Have I set the scene? : )
Kyoto Kitchen is tucked away down a Winchester side street and has a distinctly non-descript feel; a generic dining room with generic furniture and some Japanese decor to show what ethnicity of restaurant you have wandered into. And indeed, they have two sister restaurants in Winchester: an Indian and a Thai. Hm.The food is generally good. You know, competent, with a couple of mis-steps and a couple of nice bits. The mackerel sashimi is a mis-step: so very pickled that it has the texture of cooked fish and tastes like they’re experimenting with Scandinavian-Japanese fusion. There’s an original house-special roll; rice around smoked trout wrapped in wasabi leaf and served with fresh wasabi that you grate yourself (they’re lucky enough to have one of the UK’s only wasabi growers nearby). Fresh wasabi is a revelation, not as fierce as the green paste but amazingly bright, fresh and fiery. The roll is a jolly good eat. Mind you, that’s a sliver of fish for a £20 roll.
There’s a nice dish of wafer-thin tuna sashimi dusted with poppy seed and a mustard sauce. The miso soup is good, lovely deep flavour. Likewise the dashi that comes with our yasai tempura. It’s not bad, the tempura, though a little oily. Vegetable gyoza are pretty good, almost as nice as the ones at Zheng. Almost. We order a simple tuna sashimi too, just to check the basics. Four pieces of dense ruby-red fish, but sadly too cold from the fridge.
So, y’know, if this was my local Japanese restaurant I might be fairly content. Though at £80 for two people without drinks (and we certainly weren’t full afterwards), I might wince if this was my only local Japanese. Which apparently, if you live in Winchester, it is. This might help explain why it scores so well in Hardens? And the mighty high score in Hardens might explain why I have reviewed it so hard. Was disappointed.