A Japanese izakaya serving a variety of alcohol with daily specials in food and a limited selection of sashimi (hamachi/beef/tuna/salmon). A good selection of grilled fish from black cod to mackerel as well as various forms of chicken, beef, and tofu served the funky Japanese way in tapa-sized portions. Also available are hotpot selections and grilled beef tongue dishes.
Finally got to try this izakaya after many good raves & reviews from friends & family. We went late night on a Tuesday night and order a few items like their Kakuni - Slowly tamari soy stewed tender pork belly served w/ a homemade creamy potato & coriander sauce, The Famous Invincible & Undefeated Tan-Tan Noodle in Pork Bone & shrimp broth seasoned w/ sesame, miso & cashew nuts topped w/ground pork, pickles, green onions & black sesame, and the Stone Grilled Beef Tongue served w/ yuzu red pepper paste & green onions. All very delicious and filling. We want to go back with a group of friends, so we can try more different things from their menu, so it doesn't cost so much for 2 people. I'd say it's not cheap, but not super expensive. Definitely a gem on Denman worth going to. Great ambiance, service and unique flavors.
This place was the first time for me tonight. It was my gf's bday so wanted to treat her to something special.
The overall experience was good.
The thing that stood out for me, in particular, was the interior design - very rustic and japanese. The food was also decent, but it felt like a hit and miss on some of the dishes.
We had ordered 6 dishes plus a drink. total came to about 70.00 including tip so it was quite reasonably valued in the end and portions were fair.
- grilled pork cheek
- shrimp salad
- crab rice
- dan dan noodle
- agedashi style tofu
overall, i'd say the cooking was solid, although the only ones that stood out in particular was the crab rice and agedashi style tofu.
the ones at the bottom of the barrel were the dan dan noodles and calamari.
calamari was soggy and soaked with grease. we at first thought it was the salsa that had caused the calamari to lose its fried crunch but than eating the ones not in contact with the salsa was still soggy. advice for the chef would be to have the salsa in a separate container.
however, after telling the waitress this, she was kind enough to offer us a replacement dish or to deduct the calamari cost off our tab but we declined because overall it was a good experience and we just wanted to let the chef know.
having eaten so many cuisines, sometimes i second guess myself on what the standards are at a certain place but this calamari was definitely a fail. i hope it was just a consistency error and next time it will come out perfect.
next, the dan dan noodles were not particular memorable or tasty. the overall cooking felt flat and i wasn't sure if it was some fast food dish i was eating or something they had not put heart into. it just felt a bit superficial and something i could get at a food court. banal, mediocre and bland.
the shrimp salad was reasonable, although a little over salty but well seasoned i think.
the pork cheek, i enjoyed greatly but i wished it would have had just maybe that extra 5-15% grill taste to it. it felt overly tenderized and even just below medium done. it was juicy, well seasoned, but texture wise, just uniform - no variety. this may be a personal preference but it's what i think for this dish.
the star of tonight was the crab rice on special in november of this month. full of crab flabor and tiny parcels of real crab meat, seafood and some sort of, i think, very aromatic japanese gratin cheese baked into the rice. it had depth of flavor and the rice was cooked just right.
the crab rice came in a stone bowl, pipping hot.
the cocktail, kingyo cocktail, lacked alcohol taste but flavor was not bad.
our waitress was great, very caring and attentive.
i'd return again, but it would not be a place i'd go often in terms of similarly priced range of izakaya.
Upon sitting down, we could immediately tell that these guys are serious. About their food, about running a great restaurant. It's the attention to detail and carefully maintained.
Service was as expected for a restaaurant at this level, very good, no complaints.
We went specifically for their 'king of bento', a limited edition lunch. $16. Also had the ginger ale,excellent, and the melon soda, good.
The bento? A steal and a half. Good bowl of rice, miso soup and 10 other dishes. Each one was meticulously prepared, good presentation and each one had unique taste and different preparation. Their own pickles, geoduck, pork, chicken, tuna, salmon. Many of them had unique eye-opening taste. Come on, at that price, would I eat at Cactus, Earl's, etc? Not on your life.
Highly recommended. Will be back for sure to try some of thie other fare. Haven't hit a place this 'surprising' in a long while.
We came here for a small (5 person) birthday dinner recently. Always wanted to try it so we gave it a shot since I heard rave reviews. It was a Saturday night and the place was packed with a lineup up front. Glad we had reservations.
