Six months of renovations will trigger anyone's eyebrow-raise as they enter the allegedly improved edifice. But my John Black-esque lifted eyebrow ("Days of our Lives," duh) dropped naturally as I treaded down the steps to the quiet but tranquil Kyoto.
My friend was unimpressed by the intense blandness of Kyoto's appearance. I think the words she used were "Eh, meh." I had a different response; from the Japanese pop music to the freshly plucked spring-time sakura to the soft, sincere greeting we received, the restaurant made me feel like we were actually in Japan.
This DePaul-area BYOB sushi joint offers almost 20 varieties of nigiri and sashimi rolls, five entrees including yaki soba and vegetable udon, 10 classic Japanese appetizers including the ever popular shumai (steamed dumplings with spicy dipping sauce) and gyoza (pot stickers filled with meat). There are another 15 varieties of makis recommended by Kyoto's twin sushi artists, Carlo and Melvin.
The twins' passion for artistic sushi-building is readily seen. Carlo and Melvin sent two unimaginably fresh, to the point of ambrosial, raw-fish dishes to the table. The first was a bed of thin lemon slices layered with cucumber rounds, a fold of ginger alongside a fold of yellowtail, sprinkled with baby red caviar. In the center sat a rose of wasabi. Next came a row of stuffed cherry tomatoes, draped in tuna, topped with a scallop and a seasoning cap of tempura. If you're intimidated by these dishes, don't worry; this is still America and you can have your 'raw' fish fried with a dollop of cream cheese if you like.
The menu items are mid-range in price. A square sushi meal is going to run you at least $15. But a bottle of Yellow Tail costs around 10 bucks, so you should come out ahead.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Anderson