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[Tokyo] Ryugin


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#1 prasantrin

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 02:04 PM

I know at least one other eG member has dined at Ryugin recently (the evening after I did!), and I think it deserves its own topic. Plus this is going to be looooooong, and I don't know where else to put it! Some parts of this can be found on another board, so if it sounds familiar, it's because it just may be.

I just dined at Ryugin Friday night, just under six weeks after exilekiss' meal which I mentioned in Peter Green’s travelogue. I also had the Gastronomy Course B, but my meal was almost entirely different. I was told it was the “Late Spring” menu. This just highlights Chef Yamamoto's determination to use ingredients at their peaks. (Early Summer menu will debut June 1st, for anyone wanting to try it!)

I'm not much of a creative writer or thinker, so I lack the ability to phrase my prose as beautifully as most. Plus I never take notes, so I’ve forgotten a lot of information, so please bear with me!

A little background, Chef Yamamoto and Ryugin have been mentioned on eG before--a couple of eG members have dined at Ryugin—most recently Peter Green, but Culinista was there two years ago (though I don’t think s/he ever fully wrote about the experience). Chef Yamamoto was also mentioned in the Madrid Fusion 2007 topic, and docsconz's Starchefs 2007 topic. I don't think Ryugin stuck in my head until docsconz posted the restaurant's homepage, and even then, it only stuck because I thought the website was extremely annoying to navigate. I still think it's annoying, but I've since learned the sous chef did many (all?) of the drawings for the site. There's also an English FAQ that was just added (last week?). Only three questions so far, but I wish I had read it before going!

My menu can be seen (in two parts) below:
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I didn’t ask for a copy of the menu, but after the first few courses, the server with whom I spoke the most came over and brought me a copy. I was asking a lot of questions, and trying to remember what I was being told, and I guess he sensed my interest in the food. I thought it was terribly thoughtful of him! He also gave me a business card for a store where Chef Yamamoto sources a lot of his purchased glassware. I think the custom made glassware may be made there, as well. Service is extremely personable at Ryugin. I dined quite early (6:30), so I got a lot of attention. Were you to dine later (around 8), you would not be able to chat with the staff as much, so I would suggest going very early, or very late (as Peter did).

I don’t have a picture of the first course, the Hamaguri Clam in Snow White Soup, but it was presented as “Chateau Ryugin” as seen in Peter’s travelogue. It had a wonderfully clean flavour. It was explained how the flavour was extracted, but I can’t remember now…

My first course after Chateau Ryugin was Deep-fried Baby Ayu with Tade Red Vinegar.
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The tade red vinegar (tade, according to my dictionary, is smartweed or water pepper) has a touch of watermelon in it. Why? As it was explained to me, ayu naturally have a hint of watermelon flavour to them naturally due to their diet (they don’t eat watermelon, however, but moss). Baby ayu are too young to have eaten much moss, so they don’t have that natural watermelon flavour, and the Chef adds watermelon to the sauce to mimic what will eventually happen naturally. The ayu, by the way, were alive until they hit the fryer. That explains how they were able to accomplish the presentation—they were plated as though they were still swimming in the lake (these were from Lake Biwa). The Early Summer menu will have larger ayu, so I imagine it will be served in a much different way. I hope to go back and try it! But maybe not this year...

I love the presentation of the ayu. When it was placed in front of me, I sat up straight, my eyes grew wide, and I couldn’t help but smile. One of the other waitstaff passed by as this happened, and she laughed a little at my reaction. Really, whimsical is the best way to describe this dish, as well as many of the others. It’s a word oft used with regards to Chef Yamamoto and Ryugin, but it really does describe them well.

My next dish was Bamboo Shoot, Potherb Mustard and Shiro-Zuiki dressed in Sudachi Soy Sauce with Shimaebi Shrimp. Shiro-Zuiki is the stem of young satoimo (taro) greens. I think this was my “salad” dish. All the greens used were organic, and the shrimp was so sweet I could have just eaten more of them for the rest of my meal and been more than happy. (no picture)

Then I had “Pampered Beef” sliced in Shabushabu style in Gelee of White Radish and Ponzu Vinegar served with White Asparagus.
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This was one of my favourites of the night. The beef is swished in 70C water, then “shocked” in 20C water rather than ice water. It had the appearance of being raw, but it simply melted in your mouth.

