Kobe restaurants tend to be more architecturally restrained, more traditionally oriented than their counterparts in Tokyo or Osaka, but "Dynamic Kitchen Sun" is a rare exception. It's a stunning example of contemporary restaurant design, and an exciting space to experience as a diner. The food here is creative but not over-aggressively so, with some intriguing local culinary touches that may be of interest to Kobe visitors.
Starting at the dramatically lit entrance, diners here walk through a succession of visually distinct spaces - there's a partially screened off bar area to the right of the entrance pathway, then further along is a room full of dimly lit tables arranged to take advantage of the 10th-floor view over central Kobe. Then there's a small area of zashiki seating along the far glass wall. To the left is a huge, warmly lit L-shaped counter that's instantly recognizable as the heart of the place, providing a balance for the hard design edges and adding a warmer, human element. Large earthenware pots and sprawling arrangements of dried flowers and branches also serve to set off the different spaces, and reinforce the earth-toned color scheme.
The food menu is organized around tofu, seasonal fish, and high-quality brand-name meats. (The last category is listed more specifically on the menu as Mitsuse chicken, Yamato beef and Kagoshima pork.) The dishes tend to be relatively simple (grilled chicken, stewed pork kakuni-style) and they're all well executed. There's often an unexpected ingredient that sets the dish apart - for example the tsukune meatballs (here wrapped around a wooden stick) came with an interesting garnish of shredded scallions and a spicy mayonnaise-like sauce that worked much better than the typical tare sauce. The omelette comes with a bit of thick, sweet sauce and a delicate filling of yuba (tofu skin) and fragrant mitsuba.
One interesting regional item is the grilled eel sushi, prepared in the Kansai style by pressing the fish topping over rice in a rectangular box, then cutting it into rectangular pieces. Kobe is also famous for its Chinatown neighborhood, and another locally influenced dish is the excellent assorted dim sum platter. This is definitely a cross-cultural interpretation of dim sum - the dipping sauce has a distinctive yuzu component, and one of the dim sum varieties looks like a typical crab ball but seems to be made from polenta instead. Another dumpling is filled with delicate slivers of various seafood ingredients along with tiny green peas.
Excellent, creative cooking, friendly service and some of the nicest modern decor in Kobe make this restaurant worth a stopover if you're in town. Budget around Y4000-7000 per person with drinks. Sun is conveniently located in the Kobe Kyotsu Center, which is attached to the south side of JR Sannomiya station.
by Robb Satterwhite