Saturday, April 11, 2015

Episode #77: Kingyo Izakaya

Vancouver (West End), $$ (Moderately Priced)

Every day for lunch, Kingyo Izakaya produces 10 of their Kingyo Assorted Deluxe Bento Box, which is one of those Japanese lunch sets containing a ton of small dishes that I wish I could have on a daily basis. Normally, I have classes to take at SFU at around noon every weekday, but as soon as one of my professors decided to cancel a class, my first thought was to use that opportunity to line up at Kingyo to get this special, exclusive lunch set. As usual, the traffic tried its very best to prevent me from getting there in time. I arrived there after an excruciating hour and a half of bus rides and managed to snatch the 11th spot in line before the restaurant opened.

I only managed to get the lunch set by literally placing my order at the door. As I sat down and waited for my food, I noticed that all of the staff, as well as many of the customers, were Japanese. There were definitely a few moments when I felt like I was actually in Japan. The first time I visited Kingyo, the hostess actually greeted me in Japanese and continued to ask me where I would like to sit in Japanese. Unfortunately, my Japanese skills are quite basic and my reaction time to spoken Japanese is too slow, so I just spoke in English instead.

Tamagoyaki - B-

The Tamagoyaki was unexpectedly served at a cool temperature. It had some grated daikon on top and although it was dressed with teriyaki sauce (which is sweet), I found that it could be sweeter. It also had a small amount of spiciness, which helped to liven up the flavours.

Fried Salmon - B+

The Fried Salmon had a very light layer of tempura batter and was served in a tangy sauce. It was also served cool.

Miso Soup - A+

I know you're supposed to drink the Miso Soup last, but it smelled really good and I couldn't stop myself from taking a sip. One sip turned into another, and soon, there was no Miso Soup left in the bowl. The rich miso paste, combined with a unique flavour due to the addition of carrot and radish, made the Miso Soup highly enjoyable. 

 Tuna Tataki - B+

At first glance, I was worried that they put spicy sauce on the Tuna Tataki, but this was not the case. The red dressing was a furikake-like seasoning that helped to bring a more savoury side to the tuna. The tuna itself was fresh but could be softer.

Marinated Vegetables - A-

The marinated vegetables had a nice savoury flavour overall and both the green beans and the eggplant were soft and juicy.

Kakuni - B

The Kakuni (braised pork) was slightly overdone. However, the potato purée and the teriyaki sauce made a good combination and I liked how the pork was accented with a bit of spice.

Fried Tuna - B+

The Fried Tuna was accompanied by dill cream sauce and a slice of lemon on top. Although I would have liked to see more crispiness with the fried tuna, the dill cream sauce went well with the tuna and gave it a bit of a fish-and-chips feel.

Agedashi Tofu - A-

The Agedashi Tofu exhibited the desired level of crispiness and the interior texture was decent. I like how they added the dried baby shrimps on top for extra flavour.

Pickled Vegetables - A-

Out of all the pickled vegetables I've had, this was above average. The flavour and texture of each piece was on point.

Shrimp Salad - A

The Shrimp Salad came with cocktail shrimp, watercress, and snap peas. The tangy dressing was applied in just the right amount and the cocktail shrimp were rather rich in flavour by themselves.

Fried Chicken - B+

The Fried Chicken was tender and tasted fresh. Although the batter wasn't hard, it would be nice if some more dressing was applied to prevent it from being dry. The bed of cabbage underneath was dressed with gyoza sauce.

Pressed Mackerel Sushi - A+

The Pressed Mackerel Sushi, not a part of the deluxe bento box, consisted of lightly seared marinated mackerel pressed sushi, sweet kelp, sesame, takana pickles topped with original green onion ginger and mustard dressing. I literally fell in love with this dish at first bite. The saba (mackerel) came in thick, generous slices that were very soft and juicy. It was beautifully presented and the searing was done perfectly.

The servers were friendly and patient and overall, the service added to the enjoyment of my lunch. Even though there was a sizeable crowd forming at the door, the servers did not rush my experience at all. Although I'm a sushi person and not an izakaya person, I wouldn't mind coming back to Kingyo Izakaya as the authentic and well-prepared meal was one that I very much enjoyed. Furthermore, they do serve some pressed/nigiri-style sushi, so my visits to Kingyo can qualify as sushi adventures! 

Kingyo Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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