871 Denman, Vancouver, BC
Kingyo is a darling Japanese Izakaya (tapas) restaurant on Denman. If I was rich enough I would go there everyday. But I’m not. So I’ve been there twice. The first time we went I was wowed by the deep wood and bamboo decor and the exemplary service. The restaurant had just changed its menu and the chefs were trying out some new specials. The entire staff was on edge and the servers kept asking us if everything was okay – even the chef came out to inquire. I laughed as though it was some sort of crazy joke. How could it not be good? Everything was superb. Kingyo is a little pricey – but what izakaya isn’t? Kingyo is well worth the $$$. Every time I walk by Kingyo I gaze in longingly at the happy patrons wishing I could be them.
This time we swung by for lunch. Most of the dishes are around the $10 range – and all of them sound good. How could you not be convinced by menus that make claims like “the super famous deluxe extremely sophisticated well designed bento box that will satisfy every single customer”. They don’t even have to give any hint of what the food actually is. I decided on the special bento box (makunouchi) based on the menu explantation alone. I did ask the waitress what was in it –> it has ten small versions of regular popular dishes. Yes, TEN dishes for $16. It blew my mind when it came out.
Kingyo has such great presentation! I almost want to look at the food more than I want to eat it. All the dishes in the special bento box were good – some more complex than others. My favorites were the kobe beef dish (bottom left corner), the tuna tataki (far left, middle row), the rare beef (bottom row, white plate), and the chicken karaage (middle row, blue bowl). Ones that didn’t totally rock my tastebuds were the boring pickles and leeks (top middle) and the tofu which was too soggy for my tastes.
My dining companion had the tonkatsu (pork cutlet) which came with a mountain of cabbbage and two great sauces (for $14). Both the meals were delicious and huge. Light eaters could probably get away with sharing a dish; however, we are NOT light eaters. We also ordered a lovely tuna carpaccio with avocado and greens ($9). And desserts. The desserts were great. I had the tiramisu which weirded me out at first because we were at an authentic Japanese restaurant….so why would they even offer the italian classic? I was again confused when the tiramisu came out and it was green. But it was delicious with lots of elements of traditional tiramisu. But it was matcha instead of chocolate and sake instead of espresso. Good eats for a mere $3.80.
We also decided to get a couple drinks. Kingyo has a full bar of fancy looking cocktails that are original. I had a lychee liquor with grapefruit juice($6). It was so refreshing and delicious that I sucked the whole thing down before my main course even touched the table. But at that rate the drink prices will ruin you – so watch out for that.
Ambiance = 10 Decor = 10 Service = 10 Food = 8 Drinks = 9
This is a charming sort of place where they put a heavy emphasis on presentation style and the use of fine quality ingredients. They flaunt the fact that they use salt from Utah’s ancient seabeds and rice cooked with Japanese wood charcoal. Kingyo is worth the price they demand. Perfect for a fancy night out or a hot date. But make a reservation because every smart guy in town is taking their hot date there tonight, too.
Note: there is hardly any sushi on the menu. Izakaya all the way!
Bonus: Open ’til 2am on weekends! And open daily for lunch and dinner!
Japandroids – Post-Nothing.
Every time Japan and Vancouver collide – magic happens.