I had the soup next. It was served in the same bowl as used for exilekiss’, but it was Hamo in Shabushabu style in Hamo Bones Stock.
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I normally don’t care for hamo, but this dish was very well done. Subtle, yet flavourful. And I want to know how he got the bones out of the hamo to make the stock! (actually, I vaguely remember something about giving hamo an MRI…)

I think the sashimi I had were the same as exilekiss’, but I also had edible negi flowers, and a couple of other little leaves (I think one was shiso) on my plate. The plate was also custom made.
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I’m not sure if this is always done, but the Chef came out to pour everyone’s soy sauce (he doesn’t make his own soy sauce, but he custom blends it in the kitchen) onto the plate (which is designed by Chef and custom made) and explain the fish. He (and a couple of other staff members) also came outside (literally) to thank you and see you off as you left. A wonderful touch, especially given how busy he must be in the kitchen.

My abalone dish was Abalone Liver (ankimo) Chawanmushi with Slow-Cooked Abalone (steamed for 10 hours).
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I’ve never liked abalone, but I could certainly get used to eating slow-cooked abalone. It’s still chewy, yet it’s much more tender than any other abalone I’ve had. I didn’t find the ankimo chawanmushi to be terribly interesting in flavour, though it had a lovely soft and creamy texture.

Chargrilled Crispy “Oome Masu” Trout.
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On the menu, it says “the contrast of Crunchy Skin and Fluffy Meat”. I have to admit, the reason I chose Menu B was because of that particular teaser. Who doesn’t love crunchy fish skin? When the dish was set in front of me, however, I thought, “Hey! Where’s my skin???” I couldn’t see any skin at all on the two slices of fish on my plate. I was prepared to be disappointed, but with my first bite, I was ecstatic. It really was a contrast of crunchy skin (very crunchy, I might add) and moist and tender meat (I didn’t really think it was “fluffy”). This was my other favourite dish of the night. Also on the plate--asparagus (the forebearer of aspargus, imported from France), uni on daikon (loved the uni, but I'd rather have had it without the daikon), koyadoufu with raspberry miso (I hate raspberry, but I loved this!), eggplant (a variety that doesn't need to be cooked) with yuzu (?) miso, and karasumi. I hate karasumi, but this was made in-house and it was like to karasumi I've ever had! It was soft and pliable, and it had a wonderful flavour. I could have eaten more of these...

Next up is “Young Pigeon roasted with straw, “Tosa Style” with Wasabi Soy Sauce.
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I was struggling by this time (I’m not a big eater unless it’s Old Dutch Bar-B-Q chips), so perhaps I would have enjoyed this dish more if I hadn’t been forcing myself to eat. I enjoyed the flavours, but it was a little difficult trying to cut the pigeon (which I was told was cooked tataki-style—lightly boiled, she said, then quickly grilled) with a butter knife. OK, it wasn’t a butter knife, but a Laguiole knife, but it certainly felt like I was cutting with a butter knife. Perhaps I’m not experienced enough to know how to use a Laguiole knife properly…(at first I thought I might have been holding the knife upside down, but some experimentation proved me wrong).

Also on the plate is some daikon and I can’t remember what the mound was that is covered by summer truffles. I think it was daikon oroshi, and it had a very familiar flavour, but it was served warm. Daikon oroshi isn’t usually served warm, is it? Or maybe it was some kind of imo??
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While eating my pigeon, one of the staff asked me if I was becoming very full (they could easily see I was struggling, and while eating the previous two dishes, they often told me “Murishinai de!” But how could I not try to finish all that delightful food?). When I replied affirmatively, she offered to give me a smaller portion of the rice and miso soup course. I gratefully accepted her offer.

The rice served at Ryugin is custom grown. No, just kidding, but it’s grown by Chef Yamamoto’s in-laws in Shikoku, as Peter mentioned, so they have a life-time supply. It was served with Special Sweet Corn and Young Green Peas topped with “Sakuraebi Prawn”.
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When I saw the dish, I was again prepared to be disappointed. I hate those little shrimp, and the sight of corn and peas on rice brings back memories of eating really bad Chinese fried rice with frozen corn and peas ordered by friends who didn’t know any better. But again, my fears were unfounded. The rice was perfectly cooked—I normally don’t like Japanese rice as I find it to be mushy, but this was just on the cooked side of al dente, and there was no excess moisture to it. The peas were very small—no more than 2 or 3mm, I think, but I loved eating them individually, as each bite produced a little pop of sweetness. Delicious. I managed to finish my rice, but left a bit of the miso soup. I still had dessert coming up! This course was served with mugicha, I think.

