Ryugin relocated from its Roppongi headquarters in the middle of 2018, where it had been based since December 2003. It is presently located on the seventh floor of the Midtown Hibaya development in Chiyoda, which is a smart commerce and residential complex with a focus on sustainability. Simply take a lift to the restaurant from the bottom level of the mall, in an elevator where the seventh floor was labeled “restaurant” rather than “Ryugin,” to reach the restaurant from the ground floor. The new dining space, which seats forty diners and is quite stylish, has a wonderful view of the city from many of its tables, thanks to its top-floor placement. Tables are well-spaced and spacious, and they are served by an army of well-trained waiters. There was a little waiting room with a pair of live owls perched on a perch in a glass cage, which was a little frightening to see. These were beautiful animals, however it was a little distressing to see them confined in such a little space. There are other little extras that enhance the overall service experience at the new site; for example, you are provided a choice of chopsticks in boxes, which you may keep as a keepsake if you so like, in addition to the usual menu items. As a token of respect for the magnitude of the bill, when it comes you are supplied with a very grand-looking pen to sign the credit card on the envelope.
At 35,600 (£241), there was a no-choice tasting menu available, and the new Ryugin boasts a significant wine list that does not hold back on the pricing front, with prices beginning at 20,000 (£135) and growing swiftly in price, with very few options below 30,000 (£204). Billecart Salmon NV champagne at 27,000 euros for a bottle that sells for 6,980 euros on the high street, Henschke Mount Edleston Shiraz 2010 at 45,000 euros compared to its retail price of 17,018 euros, and Miani Buro Colli Merlot 2013 at 60,000 euros for a bottle that sells for 29,735 euros on the high street were examples of comparable wines. Wines such as Jacques Selosses Substance, which sold for 105,000 euros against its retail price of 44,022, and Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaise 2006, which sold for 180,000 euros vs its current market value of 98,160, were available for those with the wherewithal to purchase them. Beer, at 900 yen a bottle for Kirin (£6.12), could be a more rational choice at this price.
Turtle soup with a poached egg and what seemed to be rice cake was served as an appetiser, however it was difficult to discern if it was indeed rice cake. Turtle soup is something I’ve tried previously in China, and it used to be considered a delicacy in the United Kingdom. During the eighteenth century, the London Tavern in Bishopsgate used to house live turtles in its enormous cellars, alongside their enormous wine collection, for use in their specialty turtle soup, which was served at the time. Turtle is not very appetizing as a meat to me, as it has a deep flavor that is difficult to describe while also having a tendency to become chewy. With an incredibly rich orange yolk and a pleasant flavor, the egg used in this soup was definitely unique (16/20). A chilly green soy bean soup followed, which had a strong bean flavor and may have been better served heated (15/20).
The abalone and matsutake mushrooms were served with a sauce prepared from abalone liver as the next course. Despite the fact that the mushrooms were excellent and the abalone was delicate, the liver flavor was rather understated but provided an intriguing contrast to the earthiness of the mushrooms (16/20). This was followed by a teapot with amadei or tilefish broth, coupled with a shrimp and hamo or pike eel, among other ingredients. In a little cup on the side, a Japanese citrus fruit called sudachi (which looks like a small lime) was squeezed, and this worked really well with the soup, adding some welcome acidity to the dish. Seaweed pickle was served with condiments such as pickled daikon radish, ginger, shiso, and maize as well as pickled carrots. However, although the amadei had retained its firmness well, the pike eel had become, unfortunately, very mushy throughout the cooking process. The flavors were excellent, but I am not persuaded that fish tastes better after it has been resting in a soup, despite the fact that this is a typical practice in kaiseki cuisine (16/20).
The sea urchin from Hokkaido, which was served on top of aubergine (17/20), was of great quality. A little time later, we were brought our main course, which was a charcoal-grilled bonito that was presented simply with a pinch of salt and had an absolutely fantastic flavor (19/20). Sea perch was also roasted over charcoal and served with karusami, which was a type of home-made bottarga produced from salted and sun-dried mullet roe. The perch was outstanding, having been well prepared and having acquired a delightful smokey flavor note from the charcoal grill (18 out of 20 points).
A matsutake mushroom garnished somen, which were extremely thin noodles that had been matured for three years and served with shiitake mushrooms, dried scallops and prawns, as well as a garnish of shiitake mushrooms. This was enjoyable, with the noodles having a pleasing texture and the mushrooms having a lot of flavor (16/20). Venison was the last savoury item before the meal’s customary rice portion. It was a delicious dish. This deer originated from Furano, on the island of Hokkaido, and it was served in substantial portions. A slow-cooked chicken breast was served with wasabi and soy sauce, along with a rather insipid side of roasted peanuts. Despite the fact that the venison was flavorful, the texture seemed a little strange. Despite the fact that it was not chewy in the least, it needed more chewing than I would have anticipated from top-quality venison (16/20). Deep-fried snapper with ponzu sauce was available as a pescatarian option, which I really liked (17/20). Rice and pickles are often served at the end of a kaiseki dinner to round out the savory portion. Some Pacific fish was added to the rice to make it more interesting. There was also miso with tofu in the form of a chrysanthemum flower and pickles made from radish, coriander, and wild rice, as well as a variety of other dishes.
There were two types of sweets available. The first course consisted of a black fig with sudachi ice cream and a sprinkle of refined sugar on top. This dish had a pleasant flavor, and the acidity of the sudachi countered the sweetness of sugar (17/20). The last dessert consisted of what seemed to be a biscuit filled with warm sweet red bean paste and presented in a beautiful box. There were fish scales on the exterior of this, and the waffle batter gave it a wonderful texture. The red bean paste was unexpectedly nice, considering that it is something I generally detest. This is the Ryugin version of a traditional Japanese dessert known as taiyaki, which is named after the Japanese red bream, or “Tai,” since Yuki is Japanese for “baked.” It is said that the meal was invented by Seijiro Kanbei in 1909 at a business in Azabajuban named Naniwa Souhonten, with the reason behind it being that red bream is considered fortunate. This rendition of the dish transformed my perception of red bean paste as something to be endured rather than something to be enjoyed (18/20), much as the abalone during my very first dinner at Ryugin a decade ago was a revelation to me (see my previous post for more information).
The service was silky smooth, with the servers speaking excellent English and being very attentive throughout the evening. It cost £11,540 for two people (£782), including the tasting menu, a bottle of champagne (£183) and water (£2), plus service at 10%. That works out to £391 for each of the two of us. This was an extremely costly evening by any measure. We split a bottle of wine that was one of the more affordable options on the menu, so your bill could well be higher, and even if you just drank beer, you would still be looking at paying over £290. I’ve had two earlier dinners at Ryugin at the old location and quite liked them, and I’ve also had excellent meals at Ryugin Hong Kong and most recently at Ryugin Taipei. Although the food today seemed to be somewhat less remarkable than these prior meals, this is concerning considering the exceedingly high price tag. This made me feel a little depressed, particularly when I received the bill. Despite the fact that it is still wonderful cuisine, I found this dinner to be a significant step down in quality from my prior trips, especially when taking into consideration the value for money component.
Cuisine Type: Japanese
Address: 1-1-2 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-0006, Japan
Phone: +81 3-6630-0007
Website: Ryugin Official Site
Hours: Closed: lunch : Monday-Sunday
Michelin Stars: 3