Forbes Best US Restaurant-55-Kyo Ya, New York, NY
94 E 7th St New York, NY 10009 United States
The restaurants in what could be called the East Village’s Little Tokyo typically stick to modest grub (ramen, yakitori, and other fun food sold in izakayas). Kyo Ya, however, offers a glimpse of kaiseki, the intricate Japanese meal originally served during a formal Japanese tea ceremony. Even if you don’t spring for the $120-plus tasting menu—which requires at least a day’s notice—you can try plenty of the cuisine’s complex and occasionally esoteric dishes here a la carte. Delicate monkfish liver, often described as foie gras of the sea, lies in an umami-rich dashi-based sauce; sweet, faintly peppery grated daikon brightens the liver’s richness. An order of bozushi (a type of pressed sushi) presents rectangles of tangy rice, each topped by a sweet, buttery slice of marinated mackerel. The setting—an elegant union of handsome woods, soft lighting, and minimalist flora—echoes the meticulous arrangement of the food. Still, the neighborhood and the young crowd make Kyo Ya feel more easygoing than formal. — JJ Goode
Kaiseki dinner, $95-$150; bozushi, $26; monkfish liver, MP
Mon-Sat, 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sun, 5:30pm-10:30pm
NEARBY SUBWAY STOPS
L at First Ave.; F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
- Dine at the Bar
- Good for Groups
- Open Kitchens / Watch the Chef
- Special Occasion
- Beer and Wine Only
- Sake and Sojou
The name Kyo Ya either means everything to you or absolutely nothing. It’s easy for those unfamiliar to ignore Kyo Ya as just another of the many NYC Japanese restaurants whose names contains “Ya” in it. But don’t be silly. Kyo Ya is a name you need to know, and it’s no ordinary East Village establishment. This place owns a cult following as intense as any restaurant that exists in this city. If you take your Japanese food seriously, than you’re probably already know all this. After all, Kyo Ya has three stars from the NY Times and is one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in this neighborhood. Adding to their laundry list of accolades, Kyo Ya also now has an 8.5 rating on Immaculate Infatuation. You can retire content now, Chef Chikara Sono.
Want to impress someone who loves Japanese food? Bring them to Kyo Ya. The unmarked subterranean restaurant is a unique and amazing place. It’s a dining experience that seriously stands out, makes you feel special, and leaves you wanting more. When investing a good chunk of money in a meal, that’s exactly how we want to feel. This isn’t your typical Japanese style omakase situation of being sped through 20 different pieces of fish on rice. Kyo Ya is a kaiseki style Japanese meal, which according to our research (Wikipedia), is a “type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food.” Think Blue Hill, but for Japanese food.
You won’t find typical sushi here. Aside from their signature pressed sushi, the raw part of the menu is all sashimi and not just any sashimi – this is fish of the highest quality that’s been labored over, dressed up, and served in one of many beautiful handmade vessels. The menu is mainly cooked dishes of all different styles, textures, and flavors – many of which you’ve never tasted or heard of before.
Speaking of service, that’s one of the best parts about Kyo Ya. When dining here, you’re immediately made to feel a part of the Kyo Ya family. The staff are warm, friendly, and attentive. The menu can be confusing, but they make it a point to offer up an education, which we greatly appreciate. You can get the full experience with one of their $95, $120 or $150 tasting menus (all of which must be arranged at least a day prior), but sitting at the bar, ordering a la carte, and watching Chef Sono do his thing is how we usually do it. There’s a permanent menu of Kyo Ya fan favorites, and also a seasonal menu that’s always changing. No two trips to Kyo Ya will ever be the same, and that’s exactly why we like it so much.