A short drive over Bristol’s beautifully lit suspension bridge, overlooking the cliffs of the Avon Gorge is KIBOU Japanese Kitchen and Bar, a restaurant who aim to create a completely immersive Japanese dining experience.
The ambience itself is bright and colourful. The walls are welcoming; coated in hand painted Japanese murals, the modern touch of the digital screens is quite engaging; yet fits the aesthetic of the restaurant perfectly- specifically the circling koi fish. The cherry blossom trees follow you around and up the dark wooden staircase which led us to our table. The custom neon Japanese signs and the atmospheric music created the canvas for each table’s conversation and buzz. A comforting way to begin.
As we pondered over the menu, we were brought wasabi peas which were definitely a lot spicier than we were expecting! The menu itself is a dream, the wide range of authentic Japanese dishes with their own curated signature options. Being as indecisive as I am I thought it best to ask the waitress for her recommendations and she did not disappoint. We started with California rolls and the most delightful prawn tempura topped with avocado. Following on with the spicy tuna and cucumber roll which happened to be incredibly refreshing and delicious.
As a lover of sushi, it would have been rude not to try their signature dishes, the volcano roll and lantern roll. The lantern roll is the best kind of California roll one could have, topped with salmon and tuna yet filled with avocado a soft-shell tempura that just melted in your mouth but the sweetness of the mango that really did make it so memorable. The star of the show and my favourite dish of the night had to be the volcano roll. The 10-piece futomaki, salmon, avocado and tobiko was rolled to perfection, dipped in tempura batter and fried, topped with a special house sauce. The crispy exterior almost created a barrier which locked in every flavourful component.
Between our courses, we sipped on white peach and jasmine sodas, a sweet and refreshing drink that complimented our sushi. Before our mains arrived, we enjoyed the light and crispy ebi prawn tempura with a spicy mayo sauce as well as the refreshing goma wakame salad, a seaweed salad dressing with soy and sesame, the ideal palette cleanser.
Although I thought the sushi dishes couldn’t be topped, the prawn katsu curry was sweet, fragrant and rich in flavour. It was clear that the highest quality of ingredients had been used. The Japanese pickles added a balance of tartness to the dish that you don’t think its needs till you try it. My date had the yaki udon noodles they came stir fried with spicy peppers, sesame and soy sauce. It may sound simple but thoroughly enjoyable.
As our dinner came to an end, I may not have had room for dessert but KIBOU became my new favourite restaurant in Bristol. We left feeling that we had experienced true Japanese cuisine in every way. It was clear that when creating the restaurant, it was important to them to not just bring their cuisine but bring Japanese culture in every detail of KIBOU. Truly a homage to Japan.
To discover more, visit KIBOU.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of KIBOU Japanese Kitchen and Bar.