I am no expert where Asian food is concerned. There is little that I can tell you about what is truly authentic vs. what just tastes good. And Kyoto? Their food tastes good.
My dining parter and I decided to order different entrees and sample each other’s. Since dinner came with salad and soup, we skipped the appetizers. While I didn’t take pictures of anything leading up to the entrees, they were both excellent. The salad was iceberg lettuce with carrots and the classic Japanese steakhouse ginger dressing. Iceberg lettuce doesn’t typically excite me but the fresh ginger dressing made it a good way to start the meal. Light and crisp, it was refreshing. The soup was called a ‘clear soup’ and I’m fairly certain it was white miso garnished with scallions and sliced mushrooms. Also light and refreshing.
I ordered the sukiyaki steak entree. This is the first time in an Asian restaurant that I’ve been asked how I wanted my steak cooked. I asked for medium-rare and they hit the nail on the head. It was perfectly cooked and amazingly tender. The sauce was savory & a bit sweet. I’m guessing it was soy and mirin. Dude, I really should have asked questions. I was just too drawn into the food. It was cooked with carrots, onions, zucchini, mushrooms and scallions then served over generous portions of fried rice and noodles.
I have to say that I left the restaurant a little obsessed with two things from the meal. The first was the chicken on my dining partner’s plate. (More on that below.) The second was the rice. There is something a little different about the rice that Kyoto uses. Most of the Asian restaurants in the area use a pretty similar white rice. This isn’t that rice. This is very different with both the taste and texture catching my attention. I can’t pinpoint if they use a different kind of rice or a different cooking method. My guess is both but, for the first time in quite a while, I found myself really loving rice.
And moving on… my dining partner had the chicken and scallop combination. It was also served with noodles, rice and the same kinds of veggies. Both the scallops and the chicken were cooked exceptionally well. Scallops are notoriously easy to overcook and these were sweet and tender. The chicken breast was also cooked perfectly and the sauce was really delicious. A bit on the sweet side with just the right savory notes. I kept trying to steal bites of it.
Dinner entrees are a little more expensive than the average in Topeka, ranging from around $12 to $25. Our check total for the two entrees, a soft drink and a water came to $36 and some change. The quality and quantity easily make up for that. Unless you’re extremely hungry and skipped lunch, you’ll have enough left over for lunch the next day. Lunch entrees are priced around $6 to $12. They serve Pepsi products and Japanese sodas. They also have a pretty respectable list of mixed drinks, including a handful of non-alcoholic drinks. I’m thinking back to a meal when I was kid and my dad ordered a Shirley Temple for me. I thought that was pretty hot stuff.
As we were leaving, our waitress surprised us with two Japanese ramune sodas. I love those. I don’t drink sugary soft drinks often but these were a fun way to cap off the meal.
I didn’t try their sushi and didn’t see the menu. I have to admit a certain amount of prejudice against seafood in the Midwest. Having spent many years living 20 minutes from the east coast and frequently having access to seafood caught a few hours before I consumed it, fish & shellfish here just never seem quite as good. Kyoto did a good job with the scallops, though, so I might give it a go next time. It also has me rethinking the lobster tails. I love lobster and nearly ordered it this visit. Maybe the next…
Kyoto is located on 29th Street in Topeka, just east of Kansas Ave, in the building formerly occupied by Kim’s. Their hours are 11-9 Sunday through Thursday and 11-10 on Friday and Saturday.
Kyoto Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar
115 SE 29th St
Topeka, KS 66611