We were seated near the back by the kitchen/washrooms. The ambience is different. Clean (but dim) lighting worked well together with the crowd and I really liked the greenery that was centered up front. We were immediately served steaming hot hand towels moments after we sat down. Very nice touch! Our server for the night was very busy but he was friendly and very helpful while we were deciding on what Sakes and drinks to choose from. As the night wore on and other tables demanded his attention he was harder to reach. A few times when we tried called him over the noise completely drowned out our voices. Busy!
I can't remember all of the dishes we ordered that night, however I figured we made at least a 60% dent of the menu items available. The handwritten menu with the specials on it were hard to read with the way the author tried to cram everything into one page.
A few standout dishes that I remember. The salted raw octopus with wasabi was very interesting. It was chewy in texture and slimy. The hit of wasabi was a little too strong for my liking and the tiny-sized pieces were hard to pick up. Oddly enough I kept going for it throughout the night. The Kobe steak was delicious. I've had it a few times only and it has been the same time - succulent. It was just a small piece (a few ounces) cut into 15-18 bite size pieces. The ox tongue and pork cheek was tender and something different. The Salmon Sashimi was sliced thinly and nicely garnished. The Chicken Karaage came with 3 types of dipping salt to sample from. A little offbeat however no complaints. The fondue was an unusually addictive selection, with pieces of bread doused in cheeses and a tangy tomato sauce. Plate presentation was creative and pleasant to look at.
There were the typical menu items scattered throughout (Ebi Mayo, House Rolls) which allow you to get your favourites and be a little daring as well with the other dishes.
The common theme here was that the dishes were smallish compared to other Izakayas. More suited for 2-3 person dining although I'm not complaining too much; it allows you to try as much as you can on the menu. Prices were par with similar establishments although the "bang for the buck" value is made up for with their excellent non-pretentious presentation and unique offerings.
The place is small so be prepared to bump elbows a little. Come here if you want to have a great time and great food. Easily the best Izakaya in town to date.
Went there on a weeknight and surprised to find it almost full. Server recommended several dishes and tried the ahi tuna - great, beef tataki-great, seared scallops-great, beef tongue cooked on a hot stone - great, sukiyaki-great, ox tail - not so good, deep fried shrimp and rice ball - average. The service was very good and food came quite quick. Nice ambiance and value is considered pretty good for all of the dishes tried. Selection of sake is quite large.
We came here for a small (5 person) birthday dinner recently. Always wanted to try it so we gave it a shot since I heard good things. It was a Saturday night and the place was packed with a lineup up front. Glad we had reservations.
We were seated near the back by the kitchen/washrooms. The ambience is different. Clean (but dim) lighting worked well together with the crowd and I really liked the greenery that was centered up front. We were immediately served steaming hot hand towels moments after we sat down. Very nice touch! Our server for the night was very busy but he was friendly and very helpful while we were deciding on what Sakes and drinks to choose from. Unfortunately as the night wore on and other tables demanded his attention he was hard to reach. A few times when we tried called him over the noise completely drowned out our voices. Busy!
I honestly can't remember all of the dishes we ordered (we ordered at least 60% of the menu). The handwritten menu with the specials on it were incredibly hard to read with the way the author tried to cram everything into one page.
A few standout dishes that I remember. The salted raw octopus with wasabi was very interesting. It was chewy in texture and slimy. The hit of wasabi was a little too strong for my liking and the tiny-sized pieces were hard to pick up. Oddly enough I kept going for it throughout the night. The Kobe steak was delicious. I've had it a few times only and it has been the same time - succulent. It was just a small piece (a few ounces) cut into 15-18 bite size pieces. The ox tongue and pork cheek was tender and something different. The Salmon Sashimi was sliced thinly and nicely garnished. Really all the dishes were good. Plate presentation was creative and pleasant to look at.
There were the typical menu items scattered throughout (Ebi Mayo, Chicken Karaage, House Rolls) which allow you to get your favourites and be a little daring as well with the other dishes.
The common theme here was that the dishes were small compared to other Izakayas. More suited for 2-3 person dining although I'm not complaining too much; it allows you to try as much as you can on the menu. Prices were par with similar establishments.
The place is small so be prepared to bump elbows. Come here if you want to have a great time and great food.
The hype about Kingyo is true, the place does have energy and the service something you dream about these days. Very attentive, friendly servers and the food well presented and tasty. The crab cake was a bit insipid but the tempura prawns and spring rolls more than made up for that and the Tiger beer went well with all the dishes. I loved the creative ambience and the way couples could sit up on stools facing others from a comfortable distance. This place will definately last on Denman Street!
I finally had my chance to experience Kingyo last night - well worth the visit! Sister and cousin by my side, we arrived after 9:30pm. There was no line-up (not something you see during weekends), but it was still busy and we still had to wait about 10-15 minutes. The ambiance is dark and cozy and had a special "asian" charm. Great decor, but chairs were a little uncomfortable. After pulling my seat in, my thigh was right up againt the table - no crossing legs here.
The food packed wonderful flavors. I was really surprised at the cold tofu and okra appie. When it arrived, I expected bland tasting firm tofu straight out of a SunRise package. the dish was tangy, sweet, salty all at the same time. It actually did not taste like soy at all. Allergic to shellfish, I was able to eat any of the prawn dishes. They were very well-received by my sister and cousin. Of the six dishes we ordered, all were very delicious and were great izakaya food. The meal was a little expensive for the amount of food we got - 6 dishes and tea for $52, but taste was worth it.
Not recommended for a place to hold conversations though.
Just a block away from Zakkushi, there are some familiar faces like one of the servers I could almost swear she was from Zakkushi or Kintaro though my companion swears it's the former. Though the usual loud greetings & partings are called out, it felt more like it's a part of playing the hip & friendly Japanese hangout than being a heartfelt friendly greeting.
The menu sports a nice variety of foods including all of the common izakaya items. Though the prices are similar to that of, say, Hapa Izakaya, the portions are definitely smaller here (eg. Mentaiko Kimchi Udon $7.80). On the menu, they explain the different salts they use, but they fail to warn you that quite a few of their dishes, especially the grilled fish (~$7.80) comes a little too generously salted--it's not all because of the seasalt or whatnot used, but also because of the choice of sauce for the dish. That aside, a lot of the items have great potential. Nothing is particularly bad, but nothing stood out too much either. The tofu custard dessert is better at Hapa, but the green tea (rice) pudding is quite interesting here & only @$3.50 a pop. Some of what is included in the menu description was absent in the actual dish when presented, but it's probably just a matter of the current chef of the night needing to familiarize himself w/ the menu/recipe a fellow chef came up w/.
The decor is a trendy mix of Asian, w/ the wood chairs (comfort or there lack of aside) & tables/counters. The bamboo "wall" in the centre of the communal bar makes for less awkward communal sharing while being quite pretty to look at. The restrooms are spacious enough w/ a separate men's vs women's room.
I will definitely return but possibly give them a few more weeks or months to smooth out things & change the music. W/ all of the conversational noise & the decor & the cuisine, the instrumental jazz music playing that night didn't quite suit the atmosphere at all.
Finally, after a couple of poor dining experiences a good one. I was beginning to think I should just throw in the towel and eat at home from now on.
Dropped by Kingyo yesterday for lunch with two friends. Just before 1pm the place was very busy however the friendly server told us to wait a moment and she'd have a table ready for us soon. Indeed she did.
I haven't really experienced this sort of Japanese food before, it's not a sushi place, so I had no idea what to order. I went with the lunch special of the day that included two types of fish, some miso soup, a bowl of rice and a few little vegetables. For $10.80 a very reasonable deal.
When the dish arrived it looked quite interesting. Mackerel and a piece of Black Cod that was to die for. The Cod was buttery and rich and came with a nice sauce. The portion size was not huge but for the price worth it. The Black Cod on it's own was well worth it.
Service was very solid. Our green tea tea pot was filled when asked immediately and our server was very pleasant with a nice smile on her face, good to see. They have this thing where they great customers who come into the restaurant and leave. All staff say something in Japanese at once , probably "thank you for coming " or something like that. I'm sure it's not "see you later, suckers" because quite honestly Kingyo is offering up a very nice dining experience.
Dining 2012 is off to a good start. I plan to return soon.
The 16 piece lunch set was unbelievably delicious…just all these perfectly tiny portions of exquisite foods. It was like a dream meal for me. I enjoyed trying to figure out what some of the foods were, and the waitress was really sweet, even with her broken English, she did her best to explain everything to me. The dessert…crème brulee which the chef came over and personally recommended, was lovely.
The other lunch items are also well-done, but you could find it at other good Japanese restaurants around town. That 16-piece lunch set stands out for kingyo.
A beautiful restaurant and excellent staff.
