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Ryugin - Tokyo's Top-Class Modern Kaiseki [Review] w/ Pics

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exilekiss Apr 12, 2008 12:08 PM

Full visual walkthrough (w/ tons of pics) found here:

http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/04/ryugin-tokyos-top-class-modern-kaiseki.html

--------------------

On the third night of our Japan Trip, we were able to get reservations for a much-talked about place on Chowhound: Ryugin, in Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan. I had never experienced Kaiseki before this trip, let alone Modern Kaiseki, so I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I had heard Ryugin was also a Michelin 2 Star-rated restaurant, and after having been to Sushi Mizutani the night before (3 Star), I figured I knew what to expect here.

Nothing could be further from the truth. From the moment we stepped into the small back street entrance, we were treated to one of THE most professional, classy and all-around amazing culinary experiences I've ever had in my life.

We both opted for the full Chef's Tasting Menu - Gastronomy Course B - wanting to fully experience Chef Seiji Yamamoto's culinary expertise and we were not disappointed. The first thing that struck us was the beautiful, yet simple / classy ambiance. From the table settings to the custom glass / dishes that accompanied each course, it exuded "class." In addition, the service was *outstanding*: True White Glove service with the waiter or waitress serving each course (1 plate at a time, per person) wearing white gloves. When they removed the plates, it was also 1 plate at a time (no stacking of multiple plates to clear the table). They were always quietly in the background but would always refill our glasses when they were low, and attentive to our every needs. The service was truly the best I've experienced.

The first course was the Chateau Ryugin 1970 with Kashimanada 'Hamaguri Clam' served with Whitebait Kosen-yaki.

One thing that was apparent from the very first dish is an old adage that gets overlooked so often for eating: You eat with your Eyes, Nose and Mouth. This is so true here as visually, with each plate, Chef Yamamoto engages you visually with the food, and then the wonderful smell hits you, and finally the taste. It's subtle and most of the time it's taken for granted, but here it was especially apparent.

The server opened up the bottle of the Chateau Ryugin and explained to us that it was a broth of Hamaguri Clams, and proceeded to pour it into the small shot glass with a type of seaweed and other spices. The broth was fragrant and paired nicely with the Whitebait Kosen-yaki. The little fish were fried up perfectly and the texture and crunch were nice. It was also laid out with some Sakura petals on the plating, in celebration of the Sakura season that was occurring at the same time.

Next up we had the White Asparagus Tofu Salad, Served with Puree of Dried Shrimp Stock:

Absolutely gorgeous plating and presentation. The two kinds of Asparagus played off each other nicely and the flavors melded wonderfully with the Tofu Salad & Puree.

Next up was the "Sakura" Sea Bream, Early Cherry Blossom Presentation, Served with Fuki and Celery in Soy Sauce:

Another simply gorgeous presentation! In honor of Sakura season, the plating is meant to give you an image of "Sakura," and it was stunning (the pictures don't do it justice). In addition, more so than the dishes (which also were excellent), the beautiful waft of Sakura Flowers hit you immediately! It was an absolute pleasure to smell fresh Sakura before you even began to eat the dish! The Sea Bream was nice (good texture), but I felt there was just a touch too much soy sauce in the marinade for the Celery, but overall a great dish.

Next up was the Kuzu-Tataki Rock Trout Rice Bowl, Served with Spring Vegetables with the Aroma of Japanese Pepper Buds:

Here was another nice presentation. A gorgeous "Rice Bowl" with ornate designs, and once you opened up the lid, the wonderful light steamed broth and scents of the Rock Trout came pouring out. Also the way he cut the spring vegetables makes it look like a Dragon's Tail (or at least we thought so :). The combination of the fish with the light spring vegetables was perfect.

Next was the Assorted Sashimi Plate, Ryugin Style: Consisting of Ika Topped with Beluga Caviar; Tai; Ohtoro; and Lobster Sashimi.

