Kingyo

Freshly grated wasabi

Please see my updated post for Kingyo here.

Restaurant: Kingyo Izakaya
Cuisine: Japanese/Izakaya/Fusion/Eclectic/Tapas
Last visited: October 23, 2009
Location: Vancouver, BC (Robson Street/West End/Downtown)
Address: 871 Denman Street
Transit: NB Denman St FS Haro St
Price Range: $20-30+ (Closer to $30+)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 5.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 5

Additional comments:

  • Japanese owned/operated
  • Funky Japanese tapas
  • Sister restaurant Suika
  • Award winning
  • Very popular/busy
  • Named “Best Casual Japanese”
  • Modern/posh/lively atmosphere
  • Daily fresh sheet
  • Sushi/sashimi bar
  • Good for drinks/snacks
  • Good for sharing
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Extensive drink list
  • Higher priced
  • Reservations highly recommended
  • Mon-Sun Lunch 11:30am-3pm
  • Mon-Sun Dinner 5:30pm-11:30pm
  • Fri.-Sat. – 5:30pm-1am

**Recommendation: Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, daily sashimi specials, Sockeye Salmon Carpaccio, Pressed Mackerel Sushi

Kingyo is one of my favourite Izakaya places in Vancouver – and we have a lot to chose from. The quality of food is up there and the service is lively with the staff greeting you from the moment you walk in. It has a contemporary Japanese atmosphere, energetic staff, and funky menu. They offer homemade sauces, pay attention to detail and offer presentation.

I’ve been here a bunch of times and have tried pretty much every item on the standard menu. However there’s always something new to feature on their daily fresh sheet that includes chef’s recommendations and daily/seasonal specials. I have yet to be disappointed and it’s a solid choice for Izakaya.

Although it’s an izakaya place and not a sashimi place they had excellent quality sashimi and served it with freshly grated wasabi.

On the table:**Ahi Tuna Carpaccio – 6/6

  • Thinly sliced ahi-tuna and avocado over Japanese radish topped with garlic chips, kaiware radish wasabi mayo and soy based dressing $9.80
  • Take your taste buds on a journey! This dish is amazing and one of my favourites.
  • The texture is perfect and it’s so finely executed and delicate to eat with beautiful colours too.
  • Everything is finely sliced – the avocado and tuna the same size, and the veggies finely shredded and also the same size.

  • Nothing is overwhelming because the ratio of all the ingredients is spot on.
  • It’s a very refreshing dish from all the fresh veggies and you still get a little creaminess from the avocado and tuna.
  • There’s different types of crunchiness from the veggies, garlic chips (way better than croutons), and masago so it’s almost like a salad.
  • The dressing aids to the freshness – it’s served with a tangy and citrusy vinaigrette and a wasabi mayo that gives the dish a slight kick.
  • The Japanese radish sprouts also give it a slight spiciness.

**5 kinds of Sashimi – 6/6

  • Scallop, local shrimp, local sockeye salmon, hamachi (Yellowtail tuna), ahi tuna
  • The 5 kinds of sashimi are chef’s choice and it changes seasonally according to what is available.
  • I was very impressed with the sashimi at Kingyo.
  • They have a small selection of sashimi so you can guarantee it is fresh and it was high in quality. Just look at it! It’s beautiful!

  • The cutting technique was great and it showed chef’s knife cutting skills.
  • It’s bite-size, how it should be, and each fish is cut differently to bring out maximum flavour.
  • He uses proper technique to cut the fish so that you get to taste not only the flavour but the texture of it too. The salmon just melts in your mouth.
  • The shrimp was sweet and naturally slimy. The scallops are served with a dollop of mixed caviar which gives it a salty bite bringing out the scallops natural flavour; as well as for presentation.

    Yellowtail “Japan” sashimi and Ahi-Tuna “Hawaii” sashimi

Ahi-Tuna Hawaii6/6

  • It’s cut in cubes and on a slight diagonal like it should be.
  • The flavour is outstanding and all it needs is a little wasabi to open up the palate.
  • It’s firm, hearty, and almost meaty in texture and flavour.
  • This was the only one that was not as fresh as it should be.
  • Don’t get me wrong – you won’t get sick from it or anything, but it did’t seem day-of fresh, but still excellent.

