Last Saturday, we had a chance to try one of the latest Japanese restaurants making a buzz, Kyo-to Kaiseki restaurant in Legazpi Village, Makati. There is no English signage at the entrance, just a small sign with the restaurant’s name in Japanese, so it might be a little challenging to find. But the unmistakably Japanese entrance by the Prudential Guarantee signs near the Legazpi Street end of Palanca St. tells you you’ve found it.
Although there are a few small rooms in the restaurant, we were led to the bar around which there were around 8 or 9 seats. I would recommend sitting here rather than the rooms as one is able to see Chef Ryohei Kawamoto at work and chat with him a little if he’s not too busy. After several stints in Osaka and Tokyo, Chef Kawamoto worked as the personal chef of the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines before taking chage at Kyo-to. J and I were the only locals around the bar, with a group of Japanese on our left well in to their dinner when we arrived. A chorus of “oishi” from the group a good sign of things to come.
There is no menu here aside from the drinks list from which we ordered an excellent Dassai sake. For wine lovers, corkage is P 1000.00 a bottle. As a kaiseki restaurant, everyone gets the same set meal. In this case, 7 courses of mostly raw and grilled items. The first course was Hokkaido crab cucumber vinegar jelly and salmon with konbu with a Japanese-Italian dressing. Tha Hokkaido crab with jelly was particularly good.
Next came a soup course of somen noobles topped with grilled saba. The firm noodles and soup full of umami was quite comforting.
The third course had two sashimi items, toro and scallop. Both were of the highest quality. Absolutely delicious! I wish the serving of the melt-in- your-mouth toro and impossibly sweet scallop was bigger.
We could see the grill across from where we were seated and were certainly looking forward to what was on it. This was our next dish which was a Gindara teriyaki. Perfectly sauced, not too sweet or too heavy. The sansho powder, which is the Japanese version of the Szechuan pepper, gives a mild electric buzz on the tongue.
Although billed as an appetizer, I suppose the next course would be the equivalent of an entremet or sorbet. A small dish of uni to prepare the palate for the beef.
The main course consisted of extremely tender grilled wagyu Ohmi sirloin with a bowl of rice.
For dessert, we had a dish of ice cream with mochi, red bean, and kinako or roasted soybean flour.
The dinner was superb, straight-up Japanese food; simple preparation with the quality of the ingredients really shining through. Most of the dishes were raw or grilled. I would have liked to have seen one fried dish to give more variety but that’s a minor quibble. The service was also outstanding. Unobtrusive but efficient. Food at this level doesn’t come cheap, though. Be prepared for Tokyo prices, about P 5000.00 per person without drinks. But you are getting top-notch Tokyo quality. If you have a hankering for authentic Japanese food, Kyo-to is highly recommended.
Kyo-to Kaiseki Restaurant is located at the Ground Floor, Coyiuto House, 119 C. Palanca St., Legazpi Village Makati. Open Tuesday to Sunday 5:00 to 10:00 PM. Tel 8057743