It's hard to see in the photo, but the glass plating was amazing! A beautiful sheet of glass with real "bubbles" beautifully spaced throughout.

The Ika (Squid) with Beluga Caviar was amazing. Just as tender as Mizutani's Ika the night before, but we both noted that this Ika was chopped up (to help with the creaminess), whereas Mizutani's Ika was pure mastery of knowing his Ika and cutting us the right part. The Beluga paired very well.

The Tai was one of only two missteps by Chef Yamamoto for the entire evening: You can't see it from this angle, but he left the skin on the Tai (just a sliver), which added to a beautiful presentation, but made for total chewiness when you got to the skin.

The Ohtoro was also a disappointment, with this piece having a small bit of "tendon" in the cut, whereas most top-notch Sushi places would have presented a completely tender, tendon-free cut, especially for Ohtoro.

Lastly we had the Lobster Sashimi which was amazing! Chef Yamamoto gave us 2 pieces of each fish, and this one came paired with a Yuzu-infused Sea Salt (so that we could try the traditional Wasabi, and this Sea Salt pairing). Both matched well and the Lobster was spot on perfect.

Next was the Steamed Abalone and Matsuba Crab, With Seaweed and Apple Vinegar Jelly Served "In a Can":

Another creative and cute plating design: Custom Glassware, shaped like a "can" being cut open, complete with a piece of metal that looks like a can opener. :) The Steamed Abalone and Matsuba Crab melded nicely together with the Jelly.

Next up was the Crispy Chargrilled Akamutsu Perch from Choshi, Served with Warm Vegetables and Truffles and Premium Mullet Roe:

My camera wasn't able to capture it that well, but one of the highlights of this dish was the image of the Akamutsu (Blackthroat Seaperch) on the plating: That entire fish image is made out of Miso Sauce for you to apply to our Akamutsu fish! That was definitely something out of Iron Chef. :) The Seaperch was wonderfully crispy and tasty, and when applied to the Miso Sauce (fish image) it was even better. The Mullet Roe was also nice and combined well with the fish.

Next up was the Miyagi Gyu (Beef), Cooked at the Low Heat of 45 Degrees using a Gastrovac, Chargrilled Superior Beef, Sprinkled with Black Truffles.

So with the vacuum cooking process, they explained that the beef should be more succulent and tender, with a good full-bodied flavor, and that certainly was the case here. The beef was very tender, although we couldn't really taste the black truffles.

Next up was the Bamboo Shoot Rice, Containing Sea Scallops and Sea Urchin (Uni):

This was such an interesting and fun riff on the idea of the classic Japanese Breakfast, only done up with extreme sophistication. The traditional Rice was the highlight, with the Scallops topped with Uni that melted wonderfully and combined together in a beautiful merging of flavors! The Tsukemono (Pickles) were done up nicely here as well, with very fresh and crisp pieces pairing nicely with the rice. And the Miso Soup was wonderful: Rich and vibrant. The cutest part of the presentation was that after we finished the rice, the waitress politely asked us "Would you like seconds?" ("Okawari ikagadeshouka?") (^_^) This is usually asked in a more informal atmosphere, and the idea is that in a traditional meal like that, additional helpings of rice are commonplace, only here, it's rice with Scallops and Uni(!). We didn't ask for any more since by this time we were already getting pretty full.

Our dessert courses began at this point, and we were started off with a "Pineapple Tea."

At first when the server mentioned this to us, I thought incredulously about getting some tea that was full of overly sweet "Pineapple Flavor Powder" or some such thing (as seen in Boba Teas, etc.). But instead, the Pineapple Tea showed off another area that Chef Yamamoto has a personal interest in: High Quality Teas, with amazing infusions of Scents. The Pineapple Tea was amazing! It had the *scent* of Pineapple Fruit, but when you tasted it, it was pure, clean, high-quality Tea (with no sugary taste)! It served as a nice palate cleanser.