I came here last night for a late night snack with my bf after hearing so many + comments from my friends. We arrived at 11:20 and we were gladly surprised that they still allowed us in considering that they close at 11:30. There was another table in the house and we were the 2nd table. Soon after we were seated we were given wet towels and ask for our orders. We ordered 5 mins after that and since we weren't hungry at all, we just ordered 4 dishes. Jap scallop sashimi was super fresh and very sweet, very different from the other sashimi carpaccios in town. Their amaebi (sweet prawn) were a bargain, only $8 for about 6 to 8 pieces and of course it was very good. The nice touch to the sashimi was that they use freshly grated wasabi which is very tasty and proves that they're higher end than other sushi bars. We also ordered the (marinated?) beef tongue that we have to cook ourselves on the hot stone which was very interesting, we had fun cooking. We weren't so adventurous in the drinking part cuz I already had a few glasses of shiraz b4 I came here, so we just ordered the large house sake. We'll try the martinis next time.
The service was amazing. Servers were attentive, polite, and they smile. :) So, i'll definitely come back again.
Just went to kingyo last night, been there a few times before and nothing has changed, except the specials. The food was awesome, nice presentation, good flavours, and perfect sizes. salmon carpaccio and yuzu jalenpeno pasta were top notch. and all the seafood, (sushi, sashimi) are super fresh. Service was excellent as well, very attentive, never had a empty beer all night. I'll be back again for sure!
Fantastic room and friendly service by the japanese staff. The Kobe beef and ungagi bowl were outstanding as well the selection of sashimi. Somewhat loud but part of the ambiance. Small wine and cocktail list with Asian inspired cocktails. The wine's by the glass don't really work with the food so we stayed with the cocktails.
Significantly more grown-up in feel than its Guu counterparts, Kingyo makes a powerful impression for a izakaya. Its faux concrete finishes, use of Japanese tile and natural dark woods, plus a bamboo "forest" focal point at the communal table all contribute to the minimalist tranquil beauty that the Japanese are known for.
Food was great and it was clearly a busy Saturday night. Me and my girlfriend ordered a Wasabi-Octobpus appetizer, Daily sashimi special (3 kinds of sashimi), Grilled Mackerel with Tomatoes, and onion-soy sauce, Chicken Karaage, and finally, Eel rice in stone bowl. Stand out was the scallop sashimi from the pricey sashimi special (15 dollars for 3 slivers each of ahi tuna, scallop, and snapper - lovely presentation). The best raw piece of scallop I ever had - sweet and succulent. The Chicken Karaage was also excellent - the lightest and most pillowy fried nuggets available, with 3 kinds of salts to dip with plus mayo sauce. The only bad dish I could recall was the mackerel - as the previous reviewer noted - excessively salty.
I would go again, and will probably recommend it for small parties of 6 or less people. Somewhat more expensive but Kingyo's attention to detail makes it worthwhile.
It is good.
The service was very helpful and friendly. Smiles, efficiency, recommendations, and please-and-thank-yous. What more can you ask for?
The food was very strong, indeed. I most particularly enjoyed the salmon sushi. I found it to be the most authentic in Vancouver, yet. Every dish that came was enjoyed by the 4 people in our party. I found one of the sashimi dishes to be a bit slimy in a sticky way, indicating to me that it could use a stronger acid counterpoint in the presentation (they do serve their sashimi on a bed of greens and vinagrette, so a sharper vinagrette would have been nice). But this is the only point to note.
We ate, and ate and ate and ate. We kept ordering this and that - fresh, grilled, meats, fish, you name it. We had a bottle of wine, too. It came to less than $170. For 4 adults who got full, with booze, that's not bad at all.
The ambience is really nice, though I'd give it a 5 if it didn't have those infernal wooden benches to sit on, and that seem to be all the rage right now. :(
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will absolutely be back. Soon, too, I hope.
I love Kingyo for their amazing decor, the ambiance in here is great, it makes you feel like you are dining in Japan! There is a bamboo counter table in the middle of the restaurant which I absolutely love. I come to Kingyo because I know my dinner would be great no matter what I eat, everything on the menu is really good! I came in the summer and I had a drink served in a bamboo straw, it was so refreshing! Service is amazing here, all the people that work here makes a great effort to make your evening fabulous. Nice loud greet in Japanese as you enter, you are seated with hot towels and a drink and special tea menu. I love the salmon sashimi here with the special quality soy sauce that accompanies your sashimi. The salmon carpaccio with wasabi mayo and garlic chips is another one of my favs. The soft steamed bun with juicy pork belly inside is incredibly yummy and tender. The ebi mayo is a must have. The crab croquette is very creamy and delicious! The unagi hot stone bowl rice is also really good, its hot enough to cook an egg in there, they mix it for you and wait for the egg to cook and its ready to eat, this dish is very good! The grilled black cod is just perfect! Must try the green tea creme brulee, I never leave without this one!