The rice, pickles, and miso soup are o-kawari, by the way. In other words, you can get unlimited quantities of any of them.

The palate cleanser was Compote of Supreme “Salt Tomato” in Sweet-and-Sour Flavoured Thick Juicy Gelee.
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Served chilled, it was reminiscent of a sorbet (which I think was the point). Salt Tomato, by the way, is the type of tomato named because of the type of soil it’s grown in. Served with sencha.
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Can I just mention how much I loved the cups and saucers? When I lifted the cup I just had to smile again. Who would have expected a hole in the middle of the saucer? I was the told the servers love it, too, because they don’t have to worry about the cups sliding off the saucers :smile: These were custom made for the restaurant, unfortunately, or I’d buy a set of them!

Caramel Ice Cream made with Wasanbon Sugar is my other favourite dish (wait a minute…how many favourites do I have now??).
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The wasanbon sugar is produced from sugar cane grown by Chef’s in-laws. Who knew they grew sugar cane in Shikoku?? There was a wee bit of ginger salt on the side. Perfect. Served with tea, but I can’t remember what kind now. Or maybe it was still sencha.

And finally, the Minus 196 degree Celsius Candy Apple.
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Whimsical, delightful, but not one of my favourites of the night. It was, however, the perfect way to end the meal. Served with apple-infused black tea with a square saucer!
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This was also where the very cool honey “pot” was brought out. I loved the spoon, especially! It wasn’t custom made, but they couldn’t tell me where it was from. The honey is palash honey from India, which v. gautam very kindly discussed here..
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I thought I was finished at this point, so I put my napkin on the table, but I wasn’t finished…just two cups of tea remained—cinnamon followed by strawberry.

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.

I think my wine choices were a little expensive—probably about Y2000-3000 a glass (maybe even more) based on my total bill (depending on how much the service charge was).

Chef Yamamoto and a couple of the FOH staff come outside to bid you farewell as you leave. Had I read the brand new FAQ, I'd have asked to have my picture taken with him (you can ask at that time, but they prefer you not ask during your meal). But I don't normally ask for things like that (too shy, doncha know!), so I didn't.

exilekiss mentioned much of the tableware in his write-up. I love tableware, so I asked a lot of questions about the dishes. Several of the pieces used at Ryugin are custom made, and are designed by Chef Yamamoto. 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 me honey. The glass shellfish used to hold my abalone and the glass vases and centerpiece holders were purchased from a company called Sugahara (and they even have a store in my neck of the woods!). The cups and doughnut-hole saucers were also conceptualized by the chef, and custom made.

An experience at Ryugin will truly make you smile for so many different reasons. It was a wonderful dinner, and I dine there again!

#2 docsconz

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 02:20 PM

Thank you, Rona, for this wonderful report. Ryugin is one of the restaurants highest on my list to get to. It has been there ever since I met Chef Yamamoto in NYC and saw his fascinating presentation that included the hamo, the apple, the Chateau Ryugin and a few other things.
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#3 Prawncrackers

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 03:15 PM

Bravo Rona, fantastically detailed report. That candy apple looks delightful.

Maybe one to add to list for when we're next in Tokyo, planning ahead already!

#4 OnigiriFB

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:24 PM

OMG OMG OMG! If I ever make it big I want to go there so bad! Those ayu... i'm at a lost for words (which is bad for a writer!). I want to get published and if I do I'm coming to Japan and going to this restaurant. You will ahve to come with me Rona, I'll pay! Maybe we can convince Peter to jaunt around and come too! :P

#5 estufarian

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 07:30 AM

Great report (and pictures).
Yes, I dined there the following night, with the identical menu (except I substituted for the tomato, to which I have a mild allergy).

It’s obviously superfluous to repeat what was an excellent description – but I can add a few observations:

First note that there are no ‘outside’ signs with the restaurant name in English, although the directions should get you there comfortably. But it helps to have a printout of the name in Kanji. Also, the entrance prepares you for the ‘experience’ by leading you along a narrow corridor around the building – essentially giving a space to leave the outside bustle behind and prepare for the experience ahead. It’s similar in concept to the entrance at Alinea in Chicago, although I was reminded more of Mugaritz (to which I think Ryugin has many conceptual similarities) in attempting to create the same commencing atmosphere for all visitors.

I did peruse the wine list and frankly it was fairly pedestrian – but given the price of wine in Tokyo generally, I think it tried hard to hit a price point, rather than a comprehensive list. And certainly the selection of waters was fairly good (about 10 overall) although not cheap (around $12-20 for a bottle). I wasn’t offered a sake menu in English (only Japanese) suggesting that most non-Japanese speakers probably don’t venture into that territory; and as I hadn’t learned to read Japanese, but probably have a greater taste for sake that most non-Asians, I was determined to attempt to order some decent stuff. This dinner came at the end of my trip and by now I knew that decent sake was reasonably priced in restaurants so I put myself in Ryugin’s hands (they had two sommeliers) and asked to start with a fragrant sake that would complement the food. This was a very palatable Namazake (pasteurized) Junmai (pure – only rice, no additives) Ginjo (premium) sake but I couldn’t interpret the brand. I later asked to switch to a more earthy/smoky style (typically servings are 300ml or less, which can easily be shared). As for all quality sakes these were served on ice. The smoky sake (in particular) was superb, served from 200ml bottles costing ¥ 2,000 (around $20 i.e. $75 for a 750ml bottle of wine equivalent, which is a real deal compared to wine prices in Tokyo). I wish I could tell you more but the label was totally Japanese – although I kept it and will be passing it on to my local sake expert for translation. Just trust me on this one and ask for it if you go. But be prepared to order several more bottles! (Oversimplifying, if you want a good sake anywhere in Japan, it’s simple to specify “Junmai” – you’ll be reasonably successful – or you’ll be in a place that doesn’t serve quality sake!).

For the spectacular ayu dish, it was suggested we eat one of the ayu “naked”, then the other with the sauce to be able to appreciate the addition of the watermelon flavour. I actually preferred the naked version, which allowed the purity of the flavor to show through.
The ‘salad’ was notable for its texture, crunch and acid balance – very refreshing.
The ‘pampered beef’ for me was a slight dip in flavor (although AmuseGirl disagreed – she finds quality Wagyu beef too fatty in mouthfeel, and this avoided that fattiness), but the texture was again superb, with the crunch of the asparagus providing a perfect counterpoint.
And the hamo (sea-eel) dish was indeed subtle, with the flesh ‘fluffed up’ by the process of removing the multiple bones (my sympathies here to the commis who probably had to debone this!).
The sashimi was superb – my favorite ever. And the beluga caviar was a ‘special low-salt’ version which I found much more attractive than the normal version, which has never been a favorite of mine.
The abalone dish didn’t really work for me either. Not much flavor – all about texture, in theory, but too little contrast.
The trout dish was simply superb! Complex, flavorful – firing on all cylinders!
The pigeon was also superb – although by now we were on the second bottle of the smoky sake! Beautifully tender. Amazing aromas – too intense to be from a summer truffle! My notes say the ‘mound’ was a combination of daikon and taro and upon asking about the truffle it was revealed that this combination was infused with white truffle oil (from Alba) and a fresh summer white truffle (first time for me) had been sliced on top.
The rice, soup and pickle dish was indeed a struggle (for volume, not flavor) – but the sake carried me through again. Again, all about textures.

The transition to desserts is worth emphasizing because of the sequence of teas that is served. Starting with a roasted tea, then followed sequentially by green tea, lime tea, strawberry & rhubarb tea, strawberry & rhubarb plus palash honey, cinnamon and finally apricot & raspberry. These come out starting as one finishes the ‘soup & rice’ and end after the candy apple. A wonderfully aromatic sequence that is a highlight and an exciting approach.

As mentioned above, I passed on the tomato and was served a pineapple and coconut cream combination, with a great mouth feel (but less exciting presentation).

All-in-all a great experience – now in my top 10 all-time list (around #6) – well worth a visit!

#6 Peter Green

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 08:56 AM

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"I love the presentation of the ayu. When it was placed in front of me, I sat up straight, my eyes grew wide, and I couldn’t help but smile. One of the other waitstaff passed by as this happened, and she laughed a little at my reaction."

Reading this, I can picture exactly the look you must have had when this was placed in front of you. :biggrin:

I wish I could've been earlier in the night and have done the longer menu like you did, but I was just happy they could fit us in. It was one of my favourite meals in the Japan trip.

But I'm still waiting for the DHL with the leftovers! :sad:

#7 docsconz

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 12:04 PM

Also, the entrance prepares you for the ‘experience’ by leading you along a narrow corridor around the building – essentially giving a space to leave the outside bustle behind and prepare for the experience ahead. It’s similar in concept to the entrance at Alinea in Chicago, although I was reminded more of Mugaritz (to which I think Ryugin has many conceptual similarities) in attempting to create the same commencing atmosphere for all visitors.


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Interesting observation as Seiji Yamamoto and Andoni Luis Aduriz are in fact very good friends.


I wish I had this topic before I went to India so I could have looked for the Palash honey while I was there.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#8 estufarian

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 03:36 PM

[quote name='docsconz' date='May 27 2008, 03:04 PM']
[/quote]

Interesting observation as Seiji Yamamoto and Andoni Luis Aduriz are in fact very good friends.


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[/quote]

I didn't know that. It certainly shows though - there were several similarities throughout the meal. And I now rank them essentially at the same level (but that's a coincidence).
My view of these two are that they are sort of an evolution of the Alice Waters philosophy (with which most eGulleters will be more familiar - I'm not suggesting that either is "following" Waters). A concentration on local fresh flavors but overlaid with a cultural emphasis representative of the local traditions. More of an emotional connection.

#9 Culinista

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 05:42 PM

What a coincidence. My husband is in Japan this week and went to Ryugin on Monday--without me :angry: He went to Kanetanaka last night, am breathlessly awaiting the report. He is going to Mizutani tonight, so I may not be speaking to him when he gets back.

My meal there two years ago was very different--the unagi dish was the outstanding one, and to this day one of the best unagi preparations I have ever had. Yamamoto's knife skills are really superb. I don't think the hamo's bones are removed--they are chopped into tiny edible bits in the flesh. I also don't see the silkscreened patterns he was doing back then, or the dummy wine corks.

Also, I believe the baby ayu look that way because they were tossed into the frying oil alive, which explains their shocked expression. I wish I could post a picture of some baby ayu faces I had in December in Matsumoto, but I am a Luddite.

Mugaritz and Ryugin share bits of decor as well. Yamamoto-san presented Andoni with the same painted wooden inscription in calligraphy that is hanging over the bar (Andoni's is displayed in the "confessional"), while Andoni gave Yamamoto-san one of Mugaritz's table sculptures.

And finally, I'm a she :laugh:

#10 docsconz

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 06:03 PM

[quote name='estufarian' date='May 27 2008, 06:36 PM']
[quote name='docsconz' date='May 27 2008, 03:04 PM']
[/quote]

Interesting observation as Seiji Yamamoto and Andoni Luis Aduriz are in fact very good friends.


View Post

[/quote]

I didn't know that. It certainly shows though - there were several similarities throughout the meal. And I now rank them essentially at the same level (but that's a coincidence).
My view of these two are that they are sort of an evolution of the Alice Waters philosophy (with which most eGulleters will be more familiar - I'm not suggesting that either is "following" Waters). A concentration on local fresh flavors but overlaid with a cultural emphasis representative of the local traditions. More of an emotional connection.

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[/quote]

Aduriz is an adherent of the term "technoemotional" tp describe his cuisine.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#11 prasantrin

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 06:54 PM

I don't think the hamo's bones are removed--they are chopped into tiny edible bits in the flesh. I also don't see the silkscreened patterns he was doing back then, or the dummy wine corks.


They really are removed. If you read docsconz's report on the Starchef's Congress, you can read all about his technique. The broth was described as "hamo bone stock". (I wrote something about an MRI, but it was a CT scan.)

Also, I believe the baby ayu look that way because they were tossed into the frying oil alive, which explains their shocked expression. I wish I could post a picture of some baby ayu faces I had in December in Matsumoto, but I am a  Luddite.


Yes, that's true. I thought I had written about that, but I guess I edited it out. On one hand, I loved the presentation, but on the other hand....those poor ayu fried alive!

I hadn't planned on taking pictures that night, as I don't normally take pictures at places like Ryugin, but when I saw the ayu...I couldn't help myself!

And finally, I'm a she  :laugh:

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:biggrin: I'll try to remember!

Do you remember enough about your dinner there to report on it? Are there any similarities between your dinner and mine? (Different seasons would bring different ingredients, of course, but I'm just wondering if any of the techniques were similar, or if you think they may have evolved, etc.)

