Kukai–Tucson, AZ

267 S. Avenida del Convento #11.
Tucson, AZ
(520) 367-5982
Kukai in the Mercado District

Kukai Restaurant’s entrance nestled between modified shipping containers

My introduction to Kukai was part of a discovery that there is a plethora of Japanese restaurants in Tucson–something I was really not expecting in a city that I think is known largely for its Mexican food. I picked Kukai to visit based largely on its menu that seemed to have a number of interesting items, as well as its good reviews. Making a long story short, I was not disappointed.

The patio area seemed to be a popular spot for many people celebrating the end of school

The patio area serving customers of the various eateries and bars in the complex

Kukai turned out to be a takeout restaurant where you can sit at the picnic tables in the Mercado San Augustin, a complex built out of shipping containers which houses several shops, bars, and restaurants. Diners can get Japanese drinks from Kukai or alcoholic ones from the nearby bar. The seating area is covered but the rest of the patio is open air.

The Food

Shrimp tempura curry

Shrimp tempura curry

I was really torn between wanting several items on the menu but I went with Shrimp Tempura Curry. This was my first time trying Japanese curry and all I can say is that I hope ones I have in the future are as delicious as this. It was a non-spicy reddish-brown colored vegetarian curry that was full of flavor. Shrimp tempura topped it off for a dish I really liked. The menu states that they do have spicy dishes but I was happy with one that tasted Japanese and which I had not tried before.

Compared to other tempura dishes I have tried this was on the crispy side. The shrimp was good quality.

The hot green tea was served in a paper cup that could be taken to the outdoor seating area. I thought it had a good flavor and maintained a good temperature.

Overall Assessment
I thought this was high quality food which made me want to return for other items. I don’t know if I would want to sit in the outdoor seating area during the daytime in the middle of the summer but it looked as if evening was the time most people came here. A number of people brought their dogs, so this seems to be another attraction of the restaurant. I would say that the helpfulness of the employees is one as well.

Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon.
Most Recent Visit: May. 4, 2024
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Japanese Curry, Shrimp Tempura


Asian Food Details
Tea: Hot green tea (bags); milk tea is also available
Buffet: No


Special Ratings
star 5 Shrimp Tempura Curry

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