Kyo: A Disappointment (7.0)

In all honesty Kyo was a disappointment for us and not quite worth our time. Its market positioning and location were somewhat of a bizarre mismatch to start with, and amenities and fittings within the restaurant simply couldn’t catch up with proper sushiyas. The air conditioning was a bit loud and blasted streams of cold air towards my head. That wasn’t comfortable.

On our visit, there was only one sushi chef to cater to the entire restaurant seating a maximum of twenty-two guests (let’s assume twelve during covid). That does not seem to be a reasonable arrangement on any day as one chef without an assistant simply cannot accomplish the task of serving a dozen guests on different menus at an acceptable pace. We almost left halfway as we were so slowly served. And it was frustrating because we’ve never been to such an unprofessional sushiya. I get that the chef, who seems to be a diligent local, is trying hard to make his restaurant a great place, but there really is some space for improvement in terms of getting operations running less amateurishly to achieve the standards that I assume he had set himself to, given his menu pricing (around $2000 for a dinner omakase, above $1000 for a lunch omakase, nearly $600 for a 12-piece sushi gozen set and above $400 for a 7-kinds sashimi set) that is not very much lower than some of the finest sushi places in premium locations in Hong Kong.

In terms of the food, the sushi and sashimi were roughly the standard of average omakase sushiyas in areas like Causeway Bay and Central, with the most memorable dish being the steamed egg. Service was accommodating though, but that wasn’t enough to make this a place to recommend. Perhaps residents of the area would find it convenient to have the option to getting some decent sushi within walking distance of their homes on occasion, but if you don’t live in the area, I could probably suggest fifty other places as an alternative.

Food Rundown

I had a sashimi set and my partner had a 12-piece sushi set. By the time he had his first sushi, I was almost done with my set, despite my best efforts to eat as slowly as I could manage.

The sashimi set included buri, madai, katsuo, shima-aji, sanma, hotate and akigai. Katsuo was the only fish that was decent and good, while buri and madai both suffered from careless slicing and were perhaps just not a premium cut, as I was able to remove fibrous bits from my mouth after eating those two kinds.

Sanma is usually a kind of sashimi that I like, but here the flavors were fairly bland and the cut was a terribly fatty one. I did not eat the second piece. Hotate and akigai were just fine. I would also add that the chef added bits of charcoal over the scallops and also seasoned the other cuts of fish, sometimes dripping them with oil. As much as I tried to appreciate every effort I genuinely did not find much harmony or merit in those.

The sushi set included madai, shima-aji, buri, kin-medai, hotate, akami, kohada, katsuo, sujiko, otoro, bafun-uni and a maguro temaki. The ones that stood out a bit more were buri, katsuo and sujiko. The rest were apparently very ordinary and not much to write home about.

We both really liked the steamed egg and agreed that it was the best part of our meal. The texture was wonderfully gel-like and the black truffle oil went so well with it.

The tea we were served was also a highlight – deep bittersweet flavors and just the right temperature.

KYO Japanese
34 Davis Street, Kennedy Town
$$$, Japanese