KIBO Japanese Dining
Carrying on a tradition of authentic Japanese cuisine
“Kibo means ‘hope’ in Japanese. I named this restaurant KIBO for my hope for the future, hope for the economy of this town, and hope for Japan,” says Norm Takeno of the sushi, steak and seafood Japanese restaurant that he opened in May 2010.
Takeno became involved in the restaurant business in 1990, when at 19 years old he began working as a sushi chef in Japan. He traveled back and forth between the U.S. and Japan until 1997, when he settled here to serve as the general manager of Daisen Japanese Restaurant on Merritt Island. Daisen eventually expanded to a second location on W. Eau Gallie Boulevard, but, for a variety of reasons, closed its doors in 2009. With 21 years of experience, Takeno decided to pick up where Daisen left off, opening KIBO at the Melbourne space Daisen formerly occupied.
KIBO is open for lunch and dinner serving customary Japanese entrees and fresh sushi. Its atmosphere can be described as traditional, comfortable, elegant and intimate, while the staff is welcoming and attentive without being overbearing.
Albeit a staple at many Asian restaurants, KIBO’s chicken teriyaki stands out from the crowd. Preceded by a cup of miso soup and fresh salad, the generous portion of chicken teriyaki (you’ll need a to-go box) is perfectly flavored and served with steamed rice. “We sell lots of teriyaki dishes and hibachi dishes, but also noodle and curry dishes, too,” says Takeno.
Specialty sushi rolls also are a highlight of KIBO, with favorites including the Lobster Roll, Kobe Beef Roll, Super Crunch Roll and King Crab Rainbow Roll. Top the King Crab California Roll with a baked creamy crab mix, and you’ve got the Volcano Roll – another well-liked option. And unlike some sushi spots, Takeno takes pride in the fact that KIBO only uses real fish for its sushi rolls, meaning no imitation substitutes.
“We serve the highest quality for a reasonable price,” says Takeno, adding that the restaurant’s Kobe beef steaks are top-notch as well.
Additional highlights of the menu include vanilla mochi ice cream and green tea ice cream. KIBO also serves over 20 selections of sake, as well as a good wine selection and Japanese and domestic beer. Soon, it will be offering wine and sake tastings.
While the economy has made the take-off of KIBO slower than Takeno would have liked, the restaurateur is charging ahead and looking toward the future with optimism. “We are getting busier. Eventually, we want to open a bigger location with a different concept,” he says, with hope.
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