Had an eagerly-awaited dinner with a bunch of friends at Kingyo last night. Right off the bat, let me just say that I *love* that they take reservations. It really makes for a much more pleasant experience, especially for those like myself that have to drive a fair distance to get into town.
Between the 6 of us, we ordered about 20 dishes. Basically we skipped the sushi, sashimi and vegan sections of the menu and ordered just about everything off of the other sections (starters, salads, meats, fish, rice and noodle, dessert).
My favourite dishes of the night were the mushroom agedashi in the hot stone bowl, the cream buta kakuni, the buta kakuni don, the kimchi udon, the cucumber pickles (I want an entire order of these pickles next time), the beef tataki salad and the surprisingly rich and delicious pork miso soup.
The weakest dish of the night was the calamari -- it was limp and rather flavourless.
Two "almost" contenders were the karaage and the pork tantan ramen. The karaage was absolutely perfectly fried -- crisp, wonderful coating, super juicy and tender dark meat. But it was a bit lacking in flavour. I feel like the meat could have used a slightly stronger marinade. Mind you, it didn't stop me from snagging the remaining piece (7 large chunks in the order). And the tantan ramen was way too salty, otherwise I would have loved the richly flavoured broth and the excellent noodles.
Other dishes ordered included the seafood and uni stone bowl don, the ebi mayo, chicken wings, black cod, tako wasabi, cha shu salad rolls, saba battera, goma ramen salad, and the soft shell crab salad. All were decent to good.
Of the desserts, I enjoyed the almond tofu and the sponge cake the best. The custard was not the type of texture I personally prefer in a custard.
We ordered one small bottle of a junmai ginjo sake and several of their really delicious and refreshing housemade ginger ales. The 6 of us was pleasantly full and the total bill per person, including tax and tip was only $59. A totally reasonable price for a huge array of tasty food. The portions are definitely very generous here -- certainly larger than many/most of Guu's dishes.
During dinner we discussed the fact that Zakkushi was in soft opening mode just a few blocks away. Well...we certainly couldn't pass up the opportunity to try it out. So despite the fact that we had just been eating for almost 3 hours, we headed over and got in right before the kitchen closed.
We sampled just a few items: chicken skin, shishito peppers, chicken hearts, chicken meatballs, fried chicken knee cartiledge, grilled rice balls, mochi ice cream and black sesame ice cream.
Tasty, tasty, tasty. I would have liked a little more smokiness and char on the yakitori, so I hope they work towards that as they get their legs (though I realize that binchontan doesn't produce a lot of smokiness). But the baseline flavours were all delicious. By design, the menu is crying out to be eaten while drinking lots and lots of sake or beer. Lots of salty, umami goodness to be washed down with cold sake.
I think my future perfect double header would be yakitori and sake at Zakkushi, then over to Kingyo for some of their rice and noodle bowls, some pickles and maybe a salad.
It was a good night of eating!