Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pittsburgh City Paper visits Teppanyaki Kyoto Restaurant

The Pittsburgh City Paper visits an Asian restaurant for the second time in the last couple weeks, this time going to Highland Park's Teppanyaki Kyoto Restaurant, which you read about here in February. It opened its doors at the beginning of the year, but was soft-opening and reservation-only for several months as its staff learned the menu. Teppanyaki Kyoto is one of the better-liked Japanese restaurants among Japanese people in the city, and among the most authentic. "Japanese" food around here is usually just sushi or hibachi steakhouses, with menus limited to the stereotypical food Americans like (Ichiban and Nakama are fine for what they are, but I cringe when they're rated the best Japanese in the city). Teppanyaki works the middle, with common-over-there favorites like karaage, okinomiyaki, and yakisoba.

Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth touch on that in the City Paper:
perhaps more surprising than Pittsburghers' taste for tuna tartare is that it has taken us so long to discover the rest of Japanese cuisine. Sure, we all know about sweet teriyaki sauce on beef and salmon steaks, most of us learned to boil ramen noodles in college, and some have probably tried Japan's other staple noodles, soba and udon. Then there are hibachi restaurants, which merge an authentic Japanese cooking style — the griddle — with an inauthentic theater of juggled cleavers and sizzling meat. But these do not give a full picture of Japanese cuisine any more than pasta and pizza sums up Italian. In all the derring-do surrounding eating raw fish, we have all but ignored the deserving hot, hearty fare of an island nation as rocky and rugged as Western Pennsylvania.

Into this void, steps Teppanyaki Kyoto. Kyoto, of course, is the ancient imperial capital, whose name evokes the traditional Japan of tatami mats, temples and cherry blossoms, while a teppan is a flat iron griddle, and yaki means grilled or fried. In a small, serene storefront on Highland Park's revitalizing Bryant Street, Kyoto offers something like a Japanese version of a diner. There is a counter for watching food cook at the open teppan, and a menu comprised of humble yet delicious foods drawn from the menus of the lunch counters, train stations and family kitchens of Japan.
The restaurant is located on 5808 Bryant St. (map), a short drive from the Pittsburgh Zoo. The area looks a lot better today than it does on Google Maps.

The trend with dining reviews is to wait several months after opening, so we may have to wait a while to see a professional write-up on "Curry on Murray", a Thai curry place that opened at 2121 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill in the old Sababa location (and before that, Mr. Willies BBQ).

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