Vancouver appears to be the breeder of these blossoming Izakaya spots, with Zakkushi, Guu (Now, Kinka Izakaya) and Hapa Izakaya also caving the way. Unlike the earlier three mentioned Izakayas, Kingyo presents a brightly lit and spacious dining area with low bustle with hot foods ready to order and chilled dishes to your taste. It’s my second return to Kingyo, and I have returned to admiring it’s delectable and thoughful presentation and of course, the walls decorated throughout with in blinking Pachinko machines.
In celebration of Kingyo’s three-year presence in Cabbagetown, they have three food specials, including a chef-selected “Kingyo Jewelry Box”, $9.99 pitchers and a free gift upon your visit for lunch or dinner until Dec. 25th.
Kingyo, means “goldfish” in Japanese, and we were the lucky bunch that had a chance to dine at the in-built fish tank table thanks to a media tasting evening celebrating Kingyo’s 3rd anniversary organized by Yuki of pekopekolife. The night began with sake-bombs for all, a sake cup propped up by a pair of chopsticks and sploshed into a mug of 1/4 filled Sapporo after the chant of the Sake Bomb song: “Sake bomb, Sake bomb, Sake bomb bomb!”
Then, a great *hulk smash* of the table. Yuki was a professional sake-bomb-smasher from her heavy experience with this beverage, all of us rookies couldn’t compare to her strength and quickness, Jagerbombs are not hard work at all.
The Goldfish cocktail with the chili pepper floating amidst was an amusing must-order for me, especially since we were sitting at a table filled with gold fishes! It was well right on the sweeter and carbonated side, I’m glad I started with this, we are going smoother from here!
Kingyo has a sake exclusively crafted and exported by them from Suehiro Brewer, Japan, this sake is guaranteed to be the best combination to enjoy with the dishes at Kingyo. The Kingyo Premium Sake is adjusted yearly according to the changing tastes, the sake was incredibly smooth and had a very balanced sweetness. AKA, not one to do Sake bombs with.
Next came, my ultimate favourite, the Tako Wasabi. Tako Wasabi is a mix of diced octopus marinated with wasabi stems and kelp served wrapped into a sheet of nori. I had no idea that Kingyo offers the portion to be served up raw, cooked… or in a half & half ratio, I’ve only often times had the cooked version, but both are of my admiration.
Also included is Kingyo’s original pickle, the Kyuri Kimuchio that is Kimuchi marinated with sesame, along with the Spicy Pan-fried Lotus Roots, created with seven flavours from a powder derived from ginger, yuzu orange peel, white sesame, black sesame, SANSHO pepper, red pepper and seaweed. The lotus was beautifully flavoured and had the hard bite we know and love, the cucumber sticks had a tasty seasoning with a hint of pepper.
Deep-fried tofu sizzling with a pour of thick mushroom paste in a hot stone bowl, this dish the favourite of the table, the paste held a gooey consistency with the soft tofu. Kingyo creates two styles of deep-fried chicken, a karaage stemming inspiration form “O-sho”, a popular restaurant in Japan for their tasty pepper mix, and one bearing a Diablo chili sauce to dip. My favourite was the unexpected tasty pepper mix, talk about crack… It’s the same satisfaction I get from dipping pineapple into a salt-chili mixture… I am salivating.
If there will be one dish I would re-order for dinner, it will most certainly be the Tuna Tataki, a seared ahi-tuna toppled with ponzu jelly and garlic chips, reminiscent of a salad, it is a constantly refreshing favourite with the citrus from the “dressing” and creamy flavour of ponzu.
Kingyo brings fun to your table with a cook-it-yourself concept of their Stone Grill Beef Tongue, presenting a hot stone to sizzle slices of beef tongue over, pairing with green onion, yuzu pepper, coriander sauce and a lemon of your choosing.
There must be more to this 3rd year anniversary celebration, shouldn’t there! There truly is, as apart of the food specials, there is the exclusive Kingyo Appetizer Jewelry Box shown above, in servings of 8 various chef-chosen small dishes. Along with the fun “Jewelry Box”, an original Grilled Bone Marrow ($11.8) that is served with a special mix of Miso and Shiso, and lastly a Hot Stone Bown Unagi Don ($12.8), an eel on rice served with a house-special blend of unagi sauce – see end of post for images.
In addition, from Dec. 11th to 25th pitchers of Sapporo are available for only $9.99 and from Dec. 18th to 25th, diners are entered into a raffle for with each purchase of over $10 for lunch and $30 for dinner (excluding tax) for a chance to win special prizes!
I found two absolute favourites of desserts, the Matcha Creme Brulee was absolutely delightful, served in a toast-shape, it was an unexpected bite of glory mixed with the shipped cream and red bean sauce, I also of course envied the Matcha & Black Sesame Gelato, regular, but so rich and authentic in flavour. I am hardly a fan of matcha flavoured items, but these two stole my heart.
Kingyo yet again, holds a fantastic night to enjoy with great company, the food encouraged conversation and constant admiration, my absolute dish favourites of tonight are the Tako Wasabi (half & half), Aburi Shime Saba Battera (wet, and sweeter, different!), Garlic Tuna Tataki & Ponxu Jelly, O-Sho Karaage, Cabbage Town is Sprouting, Stone Bowl Mushroom Tofu and the Matcha Creme Brulee.
Thank you to our host Sissi, wonderful organizer Yuki and Kingyo for allowing my to join you for your three-year celebration, I cannot wait to return.
Explore more about Kingyo, here:
Disclosure: I was invited for a complimentary tasting to Kingyo and was thrilled to accept as I have been a long-time fan since my initial visit. Opinions are my own.