This story begins one pleasant summer afternoon. My husband and I, always in a quest for great outdoor dining and acting on a tip from one of his foodie co-workers, visited Maido for the early-bird specials and loved it. I heard soon after that it had closed…owner Toki Masabuchi had too much on her plate (ha! I’m so good with puns) and was concentrating on her place in the Highlands, Dragon King’s Daughter. Ever since then, DKD has been on my to-do list.
A lot of things happened during this visit to cloud my judgment regarding the food and service. It was the opposite of the “stars aligning”.
First, there was a little girl roaming the restaurant. When we arrived there was only one table seated, then we and another party came in so I know she didn’t belong to any of them. The only employees I saw were two young men working as servers and she didn’t appear to belong to them, either. Our poor fellow was trying to explain the finer points of the beer selections to my husband when the mystery child began talking to him, interrupting his pitch. He tried to politely redirect the little girl’s attention elsewhere but eventually had to simply ignore her and talk louder so we could hear him.
Next, a party came in with a toddler in tow. This child let loose with three different screaming episodes during our meal. (I am not anti-children as I have four myself…I just believe in stricter boundaries I guess.)
Meanwhile the kitchen is not processing any orders. Why, you ask? Because the ticket printer was unplugged therefore they didn’t know they had customers waiting on food. To their credit, the kitchen sent out edamame to all three tables that had been affected.
My husband is still wearing his coat because it’s about 50 degrees in the place.
We sat there for over 30 minutes before we got our food. I was becoming increasingly frustrated. Trying to save my wine (a light, crisp, wonderful Raventos Perfum di vi Blanc from Spain) for the meal…listening to the screaming toddler…wondering why the edamame is served cold… Is that normal? I’ve ordered those fun soybean pods many times and always been served a hot dish.
My geeky side shows when I try a new restaurant. I read the website in advance to determine a) if I really want to go there and b) make preliminary food decisions. When I arrive at the place, I study the menu like a high school senior studies for the English final when she is teetering on failing the class. I read it several times over, narrowing down the options with each pass. Several things peeked my interest at DKD. The Asian BBQ Beef sounded good in a quesadilla or as tacos. Anything shrimp has a good chance of making the cut so I was liking the tempura shrimp tacos. The Pesto Chicken Katsu looked yummy as well. Since it was freezing cold, I was not in the mood for sushi as I see that as a light, summery food.
I like that you can customize your tacos with 3 toppings and 1 sauce. Nice! I chose the Shrimp Tempura Tacos which came with avocado and mango chili sauce ($11). I added cabbage for crunch, jalapenos for heat, and cilantro because I am borderline obsessed with it. I kept the mango chili sauce believing that the sweet and heat would be delicious together. My husband ordered the Kimchee Beef Tacos with cabbage, green onion, cilantro, and habanero sauce ($8.50). He also ordered a Citrus Heat sushi roll ($12) for us to share.
The presentation is beautiful. So much color – green from the cilantro and jalapenos…orange mango chili sauce…roasted red pepper and lime on the roll. Once I got an eyefull, I couldn’t wait to dig in. The tacos are generously portioned with the proteins. My shrimp were crispy and along with the cabbage provided crunchy texture. Unfortunately, the jalapenos weren’t packing much heat so I had nothing to offset the sweetness of the yummy mango chili sauce. My husband suggested I try the habanero sauce. I cautiously added a few bits of the sauce to my taco because he was exhibiting signs of minor distress after applying a good bit of it to his own taco. It was just the ticket! I would definitely order these tacos again.
As for the citrus heat roll, I felt the roasted red pepper was just too darned big and it overpowered the other ingredients so I skillfully removed it with my environmentally-friendly reusable chopsticks and replaced the lime slice back on top each slice I ate. The lime slice was slightly too strong and we were not getting any heat from the jalapeno or the hot sauce rolled up inside. But, as I’ve said before, pepper heat is a gamble with those inconsistent jalapenos.
My husband enjoyed his tacos with the addition of the habanero sauce, but I was not impressed with the flavor. With kimchee in the name, I expected a pickled, acidic flavor but detected none. It seemed boring compared to what I ordered so I won’t be choosing kimchee beef for myself.
Service was good after the mishap with the printer was discovered and remedied. Our server was very knowledgeable about the drinks and the menu offerings. Prices are reasonable with most dishes running about $10. I would suggest you come with a friend who likes to share so you can order several items among the party. The decor leaves something to be desired – very sparse – but people-watching out the large front windows is fun.
I saw a few tables order the fried wonton appetizer and I definitely want to try those next time. The nachos also looked good when they were carried by me to another table. I saw one of the quesadillas - it covered more than half the real estate on the dinner plate.
I had high expectations which were almost met. The concept of fusing Asian and Mexican cuisines is interesting and tasty. Reserving the right to revise this rating after a second visit, I give DKD 3 out of 5.
Dragon King’s Daughter
1126 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40204