Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kyoto Review

2610 Dillard Loop
Lake Charles, LA
Monday - Friday 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM $8 - $40
Saturday - Sunday 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

I am sure most of you have watched this new construction go up. A sign resided on this spot saying the steak house was coming. It lived there for several years. If you think the outside of this building is striking the interior is more so. The foyer consists of stone tile leading into the back where the sushi bar is also covered in stone work. A bilevel dinning area to the right has wood flooring and regular seating. To the left are the hibachi tables and bar. All of it is a bit overwhelming. Obviously money was spent here.
First foray was at the sushi bar. I started off with Miso soup. As fine an example as I have ever tasted. Next came a superior seaweed salad. It contained some seaweed I had never seen before in a salad. In the lead position was Ebi (sweet shrimp). This dish gives you the tail raw over rice and the heads fried to a crunchy snack, again very tasty. The main event was Chirashi (meaning scattered). This consists of a lacquered bowl filled a third of the up with rice. Scattered on top is what is fresh at the bar. A kitchen sink kind of dish that I use to test freshness and range of options at a sushi bar. This one contained octopus, crab surimi, tuna, salmon, fluke, snapper, salmon roe, yellow tail, pickled vegetables and pieces of sweet omelet. It passed with flying colors. To finish off I ordered Unagi (eel). The eel sauce put on top is so sweet I eat it as dessert.
In for lunch I went with a Bento Box. Miso soup comes with it. I also got some Crawfish Tempura, which proved excellent (light and airy batter and not over fried). Every bento box arrives with seaweed salad, stir fried vegetables, California roll (non-raw) and a sectioned citrus fruit. To complete it you choose two items out about a dozen or so. I opted for Salmon Teriyaki and Beef Nagemaki. This is a thin strip of steak rolled around asparagus and green onions, cooked, then cut like a sushi roll. Unfortunately both items were overcooke4d. The rest of the bento box was fine. I ended with green tea ice cream that set everything right.
Dinner with two companions finished the cycle. We got Sea Bass Tempura, Fried Ebi, and Crab Puff for appetizers splitting them amongst ourselves. The sea bass was really in panko, which can pick odd flavors in the oil. This one was fine and fish mild and sweet. Fried ebi is the sweet shrimp wrapped in seaweed then dipped in tempura batter and fried. The sweet shrimp played well against the slightly salty seaweed and the crispness of the batter. They lay a pattern of a soy-based sauce and peanut butter based sauce on the plate. The crab puff was crab surimi and cream cheese fried in a wonton wrapper, OK. I had a salad with Kyoto dressing that proved to be a mild creamy horseradish affair. My royal friend went the steak route with Steak Teriyaki. It appeared sliced and very tender with a typical teriyaki flavor profile as my taste showed. My enthusiastic friend got Sea Bass Miso. The fillet was cooked to perfection with a fermented soy bean glaze which complemented the fish to a T, in my opinion. I must say the both dishes contained a bit of decoration out of the ordinary i.e. the fish had a leaf tail. I went with the Unagi. Presented in a lacquered box, it contained a layer of rice, nice size fillet and pickled vegetables (cucumber, beet, and yellow squash). I love the sweet, spicy, unctuous flavor of this preparation of eel. I ate every last bite
Dessert consisted of Fried Tempura Bananas with ice cream, Fried Ice Cream in a tempura batter and Plum Ice Cream. All were good but I still prefer the Green Tea Ice Cream.
Since this establishment has opened both service and the food have improved. If you had a bad experience several weeks ago please try them again. I think you will be surprised. I did not do hibachi but people whose judgment I trust said it was good. A side note, the typical set up here is a faux cloth napkin with chopsticks on a plate with a rectangular sauce container. They will bring you regular tableware if you ask for it. I for one fully intend to go back here.

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