Tokyo, Uncategorized

Patisseries and Misc, Tokyo

To round off my trips with a pictorial of sweet things that I ate

Pierre Herme’s Mogador macaron (Passionfruit)

Pierre Herme’s pistache macaron

Can’t believe I’ve never had the infamous ispahan until Tokyo, this is the most balanced macaron I’ve ever had in terms of flavor, pity the buttercream filling was a little too cold

Henri Charpentier strawberry cake. Sponge was very soft and fluffy

Henri Charpentier Strawberry and pistacho macaron. Both terrible

Henri Charpentier double baked financier. The regular financier was delicious but I didn’t take a photo

Yokohama Francais green tea Mille Feuille. The (cute) girl at Henri charpentier(that’s not why I bought so many items from Henri) recommended this to me, it did not disappoint. Each layer of the mille feuille was distinct and unbelievably crisp, the green tea flavor was assertive

 

 

Jean Paul Hevin’s dark chocolate ganache and chocolate macaron. A friend of mine used to work at JPH and she bought these for me, insisting that I have to try their macaron. The buttercream had an amazing texture, almost like a whipped chocolate custard, not dense at all.

Green tea biscuits, these were from Kyoto

Kyo Hayashiya’s green tea parfait. I dont think this was for one person, but I did my best

This isn’t a sweet dish, but this fried chicken became a standard snack after stumbling out of bars at 2am in Sancha. Readily available at all convenience stores, it was oily, spicy, piping hot,  all the pre-requisites for drunk food

More convenience store food, onigiri with a liquid yolk? Japan is amazing

The last dish is from a Kushiyage or Kushikatsu bar in Sancha, the one I frequented the most when I was there. It is basically a tiny bar, run by one guy, that serves breaded and deep fried everything- cheese, asparagus and ham, okra(lady’s finger) and loads more; one thing that they didn’t have was a sweet dish, so our group(a Singaporean, American and Canadian) decided to bring our Gaijin ideas to this place. We popped into the nearest convenience store and bought 2 Mars bars, instructing the bar owner to freeze and fry it. These tiny nuggets were passed around the bar, hilarity and amusement ensued, everyone loved it, although this might have something to do with the fact that everyone was drunk.

Tokyo

Daisan Harumi, Tokyo


Daisan Harumi

The last post of my Japan trip(finally) is at Daisan Harumi.  I was introduced to the restaurant by Asomaniac of the chowhound forums, whom I met during my meal at akasaka kikunoi. Daisan has a very reasonable weekend set menu priced at 7000yen for both lunch and dinner. What makes daisan Harumi so special is that it ranks higher on tabelog(the Japanese equivalent of hungrygowhere/yelp/openrice) than a lot of Michelin starred sushi establishments, including the infamous Sukiyabashi Jiro (although Jiro isn’t very highly rated on Tabelog).

Aori Ika

One thing you’ll quickly learn about the restaurant, is that chef Nagayana Kazuo is obsessed with sushi; he is considered a sushi expert in Japan and has written one of the most informative sushi books I’ve laid my hands on, going into the explanation of the philosophy behind sushi, the proper etiquette to enjoy sushi, he then goes on to talk about the different kinds of sushi served during each season(of course, fish and therefore sushi is very seasonal). If that isn’t an attestation to his love for sushi and attention to detail, how about the fact that he harvests his own seaweed? In fact, it is so sought after that there is a 2 year wait list for this nori.

Tairagai (Pen Shell)

Besides being a full time sushi master, he also dabbles in caligraphy and pottery. Most of the serving dishes are served on plates made by the chef himself. All this sounds fine and dandy, and you might be wondering at this point, why doesn’t he have any stars then? The answer becomes evident the moment you step into the restaurant. From the strange looking lizard clock hanging on the wall, with it’s tail wagging back and forth as each second passes, right down to the plates made by the chef himself, remember those? I might have forgotten to mention that they are incredibly ugly. This collection of items, combined together with the decor, look so out of place in the restaurant.