We were headed to Zakkushi only to find the kitchen closed. So we walked on and came across Kingyo. I remember reading good things about it and in we went.
While going through the menu, we noticed 2 guys in kitchen attire drinking with some customers. One of them downed a whole jug of beer in a gulp. Hmmm ... Throughout dinner, I was expecting a severed finger in my food ;-)
Food was hit and miss.
Hit - tuna with avocado, croquette (though I did not taste any crab or clams in it), pork cheek, yellowtail sashimi (hard to get this wrong).
Miss (as in decent and not worth the price) - Beef tataki, sukiyaki, salmon nigri (this is bad, never had such huge amount of rice in my nigri before), Cha Shu rolls.
I totally enjoyed the room, although the bamboo in the middle of the room seems to be frying up.
Service was good. Well, service has always been good in a Japanese-run place. Bonus was i could I understand the server's English!
Return? Very likely. But only if Zakkushi is closed or full. Anybody ever wondered why these izakaya places charge you for a slice of lemon/lime with your drinks?
Kingyo is, as other reviewers have said, a more sophisticated Guu. I went at around 8pm on a weekday and the place was buzzing.
What I love about Kingyo is the energy - all the waitstaff are *always* busy, but never too busy to greet / serve / wait on you when needed.
We grabbed a spot by the bar and were promptly served with warm towels and tea. We ordered the chicken and jellyfish appy, "chopped sashimi sushi", ebi mayo, grilled black cod, kim chi udon, and another ebi mayo (because we're trained piglets. oink.).
It was hard to pick a favourite. I would recommend all the dishes, but particularly the chopped sashimi sushi because it was so original and tasty.
The Kingyo crowd is more mature than the following Guu Izakaya has, and this means that the ecclectic atmosphere is slightly subdued (although orders and greetings are still called out), seating is more comfortable and spacious, and the prices are slightly more than what you would pay for at Guu.
I think I've found my new Izakaya.
My wife and I have been wanting to try Kingyo since it first opened but just didn't make it until recently. I knew it was going to be a good night out when I found free parking about 2 minutes from the restaurant!
It was a Thursday night about 7:00 and we were lucky to get seats at the big central table right away. The hostess and waitresses were all very efficient and pleasant with better English skills than at some izakaya. The food was served quickly and tea and water refilled as needed. We never had to look for service. The only slight downside of this service was the not-quite-pushy sales technique of our particular waitress who was a consumate salesperson which didn't bother us but could become an annoyance for some people.
It's a nice room, deceptively simple but with enough authentic decorations to show that the design has been considered to make a comfortable dining experience. We sat at the big central table where you sit next to other parties, but with the tall bamboo in the middle of the table you don't feel like you're sitting directly across from other people. The section of Japanese roof tiles above the sushi bar is also a nice touch.
But what about the food? We were not disappointed with anything we ordered, if not overwhelmed. The karaage was excellent - meaty, crispy, and tasty. It comes with three kinds of salt which on the finger do taste slightly different, but don't make too much difference once you dip the chicken in. The sashimi salad was good with a reasonable serving of hamachi and... I forget the other fish now on a bed of mixed greens with a nice dressing. The beef tongue is served raw with a very hot rock to cook it on yourself. If you think the rock will cool off too quickly to cook the meat enough, don't worry. I'm a big tongue fan and this was a special treat. The calamari was quite good as well. Not the best I've ever had, but the shiso salsa was good.
I had the kingyo cocktail which is shochu based. It was a pretty typical "sour" with the addition of a little gold pepper (?) that looked like a goldfish in the drink. I nice touch for their signature drink.
Kingyo isn't the cheapest izakaya out there, but the food quality is consistently good. The menu is somewhat smaller than other places which I think helps to ensure that each dish is more carefully constructed. The quality/volume/price ratio is fair and won't kill your wallet.
If there weren't so many other izakaya out there we'd probably be back soon. Alas, there are other places to get to before a return visit. But I think that Kingyo is going to be around for a while, so I'm sure we'll have the chance.