Dining

Get Japanese tapas and a language lesson at Kyara

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Just one sampling from the Kyara menu: shark cartilage with Japanese plum.
Photo: Beverly Poppe
Jim Begley

The Valley’s clan of outstanding Japanese restaurants—Raku, Monta and Goyemon, to name a few—can now welcome another member: Kyara. As an izakaya (Japanese bar with food) offering robatayaki (skewers from a Japanese charcoal grill), it’s essentially the love child of Ichiza and Raku, which is a very good thing.

The tsukune at Kyara.

The Details

Kyara Japanese Tapas
6555 S. Jones Blvd., 434-8856
Tue-Sun, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

The selections at Kyara run the gamut of Japanese small plates, including zensai (appetizers), age (deep fried) and kushi (skewers). Among the zensai offerings: a duo of delicious dips, kabocha (pumpkin, $3.80) and spicy tuna ($5.50). Both are served alongside rice crackers and excel in subtlety. In particular, the spicy tuna isn’t as overpowering as it can be at a neighborhood sushi joint.

A real menu highlight is the variety of kushi available, from sasami (chicken breast, $1.90) and tema (chicken wing, $2) to nasu (eggplant, $1.50) and asparagus ($1.50). A majority are outstanding, although I’d suggest skipping the butabara (pork belly, $2.20) as it pales compared to the others. When given the option of tare (teriyaki) or shio (salt), go shio—it showcases smokiness and natural flavor rather than obscuring them.

Kyara offers a variety of robatayaki.

While skewers are typical Japanese fare, what is atypical locally are dishes such as potato salad with blue cheese fuumi ($4.50) and cheese with tempura ($6.50). The potato salad is interwoven with cucumbers and blue cheese, which provide both textural balance and a hint of pungency, while the fig jam accompanying the selection of lightly tempura-battered cheeses—mozzarella, havarti and brie—complements the tempura’s lightness. Addictive bar food.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most unique dishes on the menu: same nankotsu no ume (shark cartilage with Japanese plum, $6.50). The concoction, served on small cucumber slices, is a tart mixture with a crunch of cartilage unfamiliar to the American palate. This dish is not commonly available in the Valley, although if Kyara follows the path of its predecessors, it’ll be popular soon enough.

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Previous Discussion:

  • Tender wrappers, each plumped up to the size of a playing card, swaddle a juicy pork/vegetable blend worthy of being trumpeted on the marquee.

  • La Monja will be a Mexican-style raw bar, while Hatsumi will offer a more elegant experience, focused on traditional robata and irori grilling.

  • Head to the bar for executive chef Mark Andelbradt’s counter-only menu and prepare for a range of explosive flavors.

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