He then served us a Pineapple Coated with Coconut Sherbert Dessert:

It was simple and clean. The Pineapple fruit wasn't overly tart, and it worked nicely with the Coconut Sherbet.

Next up was the Caramel Tea:

Like the Pineapple Tea, this showed off more of Chef Yamamoto's expertise. This Caramel Tea had all the *scent* of a rich, creamy Caramel, but when you drank it, it was pure, clean, high-quality Tea with no sweetness! It was pretty interesting, and it made for a wonderful drink because you get the *smell* of Caramel without filling up on sugary taste of Caramel.

Next up was the Strawberry Rice Cake with Hot Azuki Beans:

Basically his take on a traditional Mochi, but spruced up with Strawberries and a nice texture from the nutty grains. The Plating was immaculate as well, setting off the Strawberry dessert nicely.

He then brought out a nice Strawberry Tea:

This was like the previous ones. Uniquely different from each other, but also with the wonderful scent of Strawberry without any sugary additives. Very nice.

We then got one of the coolest dishes of the night: "Ryugin Specialty: Minus 196-Degrees Candy Apple."

This was a stunning and cute presentation: A vibrant little "Apple" served with chunks of fresh fruit. The waiter instructed us to crack open the Candy Apple with our spoon (just a light tap), and it cracked open to reveal a sub-zero-like Snowy "Ice Cream Powder"(?). I didn't ask the waiter what was inside, but it tasted so light and airy and wonderful.

We ended with one final special Tea, brought out with a special type of Honey (the name escapes me):

Ryugin provided one of the most memorable, enjoyable meals we had during this Japan Trip. The total bill came out to be ~Y30,000 (~$300 U.S.) per person, and it was worth every Yen of it. Chef Yamamoto and the staff at Ryugin showed off impeccable Service, Hospitality (no pretentiousness), and Excellence in Modern Kaiseki Japanese Food. When I asked to see Chef Yamamoto, he immediately obliged, coming out from the kitchen to thank us, and bowing to us humbly and seeing us off(!).

As a point of reference, Providence in Los Angeles, is one of my favorite places back home, and there was simply no comparison: The level of Service, Plating, Pacing, Food Preparation, and general Excellence exceeded Providence in every way. Ryugin is truly Top-Class Modern Kaiseki cuisine.

*** Rating: 9.7 (out of a Perfect 10.0) ***

Ryugin
日本料理 龍吟
港区六本木7-17-24 サイド六本木ビル 1F
03-3423-8006

Side Roppongi Building 1F, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/

 
 
 
 
  1. e
    exilekiss Apr 12, 2008 12:10 PM

    More pics (the rest of them can be found here (as aforementioned)):

    http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2008/04...

     
     
     
     
    12 Replies
    1. re: exilekiss
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      prasantrin Apr 12, 2008 03:04 PM

      Wow! I loved the pics. I'm trying to get reservations for next month (haven't heard back yet, but I think I might have tried too early), and I was concerned the full tasting menu might have too much food for me. Judging from your pictures, however, I think I might be able to do it! As long as I'm given plenty of time to eat...

      Thanks for posting them, and your review!

      1. re: prasantrin
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        exilekiss Apr 12, 2008 07:02 PM

        Hey prasantrin,

        Good luck with your reservations! :) My Chowhound Friend who accompanied me on this trip isn't a big eater, but was able to finish the Course B just fine. :) Ryugin totally gives you enough time, and none of the dishes were overly oily or heavy (so you won't get filled up so easily). Let us know how it goes. :)

        1. re: exilekiss
          FourSeasons Apr 14, 2008 08:51 PM

          Hi exilekiss:

          Very nice review, certainly the best review on Ryugin here even though it has been posted regularly. If you like Ryugin, you may want to try Ariona de Takazawa on your next trip. Another one of those new wave of young creative Japanese chefs that is recreating a new dining scene. Those of us who have tried simply cannot understand why it is not included in the Michelin but I do expect that to change next year. You can read my brief review (but not as well written as yours) here : http://www.chowhound.com/topics/507444
          The website of Ariona de Takazawa:
          http://www.aroniadetakazawa.com/index...

