Great Japanese Kaiseki at Kyo Ya (1* Michelin)
On a recent weekend, D and I had an excellent, multi-course, seasonal kaiseki dinner at Kyo Ya.
This hidden gem, 1* Michelin Japanese restaurant is found in East Village and it’s opened at least six years now. The restaurant does not have a website, any social media channels, and if you want to make a reservation (you need to make one at least 2 days in advance for a kaiseki), it has to be done the old school way — calling them. Even when you arrive at the restaurant, the only sign posted is “Open” and leads you to a stairway to its subterranean entrance with a hostess to warmly greet you.
Our first course Zatsuki was wonderful. A bite of crunchy puffed rice topped with grilled sanma tempered by its slightly sweet marinade. We paired with a delightful Yoshinogawa Ginjo sake throughout the meal. Buttery, silky bodied sake with hints of nuts.
The Sakizuke topped with house made botarga was a unique dish of chilled spaghetti squash, carbonara style. Creamy, slightly crunchy from the squash and the botarga’s punchy seafood flavors made it interesting.
Going along with the theme of fish, the Oshinogi are two slices of tempura tuna and Madai red snapper maki roll. Grease less, delicately crisp rolls that had pronounced flavors of both fish.
The fourth course called Owan was incredibly memorable for the tetsubin mushi soup set in a beautifully rustic iron teapot. Clear and boldly flavored as consommé flavored with Hamo pike eel, Matsutake mushrooms, and onion. I kept thinking to myself I need to have a pot of this everyday, especially in the chilly climes we’re having in New York City.
The Yakimono course is a slice of Amadai tile fish tsubu miso-yaki, Matsuba chive and Satoimo potato. The sweet-salty treatment of the miso marinade was tasty and the chewy, almost mochi-like potato balls gave it an interesting texture to the whole dish.
The Nimono read the most unique dish of the bunch – dried persimmon, fresh persimmon, Ebishimjo agedashi, Dominican pepper and ginko nuts “Kyuju.” It’s a play of textures from the silky, sweet fresh persimmon and the slightly chewier dried persimmon. The various tempura of ground shrimp and tofu mixture was delicious. The mildly spicy Dominican pepper and ginko nuts were good albeit a touch greasier than I expected. The broth was tasty but had a little too much soy sauce for my preference.
Next up was the Tomezakama. A small mound of noodle-shaped, umi-somen seaweed topped with grated, subtly sweet Oroshi Hosui pear and served on the side, dashi vinegar. Clean flavors that would set us up for the climax of the meal.
The eighth course is Oshokuji, a large clay pot containing a generous amount of Maitake mushroom and Jidori Kamadaki rice that our waitress mixed and graciously served us. One the side, we were served a lacquer bowl of salty red miso soup and mouse made daikon radish pickles to accompany our bowl of rice. (It is Maitake mushroom season and the Japanese revere this mushroom like the French and Italian would for truffles.) The miso soup added the needed salinity for the bowl of wonderful mushroom rice and the daikon pickles added a subtle bitter and sweetness.
To finish our meal, the dessert is truly a play on beloved Japanese flavors — matcha green tea, adzuki red bean and hojicha. The cube of matcha green tea and red bean bavarois cake was perfect. Not too sweet, a nice balance of creamy and chunky from the red bean bavorois filling. The hojicha ice cream was great. Toasty, nutty flavors of the hojicha shined on this not too dense ice cream.
This was a great meal. The menu was well thought out (as in the succession of courses made sense). Service was cordial and professional. And since they do offer an a la carte menu, I would stop by again for their other dishes.
To view more photos of this dinner, please CLICK HERE or view the gallery below:
94 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009