Maguro (Lean tuna)


Chutoro (Medium fatty tuna)

But I digress, what about the food? I tend not to trust sites like tabelog, I find hungrygowhere to be a very rough guide and overall, pretty inaccurate, so I was skeptical to say the least. But the sushi turned out to be good, my only other ‘proper’ sushi experience was  at sushi Kanesaka, so I will compare against it as a rough gauge- I’d say the sushi was pretty on par, if not slightly better than Kanesaka, I did prefer the uni at Kanesaka, but I preferred the tamago at Daisan- it was more like a very soft, moist omelette, than a cake-like texture at Kanesaka. Other standouts for me were the hamaguri, ikura, kuruma ebi, abalone, and gizzard shard. It should be noted that I topped up an additional 3000yen to get an additional 4-5 more pieces of sushi, and the Uni was part of this addition. So all the photos of sushi you see came up to 10,000yen.

Tamago

Abalone

Kohada (Gizzard Shad)

At 7000yen, the set menu is of incredible value, it’s hard to get the quality of sushi that you get at Daisan Harumi for a lower price. Even the finer details of Daisan start to grow on you after a while(except the god awful plates, those are unforgivable) as you begin to grow comfortable with the eccentric personality of the place, you stare at that annoying lizard clock and it slowly begins to amuse you, you enjoy the lack of servers waiting around you, it makes you feel more at ease, most of the customers are kicking back, enjoying the sushi with a glass of beer, the sushi chef doesn’t wipe the serving plate after each sushi is served, and no one seems to be bothered at all. It’s a fuss free environment, because everyone at the restaurant is here for the sushi and the sushi alone. I would strongly recommend daisan to anyone visiting Japan, go for the set weekend meal, and budget an additional 2000yen to buy his incredible book.

 That damn clock, I want one now

 


Kuruma Ebi

Grilled ebi heads


Ikura

Hamaguri

Uni



Anago

Tuna Roll

Tokyo

Blacows, Tokyo

My last burger stop in Tokyo was easily the one I had been looking forward to the most during the entire trip. With only one location in the Daikanyama district, Blacows serves a more ‘gourmet’ burger, proudly touting premium ingredients such as 100% black wagyu beef, and buns from maison kayser. Their burgers aren’t exactly cheap either, easily the most expensive of the three burger joints I visited,  ranging from about 1000Yen for the most basic hamburger, up to 2450Yen for gigantic meat party burgers.

Blacows Ultimate meat burger: Patty, Wagyu roast beef, bacon, proscuitto, gravy sauce, original bbq sauce

I’m going to say right off the bat that I made the wrong choice of burger. Every component in the burger was spot on, the patty was flavorful and moist, the roast beef was perfectly cooked, still pink in the center, the bun did not disappoint, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, although I’d say it was slightly below par compared to great burger; its a shame that the one issue I had with the burger was that the proscuitto overpowered the flavor of the beef.

It was a heavy, heavy burger, the kind that I like, but halfway through your burger, all you taste is the proscuitto and bbq sauce. It was only after removing the proscuitto that I could appreciate the individual flavors of the burger, and they came together alot better. The chips/fries were nicely cooked, not as crisp as baker bounce, but they were good fries, definitely not an afterthought garnish to the burger.

The high quality of burgers at blacows is evident, the philosophy is simple- quality ingredients lead to a quality burger. Just from visiting their website, where they tout the breakdown of each burger proudly, you can tell that this is a place that cares a lot about produce. 1000Y for a basic hamburger is a lot to pay, if you have cash to spend, then by all means, visit Blacows, but I should make it clear that the standard of cheaper options like Baker bounce and Great burger are not that far off. Very good

Tokyo

Baker bounce, Tokyo

Baker Bounce was my 2nd (out of 3) stops of my burger tour in Japan, Baker bounce has 2 locations in Tokyo, one in Sangenjaya, which I went to, and one in Tokyo Midtown, near Roppongi station. The menu is quite extensive, including non-burger related items, but I was there for one thing and one thing only

Egg bacon burger lunch combo

Some, maybe even many, will disagree with me when I say that a fried egg in a burger only serves to make it better. I don’t see how yolk dripping down your fingers and the sides of your hands, moistening every bite, making the burger even richer couldn’t possibly elevate a burger. Baker bounce definitely knows this, they serve 2 fried eggs, whites perfectly cooked with some browning, yolks still liquid, atop an open faced bun. For some reason that I can’t fathom, all the burgers I had in Tokyo were served open faced, and you had to ‘build’ the burger yourself, by ‘build’, I really mean put the buns together and slip it into  a piece of waxed paper. Its almost like they’re trying to tease you- all you want to do it sink your teeth into the burger the moment they put it in front of you, but no, you have to work for it, you have to slap an empty bun onto the filling, you have to pull out a piece of wax paper, then gently try to caress the burger, which is obviously too big to fit into that damned piece of paper, inching it closer and closer to the edge, till it slips in, and you feel like you have accomplished something tremendous, the reward for your hard work right in your hands. But I digress, the burger at bakers bounce, is good. The meat takes a much more prominent role in this burger compared to great burger, the tomato and homemade tartar sauce shine through, but the vegetables get overpowered by the beef patty and the bacon(this is not a bad thing), the bun falls a little short compared to great burger, although the one at great burger was pretty…. great…. I would rate this higher than the burger I had at Great burger, this just felt a little more.. Manly and satisfying. Two words I never thought I’d put together in the same sentence.

The real surprise for me was the potato wedges, shatteringly crisp on the outside, well seasoned, lots of nutty browned flavor. I’d go as far as to say that, while they are not in the same league as Heston’s triple cooked chips, they are not that far off either. Overall, this place is definitely worth a visit, more so than great burger, although great burger has a much nicer space and overall a place you would want to spend the afternoon in, Baker bounce, not so much. Good-Very good

Tokyo

Hidemi Sugino, Tokyo

I’m not a dessert person, I think I’ve mentioned that several times in this blog, but if I were to go to Tokyo without visiting legendary pastry chef Hidemi Sugino, a couple of my friends would probably feel the need to object violently. Why exactly do people speak so fondly of him? His claim to fame would be that he was the first Asian to win the La Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, the world cup of pastry, back in 1991, I would have gladly cheered him on with a Vuvuzela, but alas, I was only a kid back then.

I made a trip to Hidemi first on a weekday afternoon, at 3+pm, the shop was empty, as was the display case- they had sold out for the day. I almost contemplated giving up on trying Hidemi, but I decided to squeeze in a quick bite before lunch the next day. This time I got in at around 11am, again on a weekday. There were about 3-4 people in front of me, but an ample selection of cakes still available.

I’m going to summarize my experience at Hidemi in the introduction- you have to go to Hidemi if you’re in Tokyo. It is probably the most popular pastry shop in Tokyo for the last few years, and it is one of those places that exists only in Tokyo, unlike other patisseries. Go early, even if there is a queue, you won’t have to wait long. Some cakes are eat in only, and some are take out only, so go as a group and you’ll get to try more cakes, then buy more cakes to take away, there were about 18-20 choices of cakes in total when I was there.

Ambroisie アンブロワジー 

Hidemi’s most famous dessert, and also the one that won him the pastry world cup in 1991, a breakdown of this consists of: chocolate glaze, chocolate mousse, pistachio sponge, pistachio mousse, raspberry jam, chocolate sponge. You can get a lot more info(as well as attempt to make the cake) from LPV. Hidemi is well known for his mousse, and the mousse components did not disappoint, very pure, very rich, released intense chocolate flavors immediately upon melting on the tongue. Unfortunately, I found the cake to be overall a little too rich, the chocolate was of incredible quality, but I felt that it needed more of the raspberry jam to cut some of that rich sweetness, I know many will disagree with me on this. Don’t get me wrong, its a good cake, its just too rich for me, that being said, the mousse was spectacular, and you should definitely order this if you are ever at Hidemi and decide for yourself. Okay-good

(I was stopped from taking pics after the first shot, excuse the crappy iPhone picture)



Belle Jardiniere

I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle 2 mousse cakes by myself, so I opted for a tart as my second choice. I believe this is a berry tart with a whipped cream quenelle on top. This might be blasphemy to some people but I found the tart to be better than his ambroisie, the balance was spot on, sweetness of the pastry cream balanced out by the tartness of the fruits(Doesnt Japan have the best fruits?), the tart itself was perfect, crisp on the outside, buttery on the inside. The quenelle of whipped cream, which I am normally not crazy about, was very light and added a touch of richness to the overall mouthfeel when eating the tart. This just seemed to me to be more balanced than the ambroisie. Good-Very good

Tokyo

Sant Pau, Tokyo (**)

The last of my fine dining meals in Tokyo brought me to Sant Pau, a second branch of the original Spanish restaurant with the same name, helmed by Carme Ruscalleda. Closest to Nihonbashi station, the restaurant has a sleek exterior(and a difficult to find entