Tucked away down a discreet flight of steps in an unremarkable East Village building, it's easy to cruise right past Kyo Ya. But what a shame it would be to miss this brilliant jewel. If the mostly Japanese crowd doesn’t tell you you’re onto something special, the relentless charm and hospitality of the staff will win you over completely. This is a cozy and intimate room with lots of polished wood and displays of lovely ceramics. A row of counter seats cuts down the middle of the space, along with a smattering of small tables. A six-seat counter at the back is reserved for those having the kaiseki menu. Kyo Ya's dishes are delicate, exquisite and perfectly balanced. And as if that isn't enough, most of them use authentic, imported ingredients, which are not commonly found in domestic kitchens. The kaiseki, for example, might unveil a chewy kuruma-fu served in a winter melon soup bobbing with spicy pink peppercorns, mizuna and kinira ohitashi. Finally, the oshokuji course-presented in an earthenware pot full of earthy burdock root- and mushroom-steamed rice-is served with umami-rich miso pickled turnips, citrus pickled cabbage and grilled unagi for a true highlight.
- MICHELIN guide inspectors