Thursday, September 25, 2008

Out Of Town: Kyoto Japanese Restaurant, Rolla MO

Restaurant: Kyoto Japanese Restaurant
Address: 1002 N Bishop Ave, Rolla, MO
Website: None that I saw.
Genres: Sushi, Chinese
Check Constraints: None noted.

  • Dumplings in Red Oil ($4.95)
  • Sushi Set B ($12.50)
    • 4 Sushi (Chef's choice)
    • Spicy Tuna Roll
    • Soup
    • Salad
Once again, we were in Rolla, Missouri for our twice-annual visit. We only reviewed one restaurant this time, since we took things a little easier - Mecha, ND and I were all trying to decompress from work. It's almost a two-for-one deal, though, since Kyoto doesn't just do Japanese food and sushi, but does some interesting Chinese food as well. In its newer location along the "main drag" of Rolla, Kyoto has plenty of room inside, if not necessarily plenty of parking. The interior is fairly traditional in style, with several booths providing you the option of sitting with your legs underneath you.

But enough about the building. Onto the food! The dumplings were essentially large circular potstickers - meat and cabbage inside a layer of dough. They were steamed, and served in a bowl with a spoon, much like some sort of strange meatball cereal. They were also extremely hot, so be careful and let it cool before you spoon one into your mouth whole with eager anticipation, like I did. The "red oil" portion of the appetizer is a chili-flavored sesame oil, with which the dumplings were dressed. It added a nice peppery flavor and though I could have (of course) stood more heat, they were still deliciously spicy. Definitely Would Eat Again.

As with a lot of sushi places, the dinner I ordered came with soup and salad. The salad was good, although suffered from the "iceberg lettuce is the only lettuce" problem a lot of places have. Still, you get your fiber where you can. The soup was good, with what seemed to be an onion base - it had a deliciously oniony flavor to it. Still, a cup of it was probably enough. I don't think I'd opt for the bowl.

The sushi here was good. I wouldn't classify it as fantastic, though it's certainly not the worst sushi I've ever had. But given the circumstances - a college town in the middle of Missouri - it's got some remarkable tastiness to it. Granted, I have a very liberal hand with the wasabi so I'm not usually the best to comment on the subtle tastes of the nigiri. I can, however, say that both the nigiri and the rolls were well-crafted, and that the composition of the rolls made for some delicious eating. I sampled off a lot of people's plates and dishes, and they all fell into the "good" range for me. I don't think any of our party strayed off into the Chinese section of the menu, but I imagine the food is at least as good over there.

Someone at the table ordered red bean buns at the end of it all as dessert. I don't remember who that was, since I was kind of in a food-induced coma at that point. Regardless, they were chewy, delicious, and a good topper to the dinner.

We've been to Kyoto once before, and it's likely we'll be back. You don't have many choices when eating sushi in Rolla, but take heart in that your one choice is, in fact, enjoyable.


  • Triple Dinner ($16.95)
    • Chicken Teriyaki
    • Tekka Maki
    • 6 Sushi
  • Rainbow Roll ($9.50)
  • Inari ($3.00)
  • Barley Tea ($2.50?)

I finally learned the proper way to have wasabi on your sushi. For the record, that's to mix it into the soy sauce in a dish, then dip it. I didn't know that. I'm not sure why.

In any case, the tea I had, which was roasted barley tea. It's their standard tea, and not listed as such, but now that I've figured out what it is, I looked it up, and the stuff I saw sitting in the tea was definitely barley. The first time I went there, we all got the stuff, practically, and wondered what the heck it was, and didn't like it very much. Now that I've figured out what it is, I can appreciate it as barley tea and not the green tea that I expected. Unfortunately, I have no basis for comparison of barley tea, so all I can tell you is that if you're not expecting green tea, it's decent tea. I think. It's also a pot plus a cup, and the pot's pretty good sized, so you're not going to run out quickly.

Inari rolls are a siren call to me. They're so very simple, reasonably priced for just grabbing to nosh, and are just plain good. I always get them now, wherever I go that has them. I prefer them hot, but cold seems to be the standard, the hot ones must have been an anomaly. These were the best cold ones I've had, though, as they were barely greasy at all, something that has plagued the cold rolls in the past. For those who are reading this as their first sushi review, Inari rolls are a blob of sushi rice with a tofu skin wrapped around it, then deep fried. I usually eat one straight up, and then dip the other in soy/wasabi mix, and they're both quite good.

The triple combo's a pretty good value. More substantial than a bento, for not a hell of a lot more price. The chicken teriyaki was nothing special, as far as I can remember. The tekka maki I'm remembering as quite a bit better than most of what I've had, and the sushi assortment, well. I had to pass off a piece on account of not being able to stomach shrimp, but other than that, it was decent to good.

The real star of the dinner, for me, was the rainbow roll. I had never had one of these before, but now, I'm thinking I'm gonna have it more often. Take a nice long california roll, which I mostly tolerate, but don't go out of my way to get. Now layer along its entire length maybe half a dozen types of fish, with multiple types overlapping on any given area, and cut it into delicious chunks, and arrange to look kinda like a rainbow, only with stripes the wrong way. Okay, my description skills suck, but the rainbow roll doesn't. It was wonderful, from beginning to end, and even my somewhat touchy stomach ate it up.

As for the red bean buns... well, they were delicious, and now ND just wants to go outside and take it easy.


  • Triple Dinner ($16.95)
    • Chicken Teriyaki
    • Tekka Maki
    • 6 Sushi
  • Hamachi (Yellow Tail) (4.25)
    I actually can't remember if I got Maki or not. Is very long ago, and I can't find the recept despite paying. It's a shame I went to Hiro after this, because it kinda overrides my impressions.

    The dumplings Cham got were at a good and not unedible heat, so all could enjoy. I got some a la carte sushi, as I often do, this time opting for the yellow tail. It's definitely a fish I could go for again, and unlike Cham I do not destroy the subtle flavors with more wasabi than should ever possibly go on that fish. The a la carte comes by 2 pieces here, as it seems most places do (making Sakura Bana the exception to Matsu, Hiro, and Kyoto's rule.)

    Their triple dinner came in a bit of a bento box format (I think?) and was definitely comparable. It came with an appetizer of a salad, and while being full of iceberg, the dressing was a bit off what you usually get, and pretty good. I'm remembering sesame, but it's been a while. The 'chef's choice' sushi was, as is pretty much standard, tuna, whitefish, shrimp, salmon, etc. This has to be tougher to get in with good time than Omaha's sushi places, so their ability to have comparable sushi to Sakura Bana is definitely a positive note, and it isn't as if there's huge competition in the town. The chicken teriyaki, I think, was actually better than it was at Sakura Bana, at least slightly. It definitely delivers, and at similar price as well. And the dessert of red bean buns, I nipped at a bit before biting in. Very sweet, enjoyable. And then the check. Whuu. Mid 120s, if I remember, for 6 people, pre-tip. Which isn't bad at all (20 bucks a person, with some sharing? Yeah.)

    The overall on the place is that it's a good place to eat, does good sushi even in the middle of nowhere, and the prices are perfectly reasonable. If you're the type, in the area, and you can find parking, I don't think we've got a reservation about sending you to Kyoto. Missouri.


    SLIU said...

    Thank you for your generous review. Our hot tea is Genmaicha, a brown rice green tea. Hope to see you soon. ~Kyoto

    NinjaDebugger said...

    Looks like I was wrong about the tea after all. I am so embarrassed. I was -sure- those little floaters were barley.

    Still, damn good food. I wouldn't be surprised if we eat there next weekend, since we'll be in Rolla again.

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