Located on a quaint little street in the heart of the Mother City in Gardens, Kyoto is a calm, cool and welcoming little spot that both Jeanne and I can see ourselves visiting time-and-time again. Seeing as neither of us have visited Kyoto before, our first impressions are so very easy to express, and our experience so easy to put down in words.
On arrival, we were welcomed in with open arms and a big smile and shown to our seat in the light and airy space. The ceiling is home to beautiful wooden Japanese fans, the shutters open right out on to the street letting a warm breeze fill the space and there is a distinct sound of a waterfall that makes the space feel tranquil.
First up, we had the opportunity to order a drink and both Jeanne and I chose cocktails – obviously, we are cocktail obsessed. I chose the Green Tea Destiny (A zesty drink incorporating aromatic Japanese green tea, a squeeze of fresh lime, Sake, Premium London dry Gin and a splash of lemonade), and Jeanne opted for the Dirty Ninja Saketini (In this signature drink, Japanese Sake is muddled with fresh cucumber, finely sliced and dried nori, as well as a dash of sweetened rice wine vinegar. This is mixed into a blend of Stolichnaya vodka and Tanqueray Gin, which completes this amazing Martini.), both of which were refreshing and perfectly suited for a hot summer’s eve.
So, the six course menu that Jeanne and I had the opportunity to try is new, and consists of six well-put together dishes that each pack a punch. The first course is Tuna Tartare, which was mind blowing. The texture was unlike anything I have ever tasted in a tartare (which means it was not slimy), and was seasoned with wasabi which gave it a deliciously, subtle spicy kick that tingled my taste buds. The portion is also very reasonable, which is so nice, especially with a dish like this that is so moreish.
Next up was the Seasweed Salad. The only time I have ever had sea weed is when it’s wrapped around sushi, so this was a whole new experience for me. Additionally, when it was put down in front of us, we were surprised with some tasty and super fresh salmon sashimi. Our eyes almost popped out of our head we were so excited. I can also tell you that my first seaweed experience was exceptional! It was soft, tasty and really complimented the selection of mushrooms and salmon.
The third course was the Small Chef Creation of Sushi, Sashimi and California Roll (which included: tuna, salmon, prawns and linefish). I love sushi. I have a deep-to-the-core love for all sushi and am willing to try it all. So when the Little Chef Creation platter was put down in front of us, we were already staring each other down to say, “so, what do you want? and what can I have?”. However, being the civilised grownups that we are, there wasn’t much fighting! I can say, without hesitation, that it’s some of the best sushi I have had in the Mother City. Plus, the fact that it was complimented with fresh strips of ginger (not the pink stuff you get everywhere else) really did it for me.
Now, I was expecting to be absolute stuffed by course four. Let’s be honest, I have a very small apatite and eat very small portions, but to my surprise, every portion was perfectly sized and I was still rearing to go by course four, which was Vegetable Tempura. Some of the veg included carrot, courgette and green beans, all of which were crunchy and delish. They were accompanied with soya sauce for dipping – yum!
My fave course of the whole meal has to be course five, Ramen Noodles with Prawn. Wow, the depth of flavour in the broth combined with soft and succulent prawns and ramen noodles blew the both of us away. I have never tasted Ramen quite like this one and, being Jeanne’s first taste of Ramen, she was left speechless. Both of us clean our bowls and wished there was more. I am still having dreams about it guys, seriously.
Last but not least, course six, which consisted of White Sesame Seed ice cream. Now, sesame seeds are not for everyone, and both Jeanne and I were a bit hesitant about this course, however, we were ready to give it a go. When it arrived, the two delicious scoops ended up being the perfect end to a perfect meal. The ice cream tasted exactly like toasted sesame seeds and had a very strong taste that was fresh and ideal for a hot summer’s night.
Now, there were two extra experiences that made our evening absolutely magical that I have not talked about yet. But I have saved them until last! Jeanne and I had the freaking amazing opportunity to try real wasabi. Yes, that’s right, the stuff in the tube that can be found in the shops and the other green pastes that accompany our sushi at other restaurants is not, in fact, real. I can say this is true because Kyoto is the only place in South Africa that imports real wasabi guys, and it’s worth ordering a side of when you go. Our lovely waitress brought it over and ground the wasabi root against a shark skin tool that created a fresh wasabi paste – heaven!
The second mind blowing experience was tasting one of the many types of sake on the menu, one warm and one cold, as they can be served both ways! I enjoyed it better cold, while Jeanne liked it better warm, and it definitely blew our socks off – I didn’t know how potent it was! Absolutely fantastic.
Our overall experience at Kyoto was one we will never forget, and one we will be repeating in the near future again (and again). The staff are incredible and so friendly, and make sure that all of their diner’s needs are met, and the food comes so quickly and is of the highest standard you could imagine. We were so impressed. We are still impressed, and we are still raving to everyone we know about how they need to book their table and experience it for themselves! And now I am telling you, wonderful readers, do it!