The Kyo-ya restaurant presents a crisp melding of traditional Japanese and modern Western architectural elements. Simple, natural, Japanese woodwork mixes with such contemporary materials as structural concrete, glass block, stainless steel, washi glass, marble, and granite, resulting in a polished, sophisticated composition. Set back from the street behind a landscaped area, the two-story building's tile-capped, hipped gablet wide-eaved roof and the shōji-like upper-level windows rise above a steel-columned gateway and enclosed courtyard. The courtyard, with its playful stainless steel kusari doi (rain chain), serves as a transitional space to the glass and shōji-enclosed reception area.
Granite floors, a cherry blossom triptych by Tatsuo Ho, and the striking glass-and marble-layered reception desk continue the contemporary flair established on the exterior. Varied ceiling heights define spaces, and a bar is discretely tucked behind a byobu (folding screen)–like wall of concrete and glass block, fronted by a kare sansui (dry landscape garden). A curved, fabric-clad, convex wall flows to the main dining room, playing off the zigzag, floor-to-ceiling windows which afford views of the courtyard garden. The dining room opens on the garden court on one side and a take niwa (bamboo garden) on the other. The second floor is more overtly Japanese in décor, with its kare sansui, shōji, and nine private rooms with tatami (rice straw mats), tokonoma, and paneled ceilings.
The landscape design, inspired in part by the gardens of Ryoanji and the Katsura Imperial Villa in Japan, was the work of Randal Fujimoto of Honolulu.