Photo by Rosa Vasara
Located opposite the Bellas Artes metro station for the past 14 years, Kintaro ("Golden Boy" in Japanese) was the third or fourth Japanese restaurant in the country and its anachronistic décor certainly highlights the sushi bar's age. Various dull-colored tapestries and "authentic" Asian posters attempt to draw attention away from the tacky, brown cinder block walls, the brown tiled floor and the brown wooden furniture.
Nevertheless, the people-watching view of the main street and the enriching oriental cuisine stops you from feeling like you're in a tidy cardboard box. Instead, you'll feel like you're in a culinary art gallery as beautifully designed dishes fly out the kitchen.
The extensive menu offers not only striking sushi but also genuine Japanese cuisine, such as freshly prepared noodles, rice and soup dishes. Choose various rolls to share (CP$3,500 to $4,500, or US$5 to $7), or if eating alone, try the majestic Sushi Makimoni (CP$7,500, or US$12). The exotically presented dish provides an assortment of Nigiri Sushi (fresh fish draped over rice) and salmon rolls (salmon encased in rice wrapped in seaweed).
For the ultimate fish fest, the Chirashi Sushi (CP$7,500, or US$12) is a dish for the indulgent--a colorful bowl of every kind of daily fish available with avocado over a bed of rice, served with a bowl of traditional, cleansing miso soup.
If you're feeling messy, suck up some fully flavorsome Yakisoba (CP$3,800, or US$6), a typical noodle dish with tender, juicy chicken and crunchy stir-fried vegetables. Fried and barbecued dishes are further alluring menu selections.
To round off the golden experience, opt for a Japanese beer like the smooth, light Asahi (CP$2,100, or US$3). Alternatively, elect a sensationally tangy Sake Sour (CP$2,000, or US$3), a temptingly lethal Chilean blend of the traditional Japanese rice alcohol and lemon.
While Kintaro owner Kasumasa Suzuki was one of the first pioneers to bring Japanese food to Chile, what really makes the restaurant stand out from other Santiago sushi joints is the cuisine’s tastes and textures. The fish is tender and silky, not old and stringy. The rice is sticky and fragrant but not soggy and bland.
So instead of walking past this deceivingly bleak-looking restaurant, allow the exquisite food to speak for itself: Kintaro is a natural "golden boy" of gastronomy.
Monjitas 460 (opp. Bellas Artes Metro)
Phone: 2 638 2448
Metro: Bellas Artes