NIHONRYORI RYUGIN 龍吟: Japanese Kaiseki, Tokyo – Great Service, but Expected More in the Cuisine for Three Michelin Stars (+video)

Dining date: July 24, 2013

Dining occasion: Dinner, Chef’s Tasting Menu (23,100 +10% Japanese Yen)

See the Eater’s Highlights:

  • Three Michelin Stars, #22 on the 2013 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna
  • Located in an alley of Roppongi that was not too difficult to find. Another location is in Hong Kong at the International Commerce Center (ICC). My waitress also indicated that the Taipei location is expected to be opened towards the end of 2014.
  • I had to see for myself what the hype of the place was since many diners made a reservation two months in advance.
  • No menu to choose from, you are served based on their seasonal/daily selections. They are able to cater to special dietary restrictions, though.
  • The service was great, as expected in any high end restaurant. The food was creative and good, but not amazing compared to other Three Michelin Star restaurants. It was a modern and innovative twist on Japanese ingredients served in a French manner.
  • Seemed like a high end tourist dining destination with most diners being non-Japanese. Our French waitress spoke English and Japanese fluently, so there was no communication problems.

The Details: I saw a lot of hype with RyuGin all over the internet for its Japanese kaiseki, so I had to go see for myself. Although I read some diners made their reservation very early into months before, I was lucky enough to secure a 9:45 PM (6:00 PM is the other time for reservations, which was not available) reservation just about two to three weeks prior to my arrival in Tokyo. Upon arrival, the hostess took our shopping bags and jackets to be stored and led us to the main dining room that seats 24 guests. The restaurant is not a bar setting, like some other kaseki restaurants, but had individual tables for 2 or 4 guests.

RyuGin Exterior, Entrance

RyuGin Exterior, Entrance

RyuGin Entrance

RyuGin Entrance

Table Setting

Table Setting

Menu for the night

Menu for the night

I liked how the take home menu was provided in the beginning of the meal, so I knew what I was eating throughout the meal. At the same time, I had greater anticipation of what was coming next as well.

RyuGin's Green Tea, looks like wine!

RyuGin’s Green Tea, looks like wine!

Grilled corn small egg custard with fresh sea urchins and fragrance of 3 varieties of onions

Grilled corn small egg custard with fresh sea urchins and fragrance of 3 varieties of onions

Seasonal vegetables with pine nuts dressing array of flavors and textures in one plate...

Seasonal vegetables with pine nuts dressing array of flavors and textures in one plate…

Winter melon soup with yam julienne and cold shabu-shabu beef

Winter melon soup with yam julienne and cold shabu-shabu beef

Winter melon soup with yam julienne and cold shabu-shabu beef

Winter melon soup with yam julienne and cold shabu-shabu beef

Ichiban dashi soup...Pike eel with egg plant stuffed inside in summer presentation

Ichiban dashi soup…Pike eel with egg plant stuffed inside in summer presentation

I liked the soup, it was very light and refreshing.

Today's array of ocean's delicacy (basically sashimi) RyuGin Style

Today’s array of ocean’s delicacy (basically sashimi)
RyuGin Style

Fried fish substitution for my companion that did not eat raw fish

Fried fish substitution for my companion that did not eat raw fish

RyuGin's famous summer dish Swimming ayu fish grilled over charcoal with bamboo aroma

RyuGin’s famous summer dish
Swimming ayu fish grilled over charcoal with bamboo aroma

RyuGin's famous summer dish Swimming ayu fish grilled over charcoal with bamboo aroma

RyuGin’s famous summer dish
Swimming ayu fish grilled over charcoal with bamboo aroma

Watch it in action: Click here if the video does not load. (Follow see_lim on Instagram)

Personally, I liked the ayu fish at Kojyu 銀座小十 more because it was crispier and less salty. Regardless, the ayu fish here was still fresh and had a very cool presentation.

Marinated pear as a palate cleanser

Marinated pear as a palate cleanser

Simmered preparation in luxurious presentation Shrimp ball, soft simmered octopus, simmered abalone

Simmered preparation in luxurious presentation
Shrimp ball, soft simmered octopus, simmered abalone

This octopus and abalone were cooked to a great chewy texture.

Pork neck grilled on charcoal and straw smoked with wild honey soy sauce and mustard Early ginko nuts rice and red miso soup

Pork neck grilled on charcoal and straw smoked with wild honey soy sauce and mustard
Early ginko nuts rice and red miso soup

This was by far the best course of the meal. The pork neck was very tender and the sweet sauce went very well with the Japanese mustard. Definitely a great dish to go with rice.

“Trick”? Grape

The waitress asked me to eat the lighter colored, peeled grape towards the back of the photo. It was a nice cold regular grape. Then for the second grape….watch the following video: Click here if the video does not load. (Follow see_lim on Instagram)

After I cracked open the frozen grape, I revealed the popping rocks candy in it. Our waitress then put some berry sauce on top. Overall this was a fun dish, but the taste was average.

“Hot Sake” and “Cold Sake”

I really liked this dessert, a sake flavored ice cream and sake flavored souffle. They were both very fragrant with sake flavor.

Matcha

Matcha

Finally, as we were leaving, the restaurant called a taxi for us. Chef Seiji Yamamoto and our waitress came outside, thanked us for dining that night and sent us off while bowing down as our taxi drove away. A very Japanese touch of high quality service.

There is a lot of attention to detail at this restaurant, which can be seen from the tableware used and the execution of the dishes. RyuGin definitely has great service, but the food was not amazing for three Michelin stars. I would recommend Kojyu 銀座小十, another three Michelin kaiseki, if you are seeking a more authentic Japanese dining experience. RyuGin has a big name, with another outpost in Hong Kong and another one opening in Taipei in 2014.

Nihonryori RyuGin 龍吟 http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/index_en.html

Address: Side Roppongi Bldg, 1st Floor 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032 Phone: +81-3-3423-8006