Clanging spatulas, banging drums and flashes of fire makes great culinary theater at Kyoto Steakhouse of Japan. But the fiery grills don’t outshine the food on a menu that is both creative and authentic.
Extensive dining options range from sushi to stir-fry to “East meets West” inspired fusion plates. All are served traditionally in Kyoto’s dinning rooms, bar-side lounge or its popular, high-energy communal hibachi grill tables.
“It takes years to master the hibachi and it takes lots of hand /eye coordination,” said Kyoto co-owner Amy Chook. Her business partner, Chef Tony Lin, agrees. He exhibits his hibachi mastery daily.
Hibachi is listed on the menu as teppanyaki, which translates to open kitchen.
“Hibachi is very popular because people like both the food and the entertainment. They also like it because it’s chef-driven. The grill master [chef] comes and cooks for the customer. If you like to have fun, do the hibachi,” Chook suggested.
According to Kyoto general manager James Caldwell, about 70 percent of customers opt for the hibachi/teppanyaki experience. Once guests are seated, the chef begins by lighting the grill. After the fire dies out, soup and salads arrive and rice, noodles and veggies are seasoned, sauced and stir-fried before your eyes.
When the veggies appear it’s time for the diners to choose how involved they wish to be in the table theatrics. Some become active participants, trying to catch broccoli florets in their mouths, tossed their way by the chef.
The hibachi experience is driven by a diner’s choice of protein, steak, chicken or a bounty of seafood, including lobster, scallops and halibut. The most popular customer pick is steak, especially the jalapeno-laced Spicy Sukiyaki Steak, a variation of the teriyaki-sauced Sukiyaki-style steak. Those who find it hard to decide can simply order a combo such as the Kyoto Special, a mix of steak, shrimp and chicken, or make their own combo from a short list that includes additional seafood choices, including Mahi-Mahi, salmon and calamari.
“While people like hibachi we also have dining experiences,” Chook said. “Our dining room menu has lots of choice – bento boxes, Asian fusion dinners, sashimi and sushi.”
According to Chook, anything on the menu can be ordered anywhere in the restaurant. No matter how it’s cooked, which includes Kyoto’s cozy bar and its traditional dining rooms.
The traditional dining menu combines Japanese and Chinese dishes with a chef’s specialty section of fusion entrées featuring western ingredients such as the butter-sauced Baked Sea Bass and the unexpected French Rack of Lamb. Classic Chinese dishes such as Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Mongolian Beef or General Tso’s Chicken also are sure to delight. All entrées include soup and a house salad.
“We make everything fresh,” said Chook. “We make all our own sauces and dressing and use only quality ingredients.”
Sushi fans won’t be disappointed at Kyoto. There are over 50 creative roll varieties, making Kyoto’s sushi roster one of the more extensive lists in St. Charles County. Kyoto also offers a selection of “cooked” or non-raw fish rolls.
Monday through Saturday, Kyoto offers an all-you-can-eat Sushi lunch that is a great opportunity for die-hard sushi aficionados and nervous novices.
“We are always presenting more for the customer to enjoy,” Chook said. “No one will leave hungry.”