          1. re: FourSeasons
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            exilekiss Apr 14, 2008 09:10 PM

            Thanks FourSeasons.

            It was because of your posts and Charles Yu and others that I went for it to try Ryugin in the first place. Kanshashimashita! (^_^)

            Thanks for the advice on Ariona de Takazawa. I'll have to check that place out on my next trip to Japan.~

        2. re: prasantrin
          estufarian Apr 18, 2008 07:13 AM

          Reservations opened on Apr 1 for May. I received a call-back the same day (I requested by FAX).

          1. re: estufarian
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            prasantrin Apr 18, 2008 02:30 PM

            No way! I sent my request in April 11 (by fax), and still haven't heard anything. Plus I emailed my hotel, as FourSeasons suggested, and haven't heard anything from them, either!

            I guess I'll have to call. :-(

            1. re: prasantrin
              estufarian Apr 18, 2008 02:45 PM

              It's possible that the English-speaker is away right now. I originally attempted to reserve in Feb and again got a call next day telling me to re-apply on Apr 1st.
              Now, if I can only get Robuchon to reply!
              And Quintessence NEVER replied (or even answered the phone).

              1. re: estufarian
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                prasantrin Apr 18, 2008 03:09 PM

                Which Robuchon are you trying for? It was one of my other choices should Ryugin fall though, but I couldn't decide which one I wanted to try.

                I faxed ryugin again (I really hate calling in Japanese), and mentioned they could call in Japanese if necessary. Hopefully it will work this time, or I'll really have to call!

                1. re: prasantrin
                  estufarian Apr 18, 2008 06:55 PM

                  Trying for the main one with the downstairs as a fall-back.
                  Their website is still showing availability in evenings.

                  1. re: estufarian
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                    prasantrin Apr 19, 2008 12:33 AM

                    The 2nd floor Yebisu Gardens one? Did you fill out the online form or did you fax/e-mail? If for some reason you can't fill in the online form, I'd be happy to do it for you--you can email me at prasantrin at yahoo dot ca. They just need the date, time, number of people, name, number, and email address, and if there's a special purpose for you visit, that can be mentioned, as well.

                    And I faxed Ryugin again, and just got a call not 5 minutes ago! They had been trying to call for the past week (which explains all the hang-ups on my answering machine), but hadn't been able to reach me until today. I'm in!

                    1. re: prasantrin
                      estufarian Apr 19, 2008 02:51 AM

                      Congratulations - leave some of the good stuff for me as I'm there the next day!
                      And Robuchon just confirmed! This time I went direct (email) - last time tried through the Relais & Chateaux site, using their on-line form (which apparently they didn't receive).
                      Now I have my main meals set I can post for the smaller places.

                      1. re: prasantrin
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                        exilekiss Apr 20, 2008 11:53 AM

                        Hey prasantrin,

                        Congrats. :) Let us know how your meal goes there. Hopefully it's as nice as my visit.

        3. p
          prasantrin May 8, 2008 05:13 AM

          exilekiss, do you know if Ryugin does wine pairings or if wine only available by the glass (or bottle)? I checked their website, but couldn't find the information I wanted.

          3 Replies
          1. re: prasantrin
            Robb S May 8, 2008 08:05 AM

            I ate there with a couple of wine sommeliers recently, and we all thought that sake was a far better match for the food than their French wine list would have been.

            Also I think the courses were a little too small and numerous to do one-glass-per-course pairings.

            1. re: prasantrin
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              exilekiss May 8, 2008 10:17 AM

              Hi prasantrin,

              I completely agree with Robb S' comments. :) Sake pairs better with the meal they served. And definitely the numerous courses they had (and the quantity of each one) doesn't lend itself that well, IMHO, with a paired glass of wine with each course.

