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New to the Bridge

Kyoko Sushi in Sandpoint reflects its chef's big personality

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The fish tacos from Kyoko. - CARRIE SCOZZARO
  • Carrie Scozzaro
  • The fish tacos from Kyoko.

Everyone calls him Junior, but when it comes to his cuisine — especially sushi — Gary Lee Solis Jr. doesn't do anything in a small way. Take Kyoko Sushi, for example, which Solis recently opened in Sandpoint's Cedar Street Bridge complex.

The transformation of a vacant storefront there into a charming, Japanese-inspired café took fewer than 30 days, says Solis. Black-framed screens with a cherry blossom print outline the exterior of the main seating area and help distinguish Kyoko from the enclosed Bridge's rustic design theme. To create a sense of privacy from foot traffic, Solis created a false, suspended ceiling of graceful Japanese parasols.

And if the décor — mostly red, white and black — feels familiar to Sandpoint diners, it's no accident. Solis used that color scheme in his first area restaurant, Oishii (which he ran from 2007-11, expanding and relocating it once during its four-year run).

Like Oishii, Kyoko is starting small, with an emphasis on fresh fish — Solis says it's flown in fresh daily from Hawaii — and both traditional and contemporary sushi. The Larry Bird ($13), for example, combines tuna and escolar with unexpected flavor profiles like pico de gallo, lemon glaze and fried garlic. The Black Widow ($14) pairs jalapeño and wasabi with soft shell crab. For maximum heat, try En Fuego ($13): tempura shrimp, crab and avocado topped with spicy tuna, scallion, sesame oil and sauce, then set ablaze.

In addition to rolls, Kyoko offers traditional nigiri and sashimi, as well as assorted appetizers like tuna poke ($10) or ceviche ($12), gyoza ($8) and edamame ($7). Seafood tacos on grilled corn tortillas offer a choice of spicy tuna, calamari or shrimp ($10).

Not content to just offer excellent sushi at Kyoko, Solis is tripling his presence on the Bridge. In the works, says Solis, is a fish market, a fish-and-chips-type pub and a noodle place using traditional-style noodles Solis is having specially made in Japan. ♦

Kyoko • 334 N. First Ave., Ste. 107, Cedar Street Bridge, Sandpoint • Open Tue-Thurs 11 am-9 pm, Fri and Sat, 11 am-10 pm • facebook/kyokosushisandpoint • 208.627-9521