I did some digging around the Kendo UI source code and it turns out that there is a dataBound event.
If I have the following HTML:
And I initialize the dropdownlist like this:
_customers = $(
I can bind to the dataBound event like this and select the desired item:
I've put together an example that you can look at on jsfiddle at: jsFiddle: DropDownList DataBound Event
Hope that helps...
P.S. - If I answered your question, please mark my response as the answer :-)