Kyo Ya is one of our absolutely favorite restaurants, but to avoid everyone getting super sick of a million posts about the same restaurant, I will only write if there’s something new or different to share. Today, I had two new discoveries, one regarding seating, and the second regarding ordering.
Seating – We’ve always sat at the chef’s counter, with head chef, Chef Sono Chikara. Directly behind us, is a traditional, semi-private “room”. We’ve never considered sitting in that room, as it appeared as though you’re sitting/kneeling on a cushion, atop bamboo mats. Today, we discovered there’s a hole on the floor beneath the table! So you are actually sitting like a normal person, no seat-back, but at least you’re not kneeling! Well that, I can do! The “room” seats up to 8, but 6 would probably be a whole lot more comfortable. The next time I have a group of 6-8, this will sure be a suggestion!
Ordering – Of all the times we’ve visited Kyo Ya, we’ve never once ordered the omakase. The reason is purely because the omakase is both raw AND cooked dishes. When I go to a place like Kyo Ya, who has a TON of incredibly fresh fish, I want the fish, the RAW fish. I don’t want to waste my stomach space on cooked stuff. Today, we discovered that there are a number of fish that is available only via omakase, not for a la carte ordering. That said, we are exceptional patrons. We are polite, super friendly, super nice. When we love a restaurant, we will frequent it, ordering pretty much every single special there is, liquor up the staff, and to top it all off, boyfriend is a super, duper, uber-tipper. So for extra special patrons like us, Sono-san will make exceptions. Sono-san will not only grace us with the items not on the menu, he also doesn’t charge us for them.
Our dinner tonight:
- West Coast Oysters – Two different kinds of west coast oysters, neither of which we could hear the name. Kyo Ya dresses their oysters with shaved daikon, Japanese spring onion, and a side of ponzu sauce. Their oysters are always big, plump, super sweet, super delicious! Today was no exception.
- Sashimi Plate 1 (always the most spectacular of presentation):
- Santa Barbara UNI – Up until Feb of 2016, you can find quality SB UNI just about every corner you turn. Since then, we’ve been in a major drought. These last few months though, decent SB UNI has been popping up here and there. Not in floods, and nowhere near the quality back in 2016, but decent. This is one of those decent servings. Miles and miles better than Maine, but nowhere near the firm, rich, sweet and nutty SB UNI we used to have. Still very happy though.
- AWABI (Abalone) – Complimentary of Sono-san! This was incredible. Fresh AWABI, wonderful crunch, just delicious.
- KURAGE SUMISO (Fresh Jelly Fish) – Super mild, crunchy goodness! Sono-san provides a miso dipping sauce for this, but I prefer plain old soy…
- AKAMI (Lean Blue Fin Tuna) – YUMMMM. Not a fatty tuna at all, instead a light, still buttery AKAMI, with zero funky tinge/aftertaste, and no chew. So good!
- KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) – Impeccable cut of rich, buttery KINMEDAI. Only wished that chef ABURIed (torched) the skin.
- KAMPACHI (Amberjack) – Super light, fresh, crunchy cut of KAMPACHI.
- Salmon Trout from Scotland – Boyfriend lets me order whatever I want for the both of us. I’m not a huge fan of salmons, thus didn’t order it, but boyfriend is. Lucky for him Sono-san must remembered, and graced us with 2 complimentary servings! I had a small cut of one, and it was very fatty, very good.
- MADAI (Seabream) – Much leaner compared to the KINMEDAI, but delicious in its own rights.
- NAMADAKO (Fresh Octopus) from Hokkaido – Kyo Ya is my favorite place to have NAMADAKO. It’s the perfect thickness that allows you to really enjoy the flavors, while not making it too thick to chew through. Love the pepper salt dressing. Chef Takashi used to be from Blue Ribbon Izakaya, now at Blue Ribbon Sushi, comes in second for this serving. He grills the suction cups, which boyfriend loves, but I prefer non-grilled. And completely unrelated, but Hideo-san, head chef of Ushiwakamaru, is my absolutely favorite for NIDAKO. They are the ONLY place worth having NIDAKO at. It will change your life! No, I’m not being dramatic, it will!
- Sashimi Plate 2
- ISAKI (Grunt fish) – Sono-san actually gave us a complimentary tasting of this mid-way during our first sashimi plate. It was incredible. Best ISAKI ever! We were itching to have a third serving, but we knew we had our don (rice bowl) coming…
- NAMADAKO (fresh octopus) – As we said before, it was amazing, and definitively worthy of round 2.
- AWABI (Abalone) – We tried to order more AWABI, but it wasn’t on the menu, and not available for odering. Sono-san gave us a couple more complimentary cuts though. Thank you Sono-san! Sono-san dressed these with the most gorgeous crystal looking vegetable ever called BlinQ Blossom. It’s a slightly minty, slightly briny, slightly salty, super crunchy little vegetable. I can have a whole bowl of this.
- BOTAN EBI (Spotted sweet shrimp), Santa Barbara UNI, KANI (snow crab), IKURA (Salmon eggs) don – Served with an incredible, mild dashi, this is still my absolute, most favorite don (rice bowl) ever.