              It was truly some amazing food at Ryugin and delicate. Some of the wines they had (that I was familiar with) I think would be too much.

              1. re: exilekiss
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                prasantrin May 8, 2008 04:04 PM

                Robb and exilekiss--But I hate sake! Not hate, but I don't particularly care for it. Then again, I generally only like wine when drunk with food, so perhaps it will be the same with sake.

                Or perhaps I'll skip the alcohol altogether, then. I'm a cheap drunk, and I have to make my way to Tokyo Bay after my dinner!

                I do have a coupon for a complimentary glass of champagne with dinner, though. Maybe that will be my sole alcoholic beverage that night.

            2. p
              prasantrin May 23, 2008 05:21 PM

              I just dined at Ryugin last night, just under six weeks after exilekiss' meal. I also had the Gastronomy Course B, but with quite a few differences from exilekiss'. This just highlights Chef Yamamoto's determination to use ingredients at their peaks.

              I did end up ordering two glasses of wine. The first was a white--French, 2005...and that's all I remember. It might have been from the Champagne region, or some other region that starts with "C", and I think the producer was Philippe someone... (can you tell I don't drink much wine?). It was perfect for the first half of the meal. It not only complimented the flavours of the food, but enriched them. As the flavours of the wine mingled with the flavours of the food, they seemed to create new and equally delicious tastes. (I hope someone out there understand what I mean!)

              The second glass was a red--this one I remember a little better--1999, 100% Pinot Noir, French from Bourgogne (I'm almost positive it was from Bourgogne). OK, that's it. Remember, I said I remembered it a little better, not a lot! This one was very easy to drink, and I quite enjoyed it on its own. With the remaining savoury dishes, I didn't think it was as successful as the white. While it didn't clash with any of the flavours of the food, almost as soon as I had a sip of wine, any lingering food flavours disappeared, and I was left with just wine. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a little disappointing after my enjoyment of the white.

              exilekiss mentioned much of the tableware in his write-up. Several of the pieces used at Ryugin are designed by Chef Yamamoto and custom made for the shop. That lacquerware bowl with the dragon in exilekiss' blog is a perfect example of how the creativity of the kitchen extends beyond food. The picture was conceptualized by Chef Yamamoto, and executed by the sous chef. Then it was sent to the makers (I think in the Noto Peninsula), and one year later, they had their bowls. Not all is custom made, but even the purchased pieces are beautiful--the custom made glass "can" that held exilekiss' steamed abalone was based on a larger purchased dish that was used to serve honey (parash honey from India--if anyone knows what kind of flower parash is, the people at Ryugin would love to know!).

              It was a wonderful meal in all. I can see why they were rewarded with two stars (but I can also see why the didn't get three), and I hope to return soon!

              (They also take walk-ins, so if you haven't made a reservation but really want to dine there, try showing up very early and there's a chance they'll fit you in immediately. There were two walk-ins during my dinner, each a party of one. One arrived at 6:45 and was seated immediately, and the other arrived around 8, and was asked to return about half an hour later. Upon doing so, he still had to wait a few minutes to be seated, then many more minutes to get a menu.)

              13 Replies
              1. re: prasantrin
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                exilekiss May 23, 2008 11:14 PM

                Hi prasantrin,

                Great review as well! (^_^) Thanks for the information on the plates; very interesting to know. I can't wait to go back myself. :)

                What was your favorite dish that night?

                1. re: exilekiss
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                  prasantrin May 25, 2008 03:22 AM

                  In terms of plating, the baby ayu was definitely my favourite. When it was placed in front of me, I straightened up, my eyes grew wide, and I couldn't help but smile. I think my reaction must have been amusing, because one of the other waitstaff was passing by as it happened, and she laughed a little. But it was just so...whimsical. I've read that word many times with regards to Chef Yamamoto and Ryugin, and it definitely suits them.

