Restaurant Review: Kin by Rice n Roll in Downtown Tosa

Tosa’s Kin by Rice n Roll expands on the already wide focus of its East Side sibling.

Rather than feeling like the junior-size, less urbane younger brother of Rice n Roll, a popular East Side Japanese spot, Tosa’s Kin by Rice n Roll is the hip, modern little sib in a shiny new development. The interior contrasts with its older sibling’s lively orange with relaxing, clarity-seeking shades of blue and gray. It has, based on early visits, Rice n Roll’s quality with a little more chutzpah and timeliness. For instance, the cucumber salad ($5), a common and simple Japanese dish, is laced with a potent pickling vinaigrette that makes a startling counterpoint to the mildness of sashimi.

Pickling may seem minor, but it’s among the techniques Kin is using in more applications, along with ingredients like the unexpected bacon.

The menu covers considerable ground, including appetizers from the sushi bar like “dip dip” (choose a ceviche made from one of three kinds of raw fish, $10) or from the kitchen (crispy calamari, $8; bao buns, $7-$8; and good, tender gyoza pan-fried dumplings, $6).

The list of maki rolls is beyond extensive, whether it’s a simple, well-made spicy tuna roll ($7) or the flamboyant and saucy Hot on the State, which attacks the taste buds with soft-shell crab, cream cheese, avocado, jalapeño, seared spicy tuna, spicy mayo and a thick, soybased unagi sauce ($15). It’s in this elevated maki area where the ingredients are especially playful (pumpkin seeds, bacon jam, curry mayo, black rice).

After six months of trial and error, the chefs created a version of ramen, and while they’re not aiming for tradition, the creamy bone broth-based tonkotsu ($13) is delicious in and of itself – thick with braised pork belly, fresh egg noodles, nori, wood ear mushrooms and soft-boiled egg.



Kin by Rice n Roll


Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner


Chef specialties $13-$16; ramen $12-$13; rice bowls/donburi $6-$22


Quick, very friendly






7484 W. State. St., Wauwatosa

Just like at its brother, Kin devotes menu space to Thailand. Chef/co-owner Tony Koraneekit, a native of Bangkok, came to the United States for the first time in 1991, then flitted back and forth for the next 14 years or so after cooking at his aunt’s restaurants in New York and Chicago. His curries are stellar – rich, creamy and nuanced.

I particularly shine to his red curry ($12), to which I add flaky roti (Indian flatbread, $1.25) as a pastry like side. And it sounds like it would be simple, but finding a pad thai that isn’t too wet and has a balance of sweet-sour and salty-spicy is a difficult task. Kin has mastered it, and with gently pan-fried tofu ($10), it seems surprisingly light. More of these simple Thai street foods will be rolled out as time goes on. Rice n Roll has enriched the local melting pot for Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisines, and Kin’s arrival makes that pot even richer.

Hot on the State maki roll. Photo by Chris Kessler.
Red curry. Photo by Chris Kessler
Assorted sashimi. Photo by Chris Kessler.

“Fish Tales” appears in the November 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.