It’s pronounced Q—or so I’ve been told. It was a blustery winter day when I first set foot in Kyu Bistro at 185 Isabel Street. As I perused the menu (complete with photographs), big steaming bowls of ramen sailed out of the kitchen, making my lunch selections very difficult. The only solution was to return. And return I have, many time.
As a point of clarification, the owners of this restaurant have a second location—called Kyu Grill—now at The Forks. The menu there focuses on Heroshimas, a grilled-skewer sandwich served on a sweet bun with Japanese inspired sauces and toppings. There’s little crossover between the two menus, so be sure to hit up the right location for your favourites.
What You Should Order
Ramen rules the roost here at Kyu Bistro. What is ramen? It’s a big, big bowl of Japanese goodness that starts with noodles and broth and builds from there. Additional flavourings often include miso or soy sauce, while the variety of toppings is endless.
Here at Kyu, diners have a choice of four pork broth and four chicken broth creations (there’s also a vegetarian broth available by request). I’ve worked my way through many of them but keep coming back to Spicy Peanut Ramen that includes bean sprouts, corn, bamboo, carrots and strips of tender chicken. I add an egg from the Extras menu, which also gives you the option to change the type of noodle, add vegetables, meat or seafood and boost the flavour of your broth by adding peanut, miso or curry.
Beyond soups, Kyu’s menu includes Lunch Sets to make ordering easy. Each plate comes with rice, edamame and a spring roll. Take your pick from chicken karaage (crispy battered chicken served with sweet chili aioli), korokke (potato croquettes), beef ribs or a dozen other selections.
Not to be missed is the Kyu Agedashi Tofu, deep fried and topped with a sweet and spicy mayo. It’s a steal for $5. Wash everything down with a pot of roasted rice tea or Japanese style iced coffee.
Out of Pocket
Dinner with drinks for two will set you back about $50. The Lunch Sets are a bargain, ranging from $8 to $12. Most of the other entrees, including rice bowls and noodles range from $11 to $14. Ramen bowls run from $10.50 to $14.25. Online reviews suggest this is a little steep for ramen, but the broth alone is worth the price of admission. I have never reached the bottom of the bowl in one sitting, especially if appetizers are involved. And speaking of appetizers, the Sides, as they are listed, are excellent value ranging from $4.50 to $6 for items including edamame, chicken wings and dumplings.
What I love
It goes without saying that I love the Spicy Peanut Ramen. It’s the thing I crave on chilly days, when the skies are gray, or when I simply need something ultra flavourful. For me, the mark of a favourite restaurant is one that has a dish that calls you back. And this one has it for sure. It also appears to be the case from my son, who’s hooked on the Curry Rice Bowl (he orders the one with tofu). I also love the option of ordering lots of little plates for a variety of flavours, all at one sitting.