#12 prasantrin

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 07:26 PM

OMG OMG OMG! If I ever make it big I want to go there so bad! Those ayu... i'm at a lost for words (which is bad for a writer!). I want to get published and if I do I'm coming to Japan and going to this restaurant. You will ahve to come with me Rona, I'll pay! Maybe we can convince Peter to jaunt around and come too! :P

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Don't worry, I would gladly pay my own way to eat there again! You've got a limited time if you want me to join you, though. I'm only here till March 2010!

docsconz and Prawncrackers--you really do have to try RyuGin (I just realized they write it with an uppercase "G"). There are other places in Tokyo I'd like to try (I actually tried to get a reservation at Aronia de Takazawa, but they only seat about 8 people a night, and only in parties of two or three, so no solo diners :sad:), but I would most definitely dine at RyuGin again. And I don't say that of very many high-end restaurants.

If there are any professional chefs planning to be in Japan, RyuGin does accept stagieres from abroad. You can even request a stage on their website.

#13 tupac17616

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 09:22 PM

Rona, fantastic report! Thanks! Why, oh why, was Ryugin closed while I was in Tokyo?! Must. Go. Back.

#14 torakris

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 10:28 PM

(I actually tried to get a reservation at Aronia de Takazawa, but they only seat about 8 people a night, and only in parties of two or three, so no solo diners :sad:)

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:shock: :shock: :shock:
RONA!!
I'd would have gone with you!

How much did the meal at Ryugin cost?

There are so many restaurant report threads going on right now I really feel like I should get out more....
My last 3 meals out were at McDonald's and Skylark and Saizeriya (the last 2 are cheap family restaurants).

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#15 prasantrin

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:27 PM

:shock:  :shock:  :shock:
RONA!!
I'd would have gone with you!

How much did the meal at Ryugin cost?

There are so many restaurant report threads going on right now I really feel like I should get out more....
My last 3 meals out were at McDonald's and Skylark and Saizeriya (the last 2 are cheap family restaurants).

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Really? I'd have asked, but I didn't think anyone would be interested in joining me on a Friday night (y'all have families, after all).

I can't remember exactly how much it was, and it hasn't shown up, yet, in my online AMEX balance. It was less than Y40 000, though, for dinner and two glasses of wine (including tax and 10% service charge). The dinner course I chose was Y26 250 including tax, and I think my total was something like Y36 000.

Which really isn't that bad, relatively speaking (relative to other high-end restaurants, I mean :biggrin:)

(I told my mother about my dinner, and then about the wedding I attended. I mentioned that I had been given some money to cover part of my transportation costs to Tokyo, and my mother said, "Well, at least that will pay for your expensive dinner." I replied, "But Mom, my dinner was more expensive than my transportation!" I thought it was funny.)

If I go again next month, would you go with me? I might be going to Tokyo to attend a former student's exhibition (she's got a show in Ginza!). That's a big "if", though. I probably won't get to Tokyo again till the fall! :sad:

#16 thelobster

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 05:38 AM

I also had a fantastic meal at Ryugin recently (the same night as Peter Green, in fact), and I won't duplicate the excellent descriptions here other than a few quick comments.

First note that there are no ‘outside’ signs with the restaurant name in English, although the directions should get you there comfortably. But it helps to have a printout of the name in Kanji.

I actually ended up walking past the actual restaurant a few times. I saw a red exterior and the kanji for dragon so I naturally assumed it was a Chinese restaurant!

Namazake (pasteurized)

Unpasturized I'm sure you meant to say.

I wish I could tell you more but the label was totally Japanese – although I kept it and will be passing it on to my local sake expert for translation.

Does it happen to match any of the sake I had? (click for photo and scroll to bottom).

I thought our sommelier did a great job, or at least his choices corresponded to my tastes once we asked him to take over the recommendations. He even gave us small pre-tastings of a couple of his more offbeat choices, in case we didn't like them, which was thoughtful. He also had a good selection of several vintage koshu sake to go with dessert.

All in all, my meal was much better than I expected, and I had high expectations. I think I expected something very flashy and exciting, so I was pleased to additionally find substance beneath the flash.

Edited by thelobster, 28 May 2008 - 05:38 AM.


