John Collyn House
Tucked away on historic High Street, which runs parallel with the quays.
Lunch is a serious matter for the French, who start thinking about it from 11.30am. So, if you are not securely ensconced at a table shortly after 12 noon, you can very easily miss out and end up with something from a supermarket deli or McDonald’s. A couple of years ago, we were whizzing along country roads just north of Caen when we spotted a cluster of up-market cars outside what looked like a fairly average restaurant in the back of beyond. That can’t be bad, we thought, and headed in to find it filled with businessmen who clearly drove out every day from town. Everything was ready for their arrival including opened bottles of wine from which you drank what you wanted and were charged accordingly. An hors d’oeuvre plate was smacked down on our table plus a pot au feu from which we helped ourselves. Once they’d had their fill, the place emptied out. It was mesmerising.
I thought of this recently when driving through the streets of Waterford. I spotted two self-satisfied looking businessmen emerging, ‘licking their chops’ as it were, from a Japanese restaurant. “They look like they go there every day”, I said to Sir. "Let’s give it a try." And oh boy, were we glad we did.
Kyoto is the newest addition to Waterford’s dining scene, and the first Japanese restaurant in the city, I was told – though they do have other Asian street food. Again, when we went in, there was quite a large group of youngish people, who looked as if they were on their lunch-break from a local office. Bigger than it looks from the outside, it stretches back into two sections, with another dining area off to the side. It’s also very attractively decorated in red, white and black - comfortable, with a contemporary vibe. A young artist from Cork, Becky McCarthy, was at work during our visit, completing beautiful murals of equally beautiful Japanese ladies on the walls.
There’s a wide selection of sushi – nigiri, norimaki, hosomaki, futomaki and sashimi, as well as noodles, wok stars, curries and what they call sides but we would think of as starters or small plates. With was lots of tempting choices, such as Beef yaki nikku, wok fried strips of sirloin beef with onion, courgette, carrot, green bean and Japanese BBQ sauce served with steamed Japanese rice or brown rice; or Kyoto's yaki soba noodle with chicken, prawn, onion, sweet cabbage, courgette, carrot and beansprouts; as well as yakitori roast duck on a bed of stir fried vegetables, sprikled with yakatori sauce and served with rice.
We went down the route of sharing ‘sides’, ordering nigiri sushi of crabmeat and mayo, chicken gyoza, tempura prawn, garlic and chilli squid and one larger dish of teriyaki stir-fried beef. Everything was ace. The brace of sushi, plump and moist topped with crabmeat and a blob of mayo, looked great on a black rectangular plate with a fulsome rose of pickled ginger and a good blob of wasabi, while four very big prawns, lightly coated in batter rested tails upwards against a bowl of good strong tempura sauce. Five crispy gyoza, filled with chicken, cabbage, garlic and ginger, were very tasty with a hot sesame soy sauce, while garlic and chilli squid was everything it proclaimed, bursting with strong garlic and plenty of chilli slivers - we scraped up every last morsel. Finally, teriyaki stir-fried beef was rich, tender and plentiful, with a good bowl of rice. We passed on desserts, which included banoffee pie, chocolate fudge cake, ice cream ‘delight’ and jelly ice cream. They have a half dozen great value wines as well as the traditional Japanese drink sake or Asian beers.
All in all, a very happy experience at husband and wife team Maorong Zhuang and LingLing Shi’s restaurant.