I recently visited Kyoto, on Romilly Street in Soho with my Dad and brother after we got fed up of the queues outside of Koya where we had intended on eating for a mid-week, after work meal. Quite a different offering from the popular noodle bar, we opted to try a few different things on the menu and found it to be a great find, in an area where we would usually head to Gerrard St for Cantonese food.
The place is quite small and the tables are all very close together, but in a charming way, rather than just looking cramped, and the staff were incredibly welcoming when we arrived and we were soon seated on a table that ended up being a bit small for the amount we ordered.
We shared seven dishes and found most of them to be superb in quality and flavour – starting with vegetable tempura. Spears of asparagus and long, thin strips of butternut squash were coated in a very light, flavoursome batter, which had a crisp crunch and perfectly cooked vegetables inside – a very good start.
Next came the pork gyoza which were the best I’ve tasted. The delicate dumplings had a really tasty pork filling, and the pastry was quite thick, but was cooked through so avoided that doughy taste that sometimes occurs and they were gorgeously crisp on the outside too. We practically inhaled these, they were gone in moments.
We ordered a crab sushi dish which the waitress had recommended for us, and this was good, although to be honest, I didn’t really feel it was any better than what you can pick up in any branch of Itsu, but I love their sushi so not a problem at all.
Next up came yakitori chicken which was another stand out dish – the chicken was moist and tender and the rich, sticky sweet yakitori sauce was utterly addictive. We had ordered some green vegetables to go alongside this and they were in a very salty dressing so these two dishes complemented each other well.
We also had a seafood noodle dish, which was frankly bland and a real disappointment considering the standard of the rest of the dishes, the seafood was all cooked well and comprised prawns, scallops and some squid, the noodles just had hardly any flavour at all, which was a shame.
Now I simply find it impossible to enter a Japanese restaurant that has a chicken katsu curry on the menu and not indulge – I love this dish and so does my Dad so naturally we went for this too and were delighted with the curry. The panko-coated chicken was perfectly cooked and the mild, but creamy curry was delicious – a great dish all round, if a little predictable of us to order it, but it’s just such a warming and comforting dish it’s too hard to resist.
The service was impeccable, and the bill was around the £100 mark which included several Asahi’s each, so quite reasonable. Kyoto is a place I’d been past lots of times and never thought about trying it – but now we’ve found it, I’m certain we will go back again and again.