Kyoto wins tastiest food award at first annual Taste of Heath

By J.J. Smith. Kyoto Japanese Steak House was selected as the restaurant which served the tastiest food at Tuesday evening’s “Taste of Heath,” held at Heath High School to raise funds to battle domestic, dating, child and pet abuse across Rockwall County.

Kyoto received 20 of the 90 votes cast, earning their award by serving their teriyaki chicken, fried rice and spring rolls.

Taco Casa finished second with 13 votes after serving tacos and cinnamon chips.

Culver’s finished third with 11 votes for their frozen custard (ice cream).

Over 100 people attended the first-time event, at which 14 restaurants participated. Six other restaurants which had committed did not attend.

A net profit of nearly $1,000 was raised for educational presentations to be used in local media and schools, according to J.J. Smith, president of the Rockwall-based Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation which organized and hosted the event.

“We’re very honored to receive the award,” said Tom Mach, co-owner of Kyoto, which has locations in Rockwall on the I-30 feeder road at Horizon Rd. and on Lake Ray Hubbard on the Rowlett side of the Highway 66 bridge. “We had a lot of fun!”

Smith called the event a win-win for everyone. “For just $10 per adult and $4 for children, 5-12, local residents were able to eat their fill of many delicious foods prepared by 14 local restaurants,” he said.

“Local restaurants received increased exposure and the chance to showcase some of their specialties. Families and friends spent time together while sampling great food. Plus, the event raised money for an important non-profit which is helping the County to prevent and end the serious problems of domestic and child abuse. The concept is definitely a win-win for everybody involved.”

Buffalo Creek resident Barry Brundage, who brought his wife, two children and two missionaries from his church, seemed to agree.

“I can’t eat another bite! It’s very good,” he said.

Rockwall resident Joanna Ernst Reynolds enjoyed the event so much that while she was there she used her iPhone to text a message on Facebook that read, “At Taste of Heath at Rockwall-Heath High School. Come on over! It’s great!”

Palio’s Pizza Café owner Lilla Schwartz said they also enjoyed the event. “It was great exposure for us. We had a very good time,” she said. “We enjoyed tasting all the different food items from the local restaurants and look forward to doing it again next year. I hope we gained a few new customers!”

The restaurants served a wide variety of samples from their menus:

Black-Eyed Pea served chicken sliders.

Blue Canyon Kitchen served gaspacho with crab meat and toast.

Buffalo Wild Wings provided three flavors of chicken wings.

Burger House served hamburgers and fries.

Chicken Express provided iced tea.

Chipotle provided chips and guacamole.

Culver’s served frozen custard with a choice of three toppings.

Domino’s Pizza offered assorted slices of pizza.

Kyoto provided teriyaki chicken, fried rice and spring rolls.

Milano’s Italian served assorted slices of pizza, spaghetti and chicken fettucine alfredo.

Palio’s Pizza Café served assorted slices of pizza.

Pizza Getti offered assorted slices of pizza, lasagna and spaghetti.

Schlotzsky’s served sandwiches & chips.

Taco Casa provided tacos and cinnamon chips.

Although most restaurant owners said they had hoped that more people would attend, Smith said there seemed to be a consensus that the event was well-enough organized and had great potential so that all eateries would return again next year and help make it an annual event.

“We learned some valuable lessons so it will be much easier to host in the future,” he said.

He added that their organization was very thankful to the Rockwall ISD and Heath High School staff members who helped their organization to schedule, organize and host the event.

“We really appreciated everyone’s help. We couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.

“We’re extremely thankful to the Rockwall Walmart Supercenter because they provided nearly 1,000 bottles of water, plus all the plates, napkins and utensils.”

The non-profit Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation is Northeast Texas’ largest network of abuse survivors, victims, family and friends, professionals, legislators and other concerned citizens campaigning in media, schools and communities to dramatically reduce injuries, save lives, ensure quality care, plus persuade and empower people to finally bring an end to domestic, dating, child and pet abuse.

Local Board and Advisory Council members include Texas State Senator Bob Deuell; Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper; Rowlett Mayor John Harper and his wife, Debra Harper; Dallas Morning News Neighbors Go Editor Dawn Redig and Texas “Superlawyer,” legal columnist and Rockwall Bar Association president John Browning.

Proceeds from the Taste of Heath will be used to help prepare educational presentations for local schools and promote their upcoming Lillian Smith “Race To End Abuse” 5K/Walk, Nov. 13, at Rockwall-Heath High School.

For more information, call J.J. Smith at 214-317-1718 or visit

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