Wasabi and Roll : Kyoto Kitchen Winchester Review
The night before walking along the Pilgrims’ Way from New Alresford to Winchester, Mark Bibby Jackson dines at Kyoto Kitchen Winchester.
I must admit to being a bit of a Japanese food snob. For me the further you travel from Tokyo Fish Market the worse the food gets. So, it was with a certain reticence that I went to Kyoto Kitchen despite its excellent reviews as one of the better of Winchester restaurants – and the first authentically Japanese restaurant in King Alfred’s capital.
Its appearance in the Michelin Guide is fully justified. Although I admit to not being a fan of sparkling sake – a new one on me, perhaps aimed at the prosecco set – the food was excellent with great local touches, and the service impeccable. The contemporary Japanese design has somehow managed to transpose the ambience of Tokyo to downtown Winchester.
Kyoto Kitchen Winchester Menu
We decided to sample the Syokutsuu Gourmet menu, and follow directions on alcohol which proved excellent, the sparkling sake excepted. More conventional sake was a great hit.
Poached lobster wrapped in radish was served alongside slightly blanched scallops with the chef’s plum and shiso pickle. The scallops were truly amazing with a slight tang to them.
Fresh Wasabi and Winchester Roll
This was followed by a crispy monkfish tempura, partnered with sakura salmon, which was par-smoked wih cherry blossom tea and served with Yuzu-Koshu pickle. The tea gave the salmon a delightful soft smokey flavour.
The wasabi was not the only local ingredient. Our next course was a selection of sushi, nigri and sashimi, including a Winchester roll with local trout wrapped in wasabi leaf.
It was then that I experienced something for the first time in a Japanese restaurant anywhere in the world. Fresh locally-grown wasabi was grated in front of us by our waiting staff Hiromi. Apparently it is grown a few miles away in the first wasabi farm in Europe. It really did taste as far from the stuff you squeeze out of a tube as imaginable. It was worth the trip to Winchester on its own.
Black Cod in Miso
However, the best was yet to come. The black cod mainated in spicy miso reinvented the term melt in your mouth – appropriate enough as the Japanese call it snow fish. This was so divine you just didn’t want the dish to finish – or share it with your dining companion.
It also demonstrates Kyoto Kitchen’s commitment to sustainability, as it comes from a sustainable farm in the US. Good for the environment and undeniably good for your stomach.
Our dessert was Mizu Mochi, or a Japanese water cake, which was a sake-infused Mochi cake and as authentically Japanese as the rest of the meal.
Kyoto Kitchen Winchester Verdict
This was comfortably the best Japanese meal I have experienced outside of Japan or Bangkok.
“You don’t get this on a conveyor belt,” said our waiter Dylan, a local lad who gets a special shout, both for his passion for the food he served and the restaurant that employs him. I am sure he will go far – well, at least much further than the Pizza Express where he used to work.
Kyoto Kitchen Winchester
70 Parchment Street, Winchester SO23 8AT
T: 01962 890 895
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