A couple of weeks ago we snuck into Kyo Japanese Bar the day after its soft opening. Like a newborn fawn, I felt Kyo was finding its legs rather quickly and I was curious see how opening night would roll out. Last week, they had their official grand opening and we were among the guests they hoped to impress. Housed in a beautifully reinvented space, Kyo (known in Japanese as an izakaya or pub) combines the classic beauty and heritage of Old Montreal with sophisticated hints of Japanese architecture. Careful lighting and dazzling, bright reds blend with golden, honey colored wood, setting a warm, urban tone. The massive and impressive center table (pictured above) stands in the middle of the restaurant and is a true thing of beauty. Built on a solid foundation of thick wooden beams and an industrial metal top, it was designed for communal gathering. There is also plenty of space for a more private dining experience.

At the media preview early last week, we sampled over a dozen offerings that will surely have curious clients coming back again. We started with the edamame and fried calamari (which we tried once before and still love) then tasted the Tataki Maguro (tuna served with ponzu, jalapeno and green onion), a wonderfully prepared cod and plates of colorful sushi that will impress the sushi lover’s palette. A truly amazing dish was the Okonomiyaki which is a dijon infused, Japanese seafood crepe topped with thinly shaved dried fish that moves and sways from the heat generated by the dish. I’m sure this will get a wild response from any table that orders it.

Kyo also offers a vast selection of seafood free dishes such as the bacon wrapped grapes (a favorite), the Tori Karaage (fried chicken with aioli) and the Negima Yakitori (chicken and leak skewer) and savory beef tongue, among others. As mentioned in our preview article, the menu is quite vast, making repeat visits a must. We also had a chance to check out a couple of desserts and do yourself a favor; try the delicious donuts. You’ll be happy you did. Have a look at their menus here. Setting themselves apart from other restaurants in the area, Kyo offers a selection of over 25 varieties of Sake, some exclusive to them. During our dinner we learned the complicated and intricate process that goes into making sake and it’s as meticulous as one might think. While tasting three different varieties, we learned that certain sake is poured until it flows over the rim of the glass, signifying bountiful prosperity (that’s pretty cool!). This combined with an expertly stocked bar should put a bit of a different spin on Montreal’s famous 5a7.

Kyo Japanese Bar is something very different in Old Montreal. The service is quick, informed and friendly and being located in the gorgeous Place d’Armes hotel at the gateway to old Montreal, Kyo will be a sake, seafood and sushi lover’s destination.

Check out their facebook and twitter pages!