A longtime Fort Worth chef has opened a new Japanese “ghost restaurant” on the west side, not far from where he got his start.
Jesus Garcia, the original owner of the Oni Ramen restaurants in Fort Worth and Dallas, on May 25 returned to the Camp Bowie area with Kintaro, a delivery and take-out spot specializing in Japanese cuisine.
Kintaro is located at 6916 Camp Bowie Blvd., just a few blocks from where Garcia made a name for himself as executive chef at Little Lilly Sushi. Before working at Little Lilly, he was a chef at nearby Sushi Yoko.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to open in this area is because I know the neighborhood so well,” he says. “It’s a great area for a place like this, where people can just grab something to eat on the way home, or have it delivered.”
The “ghost restaurant” concept is new for Fort Worth. There is no dining room or storefront. Customers place orders through a third-party app, such as DoorDash or Uber Eats, for pick up or delivery.
“Ghost restaurants are all the rage in cities like Chicago and New York right now,” Garcia says. “It’s a way for chefs to serve food directly to their customers, without having to worry about overhead, which is so much a factor right now, with COVID putting a lot of traditional restaurants out of business.”
Kintaro is an offshoot of Kintaro Ramen, a ramen shop Garcia opened in April in Arlington with business partner Han Le. The Fort Worth store also offers ramen, plus more than a dozen sushi rolls, along with small plates and appetizers.
“The Fort Worth store is everything I have in my bag of tricks,” Garcia says.
His signature maki rolls include the Lazy Panther, made with spicy crab, spicy cream cheese, sweet soy sauce, and panko-crusted avocado; the Rainbow Over Ridglea roll, with citrus crab, yellowtail, and salmon; and the Demon Slayer, made with what Garcia calls “five-alarm” spicy tuna. It’s a play on the super-spicy Reaper Ramen served at Oni.
The classic rolls section of the menu includes cucumber, avocado, and fried shrimp rolls.
The menu also includes three types of ramen, miso, Tonkotsu, and Chintan, and small plates and appetizers, such as a squid salad with edamame and braised pork belly.
Garcia lucked out when he found the space, which was already equipped with a grease trap.
“The original plan was for someone else to open a doughnut shop there,” he says. “And then that fell through. But they had already installed a grease trap. That saved me thousands of dollars.”
Garcia says he’s hoping to open multiple locations of Kintaro.
“More and more people are having food delivered or just picking it up themselves and taking it home,” he says. “It’s a super-convenient way for people to have restaurant-quality food these days.”