Modelled on the izakaya bars in Japan, Kid Kyoto is a relaxed, after work bar and restaurant, with an inconspicuous laneway entrance and grungy vibe. It has a neo-industrial interior with bare concrete walls, bright red exposed pipes along the ceiling, earthy colours and subdued lighting. You can sit and eat at either of the two well-stocked bars or at a spacious table.
The ambience is Japanese kitchen collides with Western pop culture; you sip a glass of sake from their extensive selection while nodding innately to 90s Seattle indie rock. If it’s your first time and you’re unfamiliar with the cuisine then go for the omakase (literally translated as “I’ll leave it up to you”) a degustation style menu for two curated by the chef. Here’s a sample:
Open with cabbage and konbu pickle: a crispy red cabbage salad which is sharp and palate cleansing. Follow with cold squid udon salad, wakame, watermelon and serrano chilli dashi: a delicate dance of textures and flavours. Then preserved lemon chicken tsukune, onsen egg ‘birds nest’ and chilli rayu: tangy chicken patty on a stick served with poached egg and spicy rayu which are mixed together with the fried shredded leek to use as a dipping sauce.
The carrot-aage, native pepper berry and orange kosho that follows introduces your tongue to a surprising new texture – firm, velvety deep fried carrot with thin crispy batter skin and a strong, spicy paste. In contrast to the carrots is the wok smoked mushroom, walnut miso and purslane: firm, smokey mushrooms, crunchy walnuts and sprouts and a rich, savoury miso dressing. Along with this was served iceberg lettuce, furikake, miso whipped tofu and cured yolk, with lettuce as fresh as rain sprinkled with herbs – another palate cleanser.
This prepares you for the two meat dishes: ‘black hole sun’ pork belly, nori jam, apple and picked radish; and Rangers Valley wagyu steak +7, red hot chilli pepper miso and tsukemono. The meat in both dishes is juicy, rare and succulent with understated seasoning balanced by pickled sides and spicy sauce.
This is stadium rock with fireworks and lasers. But wait – there’s an encore! Chocolate fondant, caramelised miso, chocolate crackle, kinako and coconut ice cream. That deserves a standing ovation.
Kid Kyoto, 17-19 Bridge Street (entry via Bridge Lane), Sydney CBD. Mon-Fri 12pm til late; Sat 5pm til late. For bookings: Ph: (02) 9241 1991 or email: email@example.com
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich