by The Great Foodini
For the casual diner delving into the world of Japanese cuisine, the exotic-sounding dishes, foreign-sounding ingredients and style of cooking can be daunting.
Kyoto Japanese Cuisine in Ocean Springs has a positive outlook on gaining new customers and is dedicated to purchasing as much seafood on their menu from local distributors like Desportes to provide customers with fresh gulf coast seafood.
“We hear from non or first-time customers that they aren’t sure about Kyoto because they don’t eat raw fish,” said Co-owner, Tuyen Tran. “There is so much more here than sushi and raw fish. Most people are very pleased with many of our shrimp or steak dishes,” she explained.
The menu (or food novel rather) is 11 pages deep with more than 30 appetizers from everything to perfectly grilled shrimp skewers drenched with a delicious and savory homemade teriyaki sauce to the crowd favorite hello boom boom, which is a golden-fried shrimp or calamari served with a mild honey sauce.
An often-overlooked appetizer is the cheesy and savory Sliced New York Strip rolled with mozzarella and scallions drizzled in their signature teriyaki.
For the second round, fresh-catch aficionados will love the seafood soup, a hearty bowl of shrimp, scallops, clams, fish and vegetables.
For the Japanese cuisine traditionalist, the house salad is good, but typical. The ginger dressing however is made in-house from fresh ingredients and gives it an authentic taste and feel. For the more adventurous gourmand, the baby octopus salad is a healthy portion of whole baby octopi served in sesame seeds and cucumber marinated in a tangy ponzu sauce.
For the carbivores in the crowd, Kyoto serves several Japanese noodle dishes like Yaki Udon, which is a dish of stir-fried Japanese noodles with chicken, beef, shrimp and veggies. Diners can also choose from pad thai or fried rice.
A la Carte lunch items are popular with dozens of quick and affordable options like bento boxes, hibachi and sushi rolls.
The steak teriyaki is arguably the best you will find in any Japanese restaurant on the coast. The teriyaki sauce, which is made in house, is slow-cooked for hours in the kitchen. The cooks begin to arrive each day to make all the sauces on the menu in house before the sun comes up each day.
The demand for sushi chefs in South Mississippi is tough. Supply is limited, but Kyoto management has noticed a huge following from their master sushi chef who has experience with other notable restaurants in the region like Jia in the IP Casino Resort.
The sushi rolls in Kyoto are huge. One roll will leave most diners satisfied. Many of their rolls are so large that one single piece is way more than a mouthful.
Kyoto has only been open since January and is learning how to reach new customers with promotions and advertising, but Tran believes the quality and service will win the crowd over and wear out the hinges of the front doors.
“We have a large menu, but we put as much attention as possible into every individual dish,” said Tran. “We are looking to include everyone. Lunches are quick and affordable. Dinners are not too high end to keep people on a budge away, but not too low end to sacrifice quality. We strive to maintain a balance between high quality and affordable prices,” Tran explained.
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