My last trip to San Francisco was carefully planned around culinary destinations. Visits to wineries and various technology destinations were scheduled before and after meals. In fact, the trip was planned after a French Laundry reservation, made 2 months in advance.
Every meal was perfectly scheduled, except for the last, when dare I say I decided to be spontaneous. From my experience in New York, spontaneous dining decisions usually ends in disappointment. Coming off a series of solid meals, this was quite a risk. Having developed a small craving for Japanese food, but without the will to travel to Japantown, Google map brought us to San Francisco’s Palace Hotel and Restaurant Kyo Ya.
The Palance Hotel gives visitors a sense of splendor from a bygone era. Much the same could be said about Kyo-Ya. The decoration was very simple, very clean, yet still distinctly westernized, as if to make the introduction to Japanese cuisine to foreigners less intimidating. In some ways the restaurant reminded me a lot of Hatsuhana in New York, another restaurant that reigned in another era.
Settling down at the sushi bar, the sushi chef seemed genuinely happy to greet sushi fanatics from NY. I ordered the omakase, but requested to change one of the nigiri pieces to uni. The chef smiled and agreed without hesitation.
The pieces of nigiri sushi was very good. Not transcending, then again I was not expecting it to be. While everyone on Yelp is arguing over whether fish is “fresh”, I generally take that as a given and look into the art and skill of making sushi. The chefs at Kyo-Ya are very skilled.
I was also very pleased when he handed over a mound of real grated wasabi in a separate bowl. A great gesture to someone who can appreciate the difference (and in some cases eat the freshly grated green stuff for fun).
Of course, not everything is peachy. The prices are quite high, perhaps to justify the location. Service is spotty, though the TV with baseball playoffs was to blame. Then again, why is there a TV?
Kyo-Ya has seen better days, but it is still an above average sushi restaurant where the chefs respect the art and skill of sushi making.
What does this rating mean?
2 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105