Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo

-196 Degree Celsius Candy Apple and  99 Degree Celsius “Apple Jam”

Nihonryori RyuGin is one of a host of popular, new-wave Japanese restaurants on the Tokyo dining scene. Eager to try what was fresh and cutting edge in Japanese cuisine, we dined here one evening after shopping, and visiting the Mori Tower, at nearby Roppongi Hills - it was the only non-traditional establishment we ate at on the trip.

“Premium Monkfish Liver” from HOKKAIDO with “Special Miso Sauce”

RyuGin is highly decorated, with 2 Michelin Stars, and a spot on San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants – up 28 places to number 20 in the 2011 list, and is thus not cheap. It offers a degustation menu at ¥23,100, and a limited a la carte menu, between 9-10.30pm. Our degustation menu for the evening was:

100% Turnip Hot Soup with “Turnip and Fish” ball
“Premium Monkfish Liver” from HOKKAIDO with “Special Miso Sauce”
Soft “Simmered Abalone” with “Grilled Oyster” in Hot “Squid Sauce”, Deep-fried “Egg-tofu” and “Variation of Vegetables”
“Matsuba Crab” from SANIN in Shabu-shabu style served in the “Crab Broth”
“Seabream” from TOKUSHIMA and “Aoriika Squid” with Seaweed
Hot “Egg Custard” with “Shark fin” Sauce
“Grilled Seaperch” from CHOSHI with “Roasted Rice” over the skin and “Black Vinegar”, “Sea urchins” Soy Sauce
“Wagyu Beef Cheek” in “Winter Miso Soup” with lots of “Winter Vegetables”
“Simmered Rice” cooked with “Kuroge Wagyu” Beef, Miso Soup with “Shiba Shrimp Broth”
-196 Degree Celsius Candy Apple and +99 Degree Celsius “Apple Jam”
Hot Parfait RyuGin Style, Vol. 11 “Yuzu”

“Matsuba Crab” fron SANIN in Shabu-shabu style served in the “Crab Broth”

Amongst the highlights were the monkfish liver - unusual, smooth and creamy, yet light; the sea perch - beautifully grilled fish, brilliantly combined with the creaminess of the sea urchin, and the unique texture of the roasted rice - my favourite dish; and the apple dessert - a stunning, apple-shaped candy crust that when cracked revealed an apple powder served at -196 degrees, which was then topped with a +96 degrees apple jam making for a delightful combination of disparate textures and temperatures in a fun dish.

Soft “Simmered Abalone” with “Grilled Oyster” in Hot “Squid Sauce”, Deep-fried “Egg-tofu” and “Variation of Vegetables”Hot “Egg Custard” with “Shark fin” Sauce
“Wagyu Beef Cheek” in “Winter Miso Soup” with lots of “Winter Vegetables”“Simmered Rice” cooked with “Kuroge Wagyu” Beef, Miso Soup with “Shiba Shrimp Broth”


The rest of the courses, however, were rather unremarkable. Ingredients were of the highest quality - the Matsuba crab even coming with a tag of authenticity, but whilst reasonably nice, none of the dishes stood out or made any lasting impression.

“Grilled Seaperch” from CHOSHI with “Roasted Rice” over the skin and “Black Vinegar”, “Sea urchins” Soy Sauce

The chef, 38-year-old Seiji Yamamoto, apparently thanks every diner personally before they leave. We left in such a hurry - put it down to jetlag, that he didn't even get a chance to greet us at our table. He did, however, come rushing up the stairs and grabbed us for a quick word just as we were getting into the cab - a lovely, personal touch.

-196 Degree Celsius Candy Apple and  99 Degree Celsius “Apple Jam”-196 Degree Celsius Candy Apple and  99 Degree Celsius “Apple Jam”

In a nutshell…
There were a couple of genuine high points, but Yamamoto-san's food still has some way to go if it wishes to match the tried, tested and much-loved traditional Japanese fare.

7/10

Nihonryori RyuGin
Side Roppongi Building 1F, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo
+81 03 34238006
Average Price: ¥23,100
2 Michelin Stars

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