Kyo Ya Part 1: Next Level Kaiseki
Hello! Welcome back :) Today, we're talking about Kyo Ya in East Village. Given the bottle of sake to the right, you could probably come to the conclusion that I am an alcoholi-... I mean... that Kyo Ya is a Japanese restaurant! During our visit, we came for my dad's birthday and tried the 9 and 10 course tasting menus. The 10 course tasting menu had an extra course of fresh oysters and sashimi as you'll see later.
The restaurant is a bit hard to find. It's located below street-level with no apparent signs or logos. So, as we were walking down the steps, we felt pretty sketchy as we tried to peek through the oriental brown blinds. Eventually, we realized we had arrived at the right place. The restaurant is very well-designed and there's a long, beautiful bar area that I am a huge fan of. I will definitely want to come back soon to try their a la carte and sit at the bar.
IMPORTANT: To enjoy the Kaiseki menu, you need to call and reserve in advance.
If you’re interested in reading about the rest of the meal, here’s the link to Part 2.
Address: 94 E 7th St. New York, NY 10009
Tasting Menu - Summer 2016...
"Zatsuki" First Course: Anago Sea Eel and Gobo Spring Roll
"Sakizuke" Second Course: Chilled Tamaji-Mushi, Shrimp, Uni, Lima Bean, and Gin-an
"Oshinogi" Third Course: Braised Asari Little Neck Clam Sushi
"Owan" Fourth Course: Onion Potage with Crab Mousse and Cabbage
"Otsukuri" Fifth Course: Fresh Oyster and Sashimi of the Day
- Fresh North Bay Oysters with Onion, Ponzu Sauce, and Goji Berry
"Yakimono" Sixth Course: Iwana Arctic Char Gobo Miso Yaki with Fiddle Head and Black Sesame
"Nimono" Seventh Course: Potato Cream Pie and Braised Duck Grilled Leek in Duck Broth
"Tomezakana" Eighth Course: Junsai Fresh Water Shield, Okura, and Nectarine with Chia Seed Vinegar
"Oshokuji" Ninth Course: Sakura Shrimp and Peter Corn Kamadaki Rice with Red Miso Soup and Pickles
Dessert: Shiro An Wrapped with Lemon Mochi in Melon Soup
Dessert: Strawberry Ice Cream with Caramelized Corn Flake
Sake: Watari Bune Junmai Ginjo 55
Anyway, there are a lot of dishes so we'll just start from the top. The tasting started out with a small glass of Japanese wine as our aperitif. Do you know what an aperitif is? Basically, it's a teaser drink that makes you want more of this so you end up ordering a whole bottle of sake. Just kidding. An aperitif is something that people usually drink to stimulate appetite before a meal. It was nice.
Next, we got the Anago Sea Eel and Gobo Spring Rolls. When it arrived, I was left in a daze as the aroma of fried, fishy, smokiness of the spring roll enveloped the air around me. I immediately went for the spring rolls. Didn't even care that it was still freshly fried and hot. I liked how it wasn't very oily and the skin was very thin.
The gobo (burdock root) was mild and and balanced well with the sweetness of the sea eel. Unlike unagi (the more popular preparation of sea eel, where the eel is grilled and steamed), anago is sweeter and softer because it is cooked by simmering.
The 2nd course was the Chilled Tamaji-Mushi. Super invigorating. It was kind of like a Chawanmushi, which is a hot egg custard dish. But, Kyo Ya's was cold and was made with Tamaji (a small Japanese Sweet Potato). It was also topped with Shrimp, Uni, Lima Bean, and Gin-an (Ginkgo Nuts). The first 3 of those toppings were delightful but I LOVE ginkgo nuts. Why? Because they're delicious. The texture is soft and chewy, kind of like a jelly bean. Typically, it tastes nutty and a little bitter.
NOT SO FUN FACT: Eating too many (10+) ginkgo nuts can cause ginkgo poisoning and symptoms may include stomachaches, irritability, and nausea. On the other hand, it does still have its benefits. It is known to help with cognitive function as well as cancer prevention from its antioxidant benefits.
Next, we had a little Braised Ansari Little Neck Clam Sushi. It was pretty good but not too much to talk about here. It came wrapped in a huge leaf so unwrapping it felt like an early Christmas gift.
The 4th course was an Onion Potage with Crab Mousse and Cabbage. "Potage" is a fancy word for a stew that was made by boiling vegetables or meat in water until it becomes a thick soup. Kyo Ya makes theirs with Onion and Celery. There was a large ball made with Shrimp, White Fish, and Potato then wrapped in Cabbage. This would be perfect for the wintertime or when you're sick.
The Sashimi was more extensive. It included Yellow Tail, Salmon, Trout, Snapper, Blue Fin Tuna, Shiso, Sea Urchin, Seaweed, and Cactus. The wasabi was freshly ground, which I really appreciate. With cheap wasabi, if you have a lot, you just end up choking on it and it's not pleasant to eat by itself. With good wasabi, the flavor is more balanced and the wasabi is more watery. It makes a huge difference when enjoying sushi or sashimi.
Lastly, the 5th course was Fresh Oyster with their Sashimi of the day. The oyster was pretty good. I don't know why I love oysters so much but I do... The single oyster that came with the course could not be more of a tease. It was topped with Onion, Ponzu, and Goji Berry.