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Bu Pun Su

Koryu Osaka

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Osaka was not really in my radar for the Japan’s trip. The main reason, at the end, we went there was because it’s Japan’s famous (metropolitan) city and it’s near Kyoto (less than 20 min. by Shinkanzen). I was not too familiar with any upscale dining here except I’ve heard Hajime and Kahala. But then, I visited Japan mainly to eat “Nihon ryori”. Given its omakase price and Michelin 3-star award it received, I decided that Koryu could be the place I was looking for. The restaurant’s exterior was chic in black and red; the inside was indeed modern with some calligraphy hanging on the wall and foreign music heard in the background. The restaurant bar can sit up to 12 people and it’s nearly full during our dinner. We’re seated quite close to the grill area of the kitchen. Like in many other Japanese restaurants, there’s only omakase menu available.

After a great beginning with the first course (creamy Shirako with aromatic Matsutake in refreshing Sudachi broth), I know that we’re in good hand and this restaurant would not disappoint. There were a few dishes I liked a lot:

- Sashimi was beautifully presented on a lacquered box with the spirit of autumn decoration. My favorite was Aburi Otoro (soft and delicious); the raw version of Otoro was also very good. The squid and sea bream were high qualities, can easily be compared to the materials at top sushi restaurants. The ‘cooked items’, while looked interesting, my palate did not really fancy them especially the sauce (Mackerel served with seaweed sauce and Rosy seabass came with plum sauce)

- Grilled Shiitake mushroom, might look simple, was prepared perfectly producing delicious and earthy dish with deep flavor. The miso sauce was intense

- The best dish of the night was slowly (charcoal) grilled steak of Miyazaki beef. This wagyu was slightly charred outside, but moist and juicy inside. It’s very flavorful since the beef was “marinated” in walnut sauce before being served. Excellent!

Once again, I was not too impressed with the rice dish here (and at many other kaiseki restaurants I ate in Japan). Koryu served porridge instead of steamed rice accompanied by pickles, snapper miso and smoked radish. It was not bad, but I expected/preferred something more elaborate and sophisticated.

The service was genuine and attentive; staffs worked very hard to make us and other diners feel comfortable and answer any of the guests’ questions despite their limited English (there was another group of 5 from Thailand during the 2nd seating). They also diligently replaced our hot ocha. Overall, it’s a very pleasant meal. Chef Matsuo was talented and able to produce flavorful, interesting and balanced dishes; the cooking method was great using mainly high quality local ingredients. Another fantastic part was the price – I believe this place has the best value of money among elite kaiseki restaurants in the entire Japan. I’m not sure whether all of Osaka’s high end places charged reasonably like in Koryu. My experience here overall is worth about 94/100 (a strong 2 ½*; I don’t really mind Michelin giving this place 3-star actually though not as solid as Ishikawa, at least at the same level as my meal at Ryugin HK). You can click the link below for the pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/KoryuOsakaJapan

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