                  In terms of flavours, I think the salmon "trout with crispy skin and fluffy meat" was my favourite. The salmon trout was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I liked the caramel ice cream a lot, too. And the honey served with the tea (it was palash honey from India) was like no other honey I've ever had (in a very good way).

                  I had actually started writing a much longer review that I had intended to post here as well as another board, but it seemed too long to post. I did notice as I was writing it, though, that almost all of my dishes were different from yours. I think only the Ryugin sashimi had the same fish, but it was plated slightly differently. And June 1st, the menu changes again.

                  By the way, exilekiss, did you order any beverages? I think my wine ended up being much more expensive than I had budgeted, but I can't figure out just how much. The B menu was Y25 000 (plus tax, I assume, because on the website it says Y26 250). That means my wine must have been close to Y5000 a glass! Oops...Unfortunately, that was most of my budget for the high-end tempura meal I had planned for Saturday night, but so soon after Ryugin, I think no other meal could have impressed me!

                  1. re: prasantrin
                    Robb S May 25, 2008 03:42 AM

                    There's a service charge added to the bill at Ryugin; I forget if it's 10% or 15%. And they charge for mineral water if you had any of that.

                    1. re: Robb S
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                      prasantrin May 25, 2008 04:06 AM

                      A service charge would definitely explain the extra cost, then! I didn't have any mineral water, but now the wine seems a wee bit (very wee bit) more reasonable than it was pre-service charge.

                    2. re: prasantrin
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                      exilekiss May 25, 2008 05:05 PM

                      Hi prasantrin,

                      Very nice! :) I'm so glad to know that Ryugin / Chef Yamamoto continues to innovate and be so creative (these are drastically different / unique dishes compared to what I had (which was wonderful as well!)). It makes me glad that when I go back, I'll have even more reason (because it'll be another nearly completely unique experience). (^_^)v

                      I can confirm Robb S' post: Ryugin charges a 10% Service Charge (which is fine, considering you don't tip in Japan :), and "no," we didn't order any drinks other than some great Mineral Water off of their Bottle Water Menu(!). :)

                    3. re: exilekiss
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                      prasantrin May 25, 2008 03:40 AM

                      Here are the pictures of my two savoury favourites--the first is the baby ayu--tell me that wouldn't have made you smile! And the second is the salmon trout with a variety of asparagus (they said it was some kind of ancient variety, imported from France), uni on shredded daikon?, koyadoufu with raspberry miso, eggplant (a Japanese kind that doesn't need to be cooked) with yuzu miso, and house-made karasumi (I normally hate karasumi, but this was outstanding!).

                       
                       
                      1. re: prasantrin
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                        exilekiss May 25, 2008 05:05 PM

                        (clicks on pictures)...

                        (^_^)

                        Yes, definitely tottemo kawaii! :) Those look like some really nice dishes as well. I can't wait to go back soon.

                    4. re: prasantrin
                      estufarian May 26, 2008 02:14 PM

                      And I was there the following night - and can continue the raves! Firmly in my top 10 list, although just maybe a notch behind Robuchon (which was 'technically' possibly my greatest meal ever, although some courses missed the mark - give me some time to document that, but I can just add to the Ryugin comments as my meal was obviously almost identical to yours).
                      My favourite course was the Ryugin sashimi – nobody has yet mentioned that each of the 4 samples was accompanied by a different ‘seasoning’ (usually a flavored salt), each matched to the specific fish. And the beluga caviar was a ‘low-salt’ version, which I found more palatable that the ‘real thing’, although it didn’t quite have the ‘pop’ I expected.
                      The presentation of the Ayu was indeed magnificent. We were advised to eat the first fish ‘naked’ and the second with the sauce so as to experience different tastes with the same ingredient.
                      And the caramel ice cream was made with a specific type of sugar-cane (apparently from the chefs in-laws own organic plot that has been in the family for generations). It reminded us of maple sugar, but upon asking we learned more about sugar-cane cultivation that we ever dreamed of.
                      It seemed to me that each course was designed around a specific region/concept – definitely reminded me of Mugaritz in approach. Also, I loved the ‘evolving tea’ concept as we switched from mains to desserts. A great link between the last few courses.