Yellowtail “Japan” 6/6 versus Hamachi (Yellowtail)4.5/6

  • I took a photo so you can see the difference between Yellowtail “Japan” (the lighter coloured one which we ordered separately), and Hamachi, also Yellowtail, but not from Japan (came on the 5 kinds of sashimi boat).
  • The Yellowtail “Japan” wins hands down, and at $13.50 it should.
  • It’s firmer and has this rich buttery flavour.
  • It has a higher fat content and therefore more flavour. It’s delicious!

Sizzling Stone Sea Urchin Bibimbap3/6

  • Sea urchin, salmon caviar, prawn, squid, & mixed seasonal veggies on premium Koshi Hikari rice served in a stone bowl.
  • This is a Japanese spin on a very popular Korean rice bowl the “bibimbap”.
  • They serve it in a very hot stone bowl and the server does the mixing for you at the table.
  • He shows you what you’re getting and then does the mixing.
  • They press the rice to the sides of the bowl so it can crisp up.
  • The longer you wait to eat it the crispier it gets and the better it is.

  • The texture is a little gummy and slimy from the sea urchin and the saltiness is a fishy saltiness (from the sea urchin and salmon caviar).
  • They used green onions, Enoki mushrooms, celery and water chestnuts to give it crunch which it really needed.
  • None of these ingredients really have flavour though so I found it a bit bland.
  • I understand if they want to show off the natural flavour of the sea urchin, but it was a big bowl of rice and it needed something extra.
  • Still good, but compared to the other dishes there is better. I would also prefer the Korean bibimbap to this although apples and oranges.

Tako-Wasabi (Raw or cooked)4/6

  • Chopped octopus and pickles marinated in wasabi flavoured sauce. Your choice of raw, cooked, or half and half.
  • I ordered it raw, but be prepared for a super slimy dish!
  • This is perhaps the slimiest, gooiest and gummiest dish ever… but it’s supposed to be.
  • It’s really fresh and it’s marinated in its own juices.
  • The pickles and wasabi cut through the sliminess a bit.
  • They use freshly grated wasabi in the sauce and that makes the world of difference.
  • I wouldn’t mind trying it half and half, but I hesitate because octopus can be easy to overcook and it becomes really tough and chewy.
  • Raw octopus is also a delicacy so it seems like a waste to cook it.

It’s served with strips of nori. Eat it like a taco: add a spoonful of chopped octopus and pickles to a sheet of nori and eat.

Grilled Black Cod 5/6

  • Grilled “saikyo miso” marinated black cod.
  • This was good, and it doesn’t look very creative, but it’s quite traditional. The miso sauce on top is not traditional though.
  • Black Cod, or sable fish, is near impossible to mess up so it’s always moist, juicy, and buttery in flavour.
  • The saikyo miso is made of fermented soy beans. The one they used for this fish is a sweet miso gravy.
  • The sauce was a bit chalky – which miso naturally is, almost like a sweet peanut butter, but not as thick.
  • It didn’t really absorb into the black cod, but was more of a condiment. I actually really liked it.
  • The fish was really tender and smooth with a nice crispy skin. It’s marinated first in mirin, sake and miso for additional flavour.
  • I really love sable fish in general and the sauce was really well executed.

Chestnut & Yuzu Gelato2/6

  • Made in house, but it’s not that good.
  • They definitely use the real thing in creating the flavours.
  • The two together were a good balance because the yuzu was light and the chestnut was thicker and creamier.
  • Simply put it tasted like an Asian dessert.
  • Yuzu: a slight licorice taste and you get a hint of lemon peel too. It’s sorbet like.
  • Chestnut: very potent chestnut flavour. It almost tasted like red bean, which I don’t like. A little chalky tasting.

Chocolate Brownie: This was quite disappointing. It tasted like it was made with Splenda sugar. It was really fake and there was no chocolate taste and it was very dry and dense.

Sake-Kasu Tiramisu – 1.5/6

  • I didn’t order it on this visit, but I’ve tried it before.
  • It’s really boozey! You can really taste the sake and it was overpowering.
  • It’s also really rich and creamy and it’s hard to finish the whole thing by yourself.

Complimentary frozen grapes served at the end.

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