Finally. It’s taken a long time, but it’s here. Perhaps the best sushi in town has arrived to Roosevelt tér at the bottom of the Spenót ház and next to the Four Seasons hotel.

It comes to us as a the new venture of the Leroy people, who have brought such great things to town as the Leroy chain of restaurants and bars, the Tom George and the soon to be opened RumPuncs on Erzsébet square. These people know what it takes to open a successful restaurant, although I would argue that they are more business minded and trying to go more for consistently reliable standards rather than experimenting with novelties and going for top of the range cuisine. Kyoto in a way follows this trend and is the product of a very business-savvy mind.

We’ve seen millions of examples of top sushi places set in the most frequented spots in town – like De Niro’s and Nobu Matsuhisa’s „Nobu” restaurant on Park Lane and Mayfair in London, or Masa in the Time Warner Center at the corner of Central Park. Sushi has become a BIG THING and I deliberately put this is in capital letters to stress the point. Bloggers from around the world are becoming addicted to all varieties of Japanese food including sushi, sashimi, tempura, teppanyaki, ramen, gyoza and the likes. Their taste in sushi is also becoming more and more refined as they aim to go for the best cuts of tuna (otoro) and the wildest variety of seafood including uni (sea urchin), abalone, oysters and even shirako (grilled sperm sac!). For more on this subject please see Chuck’s blog for more information on how sushi should really look like and taste like.

The Leroy guys have created what is closest to average good quality sushi in any Western city. Now I don’t say this lightly. Most people here in Budapest have absolutely no idea what sushi should be about in terms of the quality and consistency of rice they are eating and the quality of the fish and shrimps they get. Leroy is partly responsible for this, because they have spread sushi culture around promoting in their restaurants everywhere, serving up standard seafood and very very average sushi. In fact, I think people felt that sushi was all about crab sticks, salmon, cucumbers and avocado in different shapes and sizes. Well, it’s not. I remember being stuck in a New York hotel last summer – not able to go out on the street because of the torrential rainfall – and ordering sushi delivery from a place called Sushi Paradise, who happened to slip a leaflet under my door that day. It was simply amazing – not only the rice, the quality and taste of the fish, but the creativity that the chef showed was simply astounding, nothing like we had seen before. Some maki rolls had tempura crab, mango and tobiko on them. Others came with specially created dips and sauces not the boring wasabi and soy combination only. If only we had a place like this in Budapest... Not the Masa kind, but just an honest, creative good sushi place.

Kyoto has everything it needs for success – simple wooden furniture, very spartan decor fitting to a Japanese restaurant (although it would look better with more people inside), an open kitchen with about 5 Japanese chefs and a large bar area.

We start off our dinner with a spicy prawn Ramen, which is a dark soy-infused, meat based broth with a couple of king prawns floating on top.

I was expecting a lighter broth, sort of clear or milky white colour, but this one was more of a „shoyu” or soy sauce ramen. The warmth of the soup was welcoming, but the taste could have been more intense.

Next came some tempura prawns in a very light, almost airy batter. Most places tend not to use the right ingredients (meaning batter) for making their tempura here, but this one was perfect. It came with a satay type of peanut dipping sauce and some soy and vinegar sauce.

Unfortunately I couldn’t jot down the various types of rolls that we had, but you can immediately spot the difference in the attached pictures. Note the size of some of the rolls like the one with smoked salmon, asparagus, dried onion flakes. Huge! Then the one with eel, cucumber and cream cheese. Notice that all the rolls have something special about them – the special sauce on top or the unique mix of the ingredients. Also notice the nice and fat slices of salmon sashimi in the bento box. Also notice how good the rice looks – and also how great it tastes! Compared to the utterly terrible Wasabi running sushi with its crunchy (!), uncooked rice, small/skinny pieces of fish and poor stir fry dishes this was absolute heaven.

Japanese are not really famous for desserts except for the sweet bean pastes, green tea ice cream and various forms of jelly. But Kyoto serves up an absolutely superb orange crème brulee, which - contrary to its originally custard version-, came with vanilla ice cream, orange cuts in a sweet orange sauce and the obligatory layer of warm, hard caramel on top. Heavenly.

We did order more than we should have - about 50% more, but for all of the above we paid a whopping 15 thousand a head with very minimal alcohol consumed, so Kyoto is not a cheap experience, but an experience that should be tried for all sushi lovers out there.

Overall 7,5/10
V. Roosevelt tér

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