front entrance and other subtle touches of Asian flair.

“In the Japanese culture, they use a lot of squares and water in their designs,” said Susan. “We wanted to do a pond with fish, but didn’t have the space. We can’t do a big pond, so we thought a waterfall would be perfect there. Jonesboro doesn’t have a modern LED restaurant. We think it’s a nice touch.”

Kimono features several eating areas for individuals and large parties. In the front section of the restaurant, the sushi bar has a small amount of seating on the right, with additional tables on the left on the lower level and above on the mezzanine.

“The seating on the mezzanine is very high; I think it’s a detail that makes it look very pretty,” said Susan.

The center section of Kimono has four hibachi grills for guests to gather round to be entertained and enjoy dinner together. A party room is located at the rear of the restaurant for parties and is also equipped for karaoke. Guests are welcome to order any items off Kimono’s menu, whether they are sitting at a table, sushi bar or hibachi grills.

The hibachi grill is a basic of any Japanese steakhouse and is one of the key differences that make it distinctive from other Asian cuisine. Friends, family and oftentimes strangers gather around the hibachi grill to watch as the chef entertains the table while he prepares their meal. Favorites from the hibachi grill are steak, shrimp and filet mignon. Other available items are vegetables, calamari, chicken, salmon lobster and scallops, all served with soup, salad, fried rice and shrimp (with the exception of the vegetable plate). The meat items can also be ordered in combinations.

“We have a very good hibachi chef; he has a lot of experience,” said Susan.
Another big draw to the restaurant is its large selection of sushi and sashimi items. Kimono’s sushi chef has more than 35 years of experience and can make recommendations to diners as to what they may like to try. Susan said they have found that customers at the Jonesboro location are more experienced sushi eaters than at their location in Paragould.

“They know how to order and they know what they want, but in Paragould they are still learning,” said Susan. “We can recommend sushi that is already cooked. (Raw sushi versus cooked sushi is) about half and half here. More people order cooked in Paragould.”

Among Kimono’s large selection of items, Susan said a few favorites are the mango shrimp roll, which is shrimp tempura, spicy crab, avocado and mango wrapped in soy paper; the spicy girl, which is pepper tuna, avocado on the inside with spicy salmon on the outside, garnished with hot sauce and wasabi tobiko; and the Kimono sushi dinner, which is three pieces of each tuna, salmon and yellowtail, served with a California roll. Sushi can also be ordered a la carte.
A number of items are also available on the appetizer menu, including calamari, shrimp tempura, beef negimaki and edamame, all of which are popular choices at Kimono.

Many of the restaurant’s favorite items are available on the lunch menu, and a selection of bento boxes is available on both the lunch and dinner menus.
Since opening in March, the Pans have been working to let diners know that after the long renovation, they are open and ready to bring Japanese cuisine to Downtown Jonesboro.

“A lot of people still don’t know about us or that we’re open,” said Susan. “We’ve been working to get the word out with advertising like in Occasions, and we recently had billboards put up around town. We want people to come in and try it; we think they’ll like it.”

The Pans’ downtown space also includes four rental lofts above their two restaurants. They said they are considering expanding Kimono into the upstairs space if the Japanese steakhouse does well.

“Downtown is going and growing and (restaurants owners) are trying to make specialty restaurants that people can come down here to enjoy,” said Susan. “We wanted to make Kimono a high-class restaurant for couples to come to or for families to enjoy.”

Kimono Japanese Steak House, located at 300 S. Main Street, Suite A, is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m., on Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 11 p.m., on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. For more information, call 931-3388.