WARM- WOODY- ZEN- UNDERSTATED- VEGETABLE -JAPANESE
PRICE- EXPENSIVE $$$
VIBE- QUIET COOKED JAPANESE
Down a small set of stairs on a quiet street in New York’s East Village is a kyoto style Japanese restaurant that serves traditional Kyoto style Japanese in a quiet, tranquil, rosewood coloured room.
The staff are very welcoming, all Japanese and makes it feel like a family run restaurant.
The dishes are good for sharing and can be ordered ala carte, but also have kaiseki Chef’s menus for $95, $120 or $150.
We went ala carte starting with a very lightly Pickled Melon which was very underwhelming.
The fresh “Kyo-Ya” Salad- seasonal julienne vegetables with house dressing ($18) had large seared pieces of thick sashimi and was generous in size. It had asian flavours with bonito flakes and little invigorating japanese herbs.
One of the most interesting dishes was the Seafood Shutoan scallop, blue shrimp and king crab with cured bonito sauce ($16) which seemed to bathed in a raw egg yolk sauce. The texture was gooey, sticky and coated the sweet, raw seafood. I enjoyed it, but it definitely is only for those that are adventurous.
Probably the most delicious dish was a special of Sweet and Dark Miso Baked Eggplant. It was interesting to taste the difference in Miso flavours. This dish was warm, salty, gooey and made vegetables feel like an absolute treat.
The Ebi Shinjo bite sized shrimp mousse balls and vegetables in thick broth ($16) were a bizarre little dish of foamy “shrimp balls” that were lightly fried, with stir fry vegetables (asparagus, water chestnut, mushrooms, baby corn) and crispy rice cracker bits all in a shallow mild shrimp gravy. Texturally bizarre; reminded me if I had asian take-out leftovers and couldn’t be bothered to make rice so sprinkled rice crackers on it.. Not quite there yet..
The Sagoshi & Kinoko Nabe is a Hot pot with spanish mackerel and assorted mushrooms in broth ($23) that continues to boil at the table above a candle burner and is simply clean and satisfying. Like something you would eat to rejuvenate yourself if tired or sick, this loving, mild broth has delicate tofu, fresh mackerel, mushrooms (of all shapes and varieties) and baby bok choy. Shared between two it almost feels ritualistic.
The tasty, Jidori Inaka Miso miso marinated grilled organic chicken with sansho pepper ($16) was more yummy than it looked because it had a strong flavour of lemongrass which made it much more complex than a miso marinade.
OVERALL – Kyo Ya is an interesting experience where you feel the grace and warmth of another side of Japanese cuisine. I think it is a bit overpriced and perhaps I am not an expert in Kyoto cuisine, but some of the dishes, however interesting, seemed clumsy. Great for vegetarians who want to have a more interesting choice.
OMOSHIROI 面白い “Sweet and Meaty”