                      Having discovered by now that wine prices/values in Japan are way out-of-line with world standards we decided to try for a series of different sakes instead – and this was an inspired idea. Because of the limited supply of decent sake in Ontario we described only the style(s) we wanted, starting with fragrant/flowery and moving on to earthy/smoky. These went superbly with the meal (the most expensive was around $20 for a 200ml serving – so roughly $75 on a full-bottle equivalent basis). And this kept the bill under control (the sparkling water was $16 for 800ml). And the ‘smoky sake (in 200ml bottles) was the finest I’ve had to date. I kept the label (all in Japanese) and if I can get it translated I’ll post on what it was.

                      This was the only place we visited in Japan where Caucasians outnumbered Asians (actually the only one where non-Asians made even 10%!) and indeed it was one of the ‘easiest’ to transition to – even the tables were western-style. Regrettably, some of the westerners seemed to have bathed in after-shave, which affected everyone’s enjoyment, but I can’t blame the restaurant for that.

                      1. re: estufarian
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                        prasantrin May 26, 2008 05:40 PM

                        Interesting note about the clientele. The night I was there, there were other non-Japanese present, but only two were Caucasian (French). The couple next to me were Korean (though they spoke Japanese very well), and a walk-in later in the evening was perhaps Chinese-born American/Canadian (and me, definitely not Causasian). All the other tables were occupied by Japanese.

                        I was told, however, that some nights, more than half the people dining there were non-Japanese, and that after Michelin came out, they no longer needed to advertise (he was joking, but I think not really...).

                        Do you remember what the powdered red salt was that was served with the sashimi? One of the reasons I didn't mention it was because I couldn't remember what it was. I did very much like the negi flowers, though. They were the tastiest flowers I've ever eaten!

                        I did post a much lengthier review over, which includes some of the comments I've made here, on another board (with pictures), so if anyone is interested, http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s... .(or if it's in bad form to refer to another board, I can repost the entire thing here without the pics).

                        1. re: estufarian
                          e
                          exilekiss May 27, 2008 07:56 AM

                          Hey estufarian,

                          Thanks for your writeup as well. Very nice to hear a continued trend of Consistent High Quality! (^_^) Very fascinating to know about the sugar-cane, and it's nice that you had Ayu.

                          Even if you can't get the labels translated, maybe take a picture of your favorite Sake from that night and post it up here? (^_~)

                          (on a side note, for my meal there, we were the only Americans in the room; everyone else was Japanese (except 1 businessman being taken out to eat here by a Japanese businessman).)

                          1. re: exilekiss
                            estufarian May 29, 2008 09:35 AM

                            Here's the picture of the label (I note it was only 180ml, not 200ml, so effective price around $80 per full-equivalent bottle).
                            Can anyone identify it?
                            NOTE: THE IMAGE DIDN'T MAKE IT AS GOT SERVER ERROR

                            1. re: exilekiss
                              estufarian May 29, 2008 09:45 AM

                              Another attempt to post the photo of the sake - can anyone identify it?

                              1. re: estufarian
                                skylineR33 May 29, 2008 10:10 AM

                                This kind of sake is called 純米大吟醸.

                                大吟醸 = daiginjō-shu. Japanese sake is made with rice. However some Japanese think the outer layer of rice contains too much protein and fat which affect the taste of the wine, so it is removed.

                                純米大吟醸 - indicates the outer layer of rice is removed to 50 %. It is considered some of the best in this class.

                                It is served cold right ? I know some sake lover prefer the normal sake without rice polishing, because with all daiginjō-shu, the alcohol is added in there afterward.

                        2. b
                          benedictsandclubs May 23, 2008 10:30 PM

                          My husband and I just went to Ryu Gin and had the most amazing meal of our lives. Each course was incredibly creative and had a sense of whimsy while maintaining a strong connection to its Japanese roots. The food could not have been more delicious and the service was outstanding with the chef himself serving our soy sauce for the sashimi. I have eaten at amazing restaurants around the world but have never been so impressed. Each dish built perfectly on the previous one. I cannot wait to go back and strongly suggest that if you want the meal and night of your life in Japan this is the place to go. For me, it was the perfect 10. I also want to suggest getting sake. I never liked the drink before having it at Ryu Gin and I would have finished the bottle if I could have.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: benedictsandclubs
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                            exilekiss May 23, 2008 11:16 PM

                            Hi benedictsandclubs,

                            Very nice! :) I'm glad you enjoyed your dinner at Ryugin so much (I, too, loved it if you can tell from my review (^_~)). Here in L.A. I already sorely miss Chef Yamamoto's excellence and creativity, as well as some truly amazing, World-Class Service that makes the whole experience that much greater.

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                            prasantrin Sep 22, 2008 04:15 PM

                            For those thinking of dining at RyuGin in the near future, they no longer offer the cheapest course during regular dining hours. Until 9:30pm, they only offer the Y21 000 and Y26 250 courses. If you want to order a la carte or the Y15 750 course, you must call on the same day you are dining, and you must be dining after 9:30pm. A la carte and the Y15 750 course are subject to availability.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: prasantrin
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                              amrx Sep 23, 2008 05:16 PM

                              How comfortable is dining at Ryugin? The pictures I can find seem to show hard armless chairs.

                              1. re: amrx
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                                prasantrin Sep 23, 2008 06:56 PM

                                I can't remember much about the chairs, but I don't think they were uncomfortable. They were certainly comfortable enough for me to spend 3-ish hours sitting in them (and I definitely would have noticed if they had been uncomfortable).

                                1. re: prasantrin
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                                  Asomaniac Sep 23, 2008 09:12 PM

                                  The chairs are fine. I went again a few days ago, and definitely would have noticed if they were particularly uncomfortable.

                                  Ryugin is still a great must-go place, but the last meal I had there was the weakest of them all so far, I must admit.

                                  They have changed a lot of things, making the restaurant a bit less customer-friendly (a la carte now only from 9:30, used to be 8:30; the cheapest menu only available at certain times; they now want you to tell them in adance which menu you want (the latter is not unusual in Japan, but did not use to be the case at Ryugin)). This does not affect me directly as I always just order their biggest set menu on the basis that the price differences between menues are not that huge, and on the rare occasion you go to such a top restaurant, you might as well go for their best offering. But it is indicative of something when a restaurant becomes a little less customer friendly.

                                  The food was very good, but some of the courses were not top noth. The eel for example was very overdone and you'd expect better even at places with no Michelin stars, let alone two. There were some real highlights as well - the ika and caviar combination was divine, as was the awabi shabu shabu. The sakes were a real highlight as well. We had some very elegant daijinjoushu (two were with a seimaibuai of 28 and 30, which means that 72% and 70%, respectively, of the rice had been polished away), some great sparkling sake to start off with and some completely divine namazake (made with wild yeasts). Service was impeccable.

                                  I would always recommend the restaurant to everyone who has not been and likes Japanese food, but I do hope that they will return to their previously close to perfect overall standards.

                                  1. re: Asomaniac
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                                    amrx Sep 24, 2008 01:12 PM

                                    To prasantrin and Asomaniac: I greatly appreciate your replies. Thank you.

                                    1. re: amrx
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                                      amrx Sep 30, 2008 08:28 AM

                                      I'm booked for dinner on October 23. This string has been very informative and I'm grateful to all the posters.

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