[Hong Kong] Nihonryori RyuGin at Tokyo, Japan was one of the best, best, best, dining experiences I ever had.
Almost every dish was exceptional, stylishly executed, a Japanese kaiseki meal full of surprises.
However, it did take me a while to finally decide to dine at Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong, Nihonryori RyuGin’s first and only overseas outpost.
There is an inner voice that would pre-judge, “It won’t be as good…” but I went ahead because I liked it adequately. After I have saved up enough anyway.
The Hong Kong satellite restaurant is headed by Chef De Cuisine Hideaki Sato, with its seasonal menu overseen by founder Chef Seiji Yamamato himself.
A match to the restaurant’s name which means “singing dragon”, Tenky RyuGin is aptly located at one of Hong Kong’s most known skyscraper, high up on Level 101 on the Kowloon ICC Tower.
The process of getting up, the amount of gold-decorated furnishing and design outside, the professional service rendered, could give you a glance to Hong Kong’s rich and famous.
A 10-course kaiseki meal Tasting Menu is priced at HKD$2,180 (SGD$387, USD$280.70) without service charge.
For comparison, the meal at Tokyo’s main RyuGin is well… 27,000 Yen (SGD$327, USD$237.50). A reflection of the times and currency fluctuations.
RyuGin’s philosophy is for diners to “taste the blessing of the seasons”, and thus it is not surprising to get quality seasonal ingredients that exist all over Japan on a single plate.
There were some standouts, such as the Deep Fried Sea Urchin from Hokkaido wrapped in seafood, presented on two charcoal sticks.
Technically, this starter seemed challenging to execute. The outer layer tasted lightly crisp and battered, little trace of oil or what so ever. This enveloped the treasure within, and biting further would result in a burst of golden, velvety creamy uni which lingered deliciously.
Its Sashimi platter was also presented with each slice in a mini-dish, distinctly differently and impeccably complemented – Hirame Flouder with wasabi, Squid with marinated seaweed, Scallop from Hokkaido, Clam from Hokkaido torched and served with seasalt, Spanish Mackerel marinated in soy sauce.
THE RyuGin highlight was the dessert, with components of -196 and +99 degree Celsius within the same plate, that would enter your mouth at the same time. The fruit used varies.
Without me explaining further yet, try imagining that sensation.
The mastery behind this was incredible. Firstly, the speciality was presented like a mini-apple, comprised of paper-thin covering.
You would knock the fruit apart with spoon to reveal the encased super cold apple powdery dessert. After which, a 99 degree Celcius hot apple jam would be poured over.
Now, the comparison. I think Tenku RyuGin did offer a pleasing Kaiseki meal, some surprises with a view to match, especially when I got that window seat.
One major difference was the speed in which food was served. This is probably cultural.
The meal in Roppongi Tokyo took close to 4 hours, I remembered as it was nearing midnight upon leaving.
In comparison, you could possibly finish this meal in Hong Kong in just above 2-hours. (I also noticed a couple coming about the same time, but completing the course earlier than me.)
While the staff in Hong Kong was competent and professional, the explanation was hurried, “This is …. from there….” Without further going into the significance of the region.
The Japan restaurant was stronger in their story-telling. For example, “This fish is from… because the waters there are… And this fish only breeds well there…. And is matched with this sauce from … because … Chef was inspired by…”
The understanding would go beyond the surface, and provided a deeper appreciation of each of Ryugin’s masterpiece.
101st, ICC International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2302 0222
Opening Hours: 6pm – 9:30pm (LO) Dinner, Lunch only for private events
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