#17 OnigiriFB

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 02:54 PM

OMG OMG OMG! If I ever make it big I want to go there so bad! Those ayu... i'm at a lost for words (which is bad for a writer!). I want to get published and if I do I'm coming to Japan and going to this restaurant. You will ahve to come with me Rona, I'll pay! Maybe we can convince Peter to jaunt around and come too! :P

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Don't worry, I would gladly pay my own way to eat there again! You've got a limited time if you want me to join you, though. I'm only here till March 2010!

docsconz and Prawncrackers--you really do have to try RyuGin (I just realized they write it with an uppercase "G"). There are other places in Tokyo I'd like to try (I actually tried to get a reservation at Aronia de Takazawa, but they only seat about 8 people a night, and only in parties of two or three, so no solo diners :sad:), but I would most definitely dine at RyuGin again. And I don't say that of very many high-end restaurants.

If there are any professional chefs planning to be in Japan, RyuGin does accept stagieres from abroad. You can even request a stage on their website.

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Wha??? Where are you jaunting off to in 2010 if I may ask? Middle east? I have to say the middle east facinates me culturally etc but doubt I could live there... it's all in the food man. I realize every where I want to go or live is because the FOOD. If that doesnt make me a lifelong egulleter I don't know what will? :raz:

#18 prasantrin

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 04:04 PM

Wha??? Where are you jaunting off to in 2010 if I may ask? Middle east?  I have to say the middle east facinates me culturally etc but doubt I could live there... it's all in the food man. I realize every where I want to go or live is because the FOOD. If that doesnt make me a lifelong egulleter I don't know what will?  :raz:

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I have a 6-year max contract, so 2010 is the longest I can stay (not that I would want to stay longer--I didn't really even want to stay this year, and only after great great deliberations decided to stay for a final 6th year). I'll probably be back in Canada for a few years, depending on the health of my mother, then off to the UAE or somewhere else. Possibly even Japan, again, but who knows!

Ya, food is important. But the beauty of the UAE is the availability of pretty much everything you need to make your own good food, plus the ability to fly to Europe or Asia on a whim--and you can get all the good food you want there! That's pretty much the only reason (not including money) that I'd go to the UAE. Oh, the people. Locals (i.e. Emirati) are very warm and friendly if you ever get a chance to mix with them.

#19 torakris

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 04:26 PM

:shock:  :shock:  :shock:
RONA!!
I'd would have gone with you!

How much did the meal at Ryugin cost?

There are so many restaurant report threads going on right now I really feel like I should get out more....
My last 3 meals out were at McDonald's and Skylark and Saizeriya (the last 2 are cheap family restaurants).

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Really? I'd have asked, but I didn't think anyone would be interested in joining me on a Friday night (y'all have families, after all).


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Just let me know. My husband works from home 75% of the time now so it is easier for me to get out when I want to. Some nights are better than others but it just depends.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
Manager, Membership
kwagner@egstaff.org


#20 estufarian

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 08:40 AM

Does it happen to match any of the sake I had? (click for photo and scroll to bottom).

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Here's the photo of mine - seems to be different.

http://forums.egulle...d=si&img=126610

Can you help in identifying it?

#21 prasantrin

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:47 PM

Here's the photo of mine - seems to be different.

http://forums.egulle...d=si&img=126610

Can you help in identifying it?

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The only thing I can get out of the that is 17% alcohol! :biggrin: And daiginjo, and something about Yamada.

Where are rest of your pictures? Hint hint...

Did you notice the flower arrangement when you entered the building? It was a takenoko "vase". Pretty cool, I thought.

#22 estufarian

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 03:09 PM

Haven't even started to sort out my pictures! Too busy - haven't even sorted out all my notes on other meals yet.
And off to Newfoundland next week - have to research that too.
And we didn't notice the flowers - still trying to get over the downpour and drip-dry I think.
But I've sent the photo off to my favourite sake importer to see what (if anything) he can come up with.

#23 Hiroyuki

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:27 PM

The sake is junmai daiginjo made by Miyoshi Kiku Shuzo, located in Tokushima.
Website:
http://www.macserver...les/wordpress1/
Japanese only.
The rice variety used is Yamada Nishiki (thought to be the best rice for making sake).
Milling ratio: 50%
Nihonshu degree(?): +5
Alcohol content: 17
Acidity: 1.5

#24 OnigiriFB

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 06:09 PM

The sake is junmai daiginjo made by Miyoshi Kiku Shuzo, located in Tokushima.
Website:
http://www.macserver...les/wordpress1/
Japanese only.
The rice variety used is Yamada Nishiki (thought to be the best rice for making sake).
Milling ratio:  50%
Nihonshu degree(?):  +5
Alcohol content:  17
Acidity:  1.5

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YAY!!! Hiroyuki-san is back!!! thank fsm!

And Kristen don't think I didn't notice you gone for a bit.... :)

#25 Culinista

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 03:39 AM

This was from Sept. 5, 2006: I do not have photos, so this could not be fully accurate.

Shokuzen: fried sayori, gingko nuts, and chestut chips with fall leaves

Martini glass filled with charcoal grilled and then fried baby ayu (no flour), togan grilled egplant, two vegetable stocks, daikon foam. I seem to recall a vegetable stuffed with uni, but I am not sure.

a shredded zuihiki salad with fine nori threads, dressed with sudachi and wasabi

foie gras, sesame spuma, threads of myoga, and fig in a double-walled glass bowl from Moriyama. Ginger did not belong in this dish, IMO.

"Cold shabu-shabu" Fatty Sendai beef cooked in a low-temp shabu-shabu for a few minutes and then shocked in sake and salt water. Came with a ponzu jelly.

Excellent hamo-matsutake wanmori clear soup with green yuzu. The bones were still in the hamo, but it was great.

Tsukuri: Tokushima karei, lobster-stuffed daikon, very showy waffle-cut otoro (major knife skills) served with flaked sea salt, bainiku, rather overpowering ebi and yuzu powders. Rather awfully paired with a Sancerre.

Edamame infusion on flowered baby green salad--about 30 different components-- inspired by the Mugaritz emmenthal salad. The thick dressing was almost meaty tasting, with a very strong kobu dashi base.

Shiro amadai e like a pine cone with false charcoal (another Mugaritz inspiration). Sudachi air I noted tasted like dish detergent, but the amadai was so perfectly grilled you could eat the scales. Yamamoto apparently introduced Andoni to binchotan charcoal which inspired the original Mugaritz dish, so the cycle is complete.

Shark's fin with steamed abalone and myoga

Absolutely awesome unadon with miso, tofu, and eggplant salad. The highlight of the meal.

A "carbonated grape" a la Fat Duck.

Watermelon juice we sipped through a sugar straw, then ate the straw.

Very fast-melting warabi-mochi with kinako, coconut, and genmaicha powders. Very spectacular, with a mousse-like interior.

Chocolate fantasy dessert on a chocolate silkscreened plate. There was a bar code that can be scanned on a cell phone, which directs the diner to an online virtual greeting from Yamamoto.

Stevia mint tea

The candy apple

Grapefruit tea

My husband reports less gimmicky food this time, with more balanced flavors.

#26 estufarian

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 04:46 AM

The sake is junmai daiginjo made by Miyoshi Kiku Shuzo, located in Tokushima.
Website:
http://www.macserver...les/wordpress1/
Japanese only.
The rice variety used is Yamada Nishiki (thought to be the best rice for making sake).
Milling ratio:  50%
Nihonshu degree(?):  +5
Alcohol content:  17
Acidity:  1.5

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Thank you.
Now I can set about trying to find it in North America too.
And, of course, it can be tried by anyone else who visits RyuGin - and based on this thread so far that could be a large number.

For me this was the best 'food' sake I've tried. Less aromatic than some, but really wrapped around the food. Certainly smoky with a background of earth/mushrooms. Would substitute for a pinot noir or barrel-fermented chardonnay (and much cheaper than either in a Japan based restaurant). And because of the size (180ml serving) a relatively cheap way for even a novice to try this match - you can always order more!

#27 Hiroyuki

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Posted 30 May 2008 - 11:54 PM

As someone has already mentioned, the official website of Ryugin is rather difficult to navigate.
Here's some information about the restaurant:

まず琵琶湖の稚鮎が入り始めました。
 6月1日より解禁となる川の天然鮎が出回るまでの1ヶ月だけ、
 龍吟では稚鮎をお出しします。
 活きたままカラアゲに…。
 西瓜と紅タデのソースを新作として発表しました。

(Copied from the NEWS page of the site)
First, baby ayu From Lake Biwa have started to come in.
At Ryugin, we offer baby ayu for only one month, until natural ayu become available, starting on June 1.
"Kara age"ed alive...
We have released the new creation, the watermelon and red tade sauce.

#28 prasantrin

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 04:09 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.