The 90's are back and in full force at Kid Kyoto. The dimly lit, grungy and buzzy restaurant is slightly hidden away in Bridge Lane. On the menu are Japanese inspired dishes made to share and innovative twists on the izakaya classics.
One of my favourite nights to go out is Friday night. Mainly because it makes the weekend feel so much longer. There were three of us on the way to Kid Kyoto walking through the city busy with pre-Christmas revellers. Nina was overseas and Mr NQN thought that Garth might hole himself up in the house all weekend (because he would himself) so we asked him along to dinner at Kid Kyoto. Garth is also slightly obsessed with Japan.
The owner of Kid Kyoto is Sam Prince of Mejico and Indu and it was a trip to Japan and the playing of 90's music that apparently helped chef Seb Gee devise the izakaya style menu. Izakayas in Japan usually serve small, share style dishes, in a convivial, unpretentious atmosphere with a lot of drinking. This isn't quite like that - it's a bit more artfully grungy than the typical slightly homely Japanese izakaya.
Located on Bridge Street the entryway is actually on Bridge Lane where it is easily found if you follow the signs. Everything is dimly lit, first we see a bar and then an open kitchen. Like at Mejico and Indu, surfaces are hard so sounds do tend to bounce and echo so it's not a place that you might want to linger and have deep and meaningful conversations. Instead it's more the place you eat, enjoy and then go onto somewhere else.
Service is absolutely lovely and helpful from our waitress and although it is very early days, everything seems en pointe from the greeting, menu and service. The soundtrack that they introduce us to along with the menu is populated with 90's hits from Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Blur. I kind of love it.
From left to right: Hello Jenny $14, Inn Bloom $20 & Kid Kyo-tini $20
We start with cocktails and a mocktail. There Kid Kyo-tini is a petite martini made with an Archie Rose 'Kid Kyoto blend' gin made for them, Noilly Prat, Junmai Daiginjo sake, fennel & edamame shrub. I love the Inn Bloom made with Bloom gin, Shiso saké, grapefruit, yuzu, strawberry & thyme shrub because it's feminine and sweet. We also try a mocktail called Hello Jenny with Hello Jenny Calpis, yuzu marmalade, cane syrup and soda. It needs a bit more sweetness as it is quite a dry drink despite its sweet sounding description.
Crab stix' senbei rice cracker, konbu, spanner crab floss & old bay $12 for three
Our first bite comes our quickly. Usually these come two to a serve but they add another one for the three of us. It's a slender, crunchy senbei rice cracker with kombu, spanner crab floss and Old Bay seasoning. I could have easily eaten another half dozen addictive morsels.
Smoking salmon sashimi, wasabi pea & nori $24
The smoking salmon comes out from under a plate revealing a cloud of smoke. It is six salmon sashimi slices on a wasabi pea puree with nori. The pea puree has a slightly sweet quality from and the smoking is delicate although this needs a touch of salt or soy.
Carrot-aage, native pepperberry & orange kosho $14
Another little bite that I loved was the tempura Dutch carrots. These come four to a serve and are seasoned with native pepperberry and orange kosho which really adds a flavour punch to the carrots instantly. Kosho is a condiment or salt paste from the Kyushu region that combines citrus (usually yuzu) with salt and chilli.
Beef tartare 'teriyaki flavour', nashi pear & whipped katsuobushi $16
This was one of my favourite courses. The beef teriyaki is creamy with whipped katsuoboshi (skipjack tuna flakes) and given a sweet crunch from the nashi pear. It comes with four enormous shiso leaves and you spoon some of the mixture and roll up the leaf. Heaven.
Preserved lemon chicken tsukune, onsen egg ‘birds nest’ & chilli rayu $16 for two
The tsukune or chicken mince meatballs are enormous and soft and moist inside. They're flavoured with preserved lemon and served with an onsen egg that resembles a birds nest as it sits on a layer of chilli rayu. They're so plump and juicy although the egg and birds nest doesn't really stick to it.
‘Black hole sun’ pork belly, nori jam, apple & pickled radish $30
There's a bit of a wait while the mains arrive but these come all at once which is good because you really do need rice or sides with the pork belly. The signature dish is said to be the Black Hole Sun named after the song by Soundgarden. It's pieces of soft pork belly with a nori jam, edamame, apple and sweet pickled radish. The nori jam is delicious and we particularly like the sweet pickles with the pork belly (although I could have done with a bit more, pickle fanatic here).
Wagyu +4 Sirloin, red hot chilli pepper miso, & tsukemono $42
Between the three of us we shared two mains because we had ordered quite a few starters and I think we could have conceivably shared the one main as the two hungry boys were completely full and unable to finish everything (I always over order!). The wagyu sirloin is cooked perfectly medium rare and served with a red hot chilli pepper miso (I see what you did there with the RHCP!), tsukemono cabbage pickles and a chiffonade of spring onion to lift the rich beef. It's such a powerhouse of flavours and I like the way everything works so well together.
Corn, nori & fish 'chahan' fried rice $18
Our waitress raved about the fried rice and it's nice but I don't know if I would rave about it. It's nice with the other meats but is quite salty by itself. I do like the crunchy bits though.
Iceberg lettuce, furikake, miso whipped tofu &, cured yolk $12
We ordered a side of crisp iceberg lettuce with furikake (a dry seasoning packed with flavour), whipped tofu dressing instead of a mayonnaise style dressing and cured yolk. The bottom pieces don't get the dressing and furikake but I like the top pieces.
Calpis granita, strawberry eucalyptus sorbet, drunk honeydew melon & black sesame $16
There are three desserts and three sakes on the dessert menu. We end up choosing two polar opposite desserts. The Calpis granita is made using the Japanese soft drink Calpis (sort of like a watery Yakult) and it is very refreshing. It comes with a quennelle of strawberry eucalyptus sorbet, black sesame and thin slices of honeydew melon soaked in Midori (OMG flashbacks of high school Friday nights with Midori, I guess the 90's aren't over!).
Chocolate fondant, caramelised miso, chocolate crackle, kinako & coconut ice cream $16
On the other end of the spectrum but no less enjoyable is the chocolate fondant with caramelised miso, thin chocolate crackle that tastes just like Milo, kinako powder (a roasted soybean powder that tastes like peanut butter) and a salted coconut ice cream. Although it is melting by the time it gets to us the chocolate fondant is divinely rich and not too large a serve. I adore the chocolate crackle that tastes like Milo although the salted coconut ice cream tastes like nothing but unsweetened cream when eaten with the other components. It's only when you try it by itself that the flavour really comes out.
But by now they really need our table for the crowd outside so it's time to go to the tune of Smashing Pumpkins!
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite night to go out? And what is your favourite musical decade? Do you have any favourite 90's bands?
This meal was independently paid for.
17/19 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000 (entry via Bridge Lane)
Phone: (02) 9241 1991
Monday to Friday 12pm til 3pm and 5pm til late
Saturday 12pm til late