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Outgrowing Mountain View space, Kumino searches for new location

Uploaded: Nov 11, 2017
Two years after opening in a Mountain View strip mall, Kumino has outgrown its kitchen.

Owner Haochen Liu said Friday that he tried everything to keep the business going in the small space on Rengstorff Avenue: squeezing in as many tables as possible in the dining room, trying to buy the nail salon next door and seeking permission from the city to expand his kitchen, a request that was denied, he said, because the plaza has a restaurant-use cap that has already been met.

Wait times have become increasingly long, and he's had customers call ahead and decide not to come in given the wait estimate. Complaints about the restaurant's size and waits started appearing on Yelp, Liu said. He also had to forego catering and private party requests, since the kitchen could only accommodate either regular service or the others at one time.

"I couldn't just stay here and do nothing and be satisfied with this size and scale," Liu said.

Kumino owner Haochen Liu, right, and Bryan Leavey, sous chef, stand in the dining room in 2016. Photo by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Weekly.

Liu, a native of China who worked at the three-Michelin-starred Manresa in Los Gatos, opened the Asian-fusion restaurant in 2015. Kumino melded cuisines and the high- and low-brow: smoked-salmon baos alongside traditional pork belly; garlic linguine with spicy chasiu pork; a warm eggplant salad with bell pepper purée and miso butter that Liu created at Manresa. His fusion style is reflected in the name of the restaurant, "which is a Japanese word but also refers to the Italian word for cumin, "cumino."

Liu closed Kumino on Oct. 23. He's looking for a new, larger location in the area, and is hoping to stay close to Mountain View and his loyal, local customers. He said he doesn't want to go any further south than Sunnyvale or farther north than San Carlos.

The new restaurant will be the same concept, but with "more ideas and more seats," Liu said. (He's leaving soon for a month-long trip to China, Japan and Italy to conduct research.)

Liu said customers who want to stay abreast of Kumino's new location should leave a message on the restaurant's Facebook page.

In the meantime, reminisce with this review: Not just another ramen shop

Kumino's seafood ramen: fish broth with shrimp, scallops, salmon, mushrooms and mussels. Photo by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Weekly.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by A Talking Cat, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Nov 11, 2017 at 7:57 am

A Talking Cat is a registered user.

That Chinese restaurant on Castro St has been closed for a decade. Would be a perfect place for an actual, open restaurant. Wonder why the city doesn't institute eminent domain or something...

Posted by Another neighbor foodie, a resident of North Whisman,
on Nov 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm

What would probably be a perfect place for Kumino would be one of the commercial spaces that is currently being constructed next to St. Joseph's Parish on Church and Castro. Too bad that the construction is still ongoing but only if they had finished I'm sure Kumino would have considered moving in this space.

Posted by abigailvr, a resident of Willowgate,
on Nov 13, 2017 at 9:31 pm

abigailvr is a registered user.

The New China Delight location on Castro would be good for Kumino except that it's right next to another Ramen place (Maru Ichi). I will follow Kumino to wherever they end up! I was very sad to see them closed and was afraid it was for good.

Posted by Ellen, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:33 am

What about San Antonio? There is a bunch of vacancy I'm sure at the new Merlone project...

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