Inside OTR’s Kaze, Featuring a Refreshed Look and New Menu Items

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Cincinnati-based Thunderdome Restaurant Group purchased Kaze OTR in March and is now rolling out newly redesigned dining areas, a rewritten menu and a separate bar — 36 Chambers Bar — that pays homage to Staten Island Hip Hop royalty the Wu-Tang Clan.

Not much has changed from Kaze's former identity as an upscale Japanese gastropub with a killer happy hour and unrivaled patio, only now Thunderdome — which also owns Bakersfield, The Eagle, CityBird and Currito (to name a few) — is applying the same philosophy to Kaze that has made its other restaurants so successful.

Kaze's front dining room has been redesigned to attract passersby on Vine Street and features unobstructed windows, more lights and high tables to show off the restaurant's beautiful dishes and drinks.

Some new menu items include yakitori, a Japanese-style shish kebob skewering options including tender wagyu skirt steak, king salmon, chicken and scallion and asparagus; the latter transcends any other recipe using the vegetable thanks to the violently hot Thai-sourced coals over which they're grilled.

Sushi, ramen, fried rice, katsu and sashimi are on the menu, along with fluffy buns filled with glazed pork belly, shrimp and deep-fried panko chicken. Kaze's spicy chili dumplings are especially delicious, utilizing the mouth-numbing sichuan peppercorn in such a way that it does not overpower the palate, but adds a wonderfully unique sensation to each bite.

Another new feature on the menu is the ability to order “omakase,” which is a multi-course meal experience designed to take the guesswork out of the menu and gives the restaurant the choice of what is best to bring to the table. This is intended for large parties of six or more and gives everyone the chance to taste a bit of everything.

At the bar you can enjoy a wide selection of draft and bottled beer, sake and sake bombs, wines for any taste and a new cocktail list that includes the formidable Scorpion Bowl, a shareable tiki-style throwback, flaming centerpiece and all. Pitchers of their cocktails are available for the whole table as well.

If you loved Kaze last year, chances are you'll enjoy the new design and direction of the restaurant. Hip Hop fans owe 36 Chambers Bar a visit, as it will turn on a more dance club vibe in the evening, with a live DJ on the scene to ensure the bar ain't nothin' to fuck with.

Kaze and 36 Chambers, 1400 Vine St., kazeotr.com.

| Photos by Hailey Bollinger