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Kyoto Kitchen, Winchester

Muddy says: Beautifully crafted Japanese cuisine, a genuine love for local produce & THE freshest seafood; our Muddy Award winning restaurant is fast becoming a Hampshire institution.

Forget YoSushi gimmickry, at Kyoto Kitchen it’s all about the food, the whole food and nothing but the food. Chef Shinju Irokawa is at the top of his game (so much so, that the Honda family are ‘borrowing’ him for 9-months to cook at the F1).

Owner Abdul Kayum, affectionately known as Miff, is a stalwart of the city’s foodie scene and his homage to all things Japanese has a burgeoning reputation… why hello there Michelin inspectors.

Expect deep Japanese tradition & technical wizardry combined with local produce, much of it from Hampshire.

Take, for example, the Winchester rolls: discs of sticky rice and chalk-stream trout served with wasabi grown only miles down the road; grating the fiery root on shark-skin creates a smooth, sweet, gutsy paste.

Yes, shark skin moonlighting as cheese grater — no need to adjust your screen.

Japanese food is all about small, light plates, think tasting menu as opposed three large courses. If you like your food slow and considered then you’ve found your spiritual home.

Fish in all its manifest glories — oak-smoked, salamander grilled, tempura-battered — also features high on the menu: creamy Lobster Harihari wrapped in crisp, pickled daikon; mellow scallops Ume Shiso Ae laced with a rich reduction of Japanese plum sauce; Sakura Salmon, tea-smoked with a goji-berry on top, and mouth-melting Sea Bass Isobe Age coated in the lightest tempura.

Miff has a strong relationship with Devon’s Brixham market, so expect lots of local fish: Cornish stone bass, John Dory and gilt-head seabream, plus more exotic fare. Recent offerings include barracuda caught off the coast of Senegal and Japanese bonito migrating through Spain.

[Read Muddy’s full review of Kyoto Kitchen here]

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Hampshire