Tokyo, June 2010 – By chance and perseverance, we were able to get a last minute reservation at Nihonyori RyuGin. We felt extremely fortunate – since it was one of the most unforgettable meals in Tokyo for us. When we visited RyuGin, it was ranked #48 in World’s Best Restaurants list 2010 – no small feat.
Opened in 2003, RyuGin’s Chef Seiji Yamamoto brought kaiseki (multiple courses of small dishes using seasonal ingredients, originating from Kyoto) to a new level, with use of modern techniques while retaining a sense of tradition in his cuisine. It was kaiseki at its finest with the freshest ingredients and artistic innovation.
The most memorable courses for us were also Chef Yamamoto’s signature dishes. One was the Swimming Ayu fishes. The grilled ayu fishes were brought to our table on a charcoal burner adorned with bamboo leaves. The presentation was gorgeous; then came the “river” in the form of raked salt on rustic rectangular stone pottery.
The server diligently placed two delicate fishes into the river, and drizzled beni-tade sauce (a concoction using red water pepper) on the side. The dish came alive! It resembled two fishes swimming in a stream. I felt it was quite zen-like and very poetic!
Mr. King and I were in awe when the dessert arrived in the form of a crystallized apple. In fact, it is called “196 Degree Celsius Candied Apple”. The inside was cold apple powdered sorbet. Since we were not exposed to much molecular gastronomy at the time, we were blown away by the technique in the preparation of this dessert and the unique and beautiful appearance.
Whenever my friends ask for Tokyo restaurants recommendations, RyuGin is at the top of my list!
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.