Thursday, October 29, 2009


Freshly grated wasabi

Restaurant: Kingyo
Cuisine: Japanese/Izakaya/Fusion
Last visited: October 23, 09
Area: Vancouver, BC
871 Denman Street
Price Range: $20-30 (average bill per person)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 5
Additional comments:
  • Izakaya/Tapas style Japanese food
  • Trendy, creative/funky fusion dishes
  • Small selection of sashimi specialties
  • Fresh ingredients/homemade sauces
  • Menu includes description of sauces
  • Seasonal menus
  • Japanese owned/operated
  • Home made desserts
  • Home made ginger ale, and lychee liquor
  • Extensive drink menu
  • Winner of tons of awards
  • Busy/Lively
  • Attracts ages 20-35, large groups/couples
  • Reservations recommended
  • Complimentary frozen grapes at the end
  • Recently opened for lunch now (different menu)

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, any of their daily Sashimi specials, Sockeye Salmon Carpaccio, Pressed Mackerel Sushi

Kingyo is one of my favourite Izakaya places in Vancouver - and we have a lot to chose from. The quality of food is up there and the service is lively with the staff greeting you from the moment you walk in. It has a contemporary Japanese atmosphere, young staff, and funky menu. Kingyo is great because they offer homemade sauces, pay attention to detail and presentation.

I've been here a bunch of times and have tried pretty much every item on the standard menu. However there's always something new to feature on their daily fresh sheet that includes chef's recommendations and daily/seasonal specials. I have yet to be disappointed and it's a solid choice for Izakaya.

What impresses me is the quality of sashimi and the proper techniques they use to cut it. That and the fact that they give you freshly grated wasabi, the best way to eat sashimi.

On the table:
  • **Ahi Tuna Carpaccio 6/6
    • Thinly sliced ahi-tuna and avocado over Japanese radish topped with garlic chips, kaiware radish wasabi mayo and soy based dressing.
    • Take your taste buds on a journey! This dish is amazing and one of my favourites. The texture is perfect and it's so finely executed and delicate to eat with beautiful colours too. Everything is finely sliced - the avocado and tuna the same size, and the "decorations" the same size.
    • Nothing is overwhelming because the ratio of all the ingredients is spot on. It's a very refreshing dish from all the fresh veggies and you still get a little creaminess from the avocado and tuna.
    • There's different levels of crunchiness, from the veggies, garlic chips (way better than croutons), and masago so it's almost like a salad. The dressing aids to the freshness - it's served with a tangy and citrusy vinaigrette and a wasabi mayo that gives the dish a slight kick...the Japanese radish sprouts also give it a slight spiciness.
  • **5 kinds of Sashimi 6/6
    • Scallop, local shrimp, local sockeye salmon, hamachi (Yellowtail tuna), ahi tuna
    • The 5 kinds of sashimi are chef's choice and it changes seasonally according to what is available.
    • You can't go wrong with ordering sashimi at Kingyo. They have a small selection of sashimi so you can guarantee it's fresh and very high in quality. Just look at it! It's beautiful pieces!
    • They serve it the authentic Japanese way where each slice is cut perfectly with a real sashimi knife. It's bite-size, how it should be, and each fish is cut differently to bring out maximum flavour. He uses proper technique to cut the fish so that you get to taste not only the flavour but the texture of it too. The salmon just melts in your mouth.
    • The shrimp is kind of sweet and really slimy.
    • The scallops are served with a dollop of mixed caviar which gives it a salty bite bringing out the scallops natural flavour; as well as for presentation.
  • **Yellowtail "Japan" sashimi and Ahi-Tuna "Hawaii" sashimi
  • Ahi-Tuna Hawaii 6/6
    • It's cut in cubes and on a slight diagonal like it should be. The flavour is outstanding and all it needs is a little wasabi. It's firm, hearty, and almost meaty in texture and flavour.
    • The only thing is I can tell they don't sell much of it (at $13.80) - so it's not as fresh as it should be. Don't get me wrong - you won't get sick from it or anything, but it's not day-of fresh.
  • Yellowtail "Japan" 6/6 versus Hamachi (Yellowtail) 4.5/6
    • I took a photo so you can see the difference between Yellowtail "Japan" (the lighter coloured one which we ordered separately), and Hamachi, also Yellowtail, but not from Japan (came on the 5 kinds of sashimi boat).
    • The Yellowtail "Japan" wins hands down, and at $13.50 it should. It's firmer and has this rich buttery flavour. It has a higher fat content and has more flavour, it's delicious!
  • Sizzling Stone Sea Urchin Bibimbap 3/6
    • Sea urchin, salmon caviar, prawn, squid, & mixed seasonal veggies on premium Koshi Hikari rice served in a stone bowl.
    • This is a Japanese spin on a very popular Korean rice bowl the "bibimbap".
    • They serve it in a very hot stone bowl and the server does the mixing for you at the table. He shows you what you're getting and then does the mixing. They press the rice to the sides of the bowl so it can crisp up. The longer you wait to eat it the crispier it gets and the better it is.
    • The texture is a little gummy and slimy from the sea urchin and the saltiness is a fishy saltiness (from the sea urchin and salmon caviar). They used green onions, Enoki mushrooms, celery and water chestnuts to give it crunch which it really needed. None of these ingredients really have flavour though so I found it a bit bland. I understand if they want to show off the natural flavour of the sea urchin, but it was a big bowl of rice and it needed something extra.
    • Still good, but compared to the other dishes there's better. I would also prefer the Korean bibimbap to this.
  • Tako-Wasabi (Raw or cooked) 4/6
    • Chopped octopus and pickles marinated in wasabi flavoured sauce. Your choice of raw, cooked, or half and half.
    • I ordered it raw, but be prepared for a super slimy dish! This is perhaps the slimiest, gooiest and gummiest dish ever...but it's supposed to be. It's really fresh and it's marinated in its own juices. The pickles and wasabi cut through the sliminess a bit. They use freshly grated wasabi in the sauce and that makes the world of difference.
    • I wouldn't mind trying it half and half, but I hesitate because octopus can be easy to overcook and it becomes really tough and chewy.
    • Raw octopus is also a delicacy so it seems like a waste to cook it.
    • It's served with strips of nori. Eat it like a taco: add a spoonful of chopped octopus and pickles to a sheet of nori and eat.
  • Grilled Black Cod 3/6
    • Grilled "saikyo miso" marinated black cod.
    • This was good, but also nothing really special or creative.
    • The saikyo miso is made of fermented soy beans. The one they used for this fish is a sweet miso gravy. The sauce was a bit chalky - which miso naturally is, almost like a sweet peanut butter, but not as thick. It didn't really absorb into the black cod, but was more of a condiment. The fish was really tender and smooth with a nice crispy skin.
    • Personally I think the Chinese do a better cod.
  • Chestnut & Yuzu Gelato 2/6
    • Made in house, but it's not that good.
    • They definitely use the real thing in creating the flavours. The two together were a good balance because the yuzu was light and the chestnut was thicker and creamier.
    • Simply put it tastes like an Asian dessert - not like the gelato you're used to.
    • Yuzu: a slight licorice taste and you get a hint of lemon peel too. It's sorbet like.
    • Chestnut: very potent chestnut flavour. It almost tastes like red bean, which I don't like. A little chalky tasting.
    • Chocolate Brownie-cake thing: ew, no. This was really bad. It tasted like it was made with Splenda sugar, it was really fake and there was no chocolate taste. Just look at the texture, you can tell it was dry and dense.
  • Sake-Kasu Tiramisu 1.5/6
    • I didn't order it on this visit, but I've tried it before.
    • It's really boozey! You can really taste the sake and I think they went overboard. It was overpowering. It's also really rich and creamy and it's hard to finish the whole thing by yourself.
    • Complimentary frozen grapes served at the end.

Kingyo on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow, the food looks quite good. (drool....)

    It is quite unfortunately they don't serve this at lunchtime...

  2. Yeah but apparently the lunch menu is pretty good too - I have yet to try it.

    It's probably more worth it to just go for dinner though because the selection is so much bigger.

  3. I had an opportunity to go to Kingyo for lunch last week. The selection at lunch is definitely catered for the in and out crowd. But don’t let the limited selection fool you.

    I ordered the special bento box which they limit to 10 sets per day. The bento box comes with 10-12 small portions of different items from their regular menu plus rice and miso soup. It was a little pricey at $16.00 but totally worth it. Every item in the bento was delicious. I love the fact that you get a variety of dishes. That makes me happy!! :)

    I’ll definitely be back for lunch. Next item I’d like to try is the Tonkatsu bento (breaded pork cutlet). I'm drooling already...haha

    Mijune, you'll definitely need to try the lunch menu if you haven't already done so. Can't wait to read your review!! :)

  4. I've heard so much about Kingyo lunch and I'm happy to hear that they don't dissappoint! I really like dinner there so I have high expectations for lunch. but yes $16 for lunch is a bit steep...once in a while I think is ok though.

    I love set lunches as well, I think that's why I like izakaya because I get to sample everything.

    Thanks for the tip and recommendations - I can't wait to write a review for it too! Thanks for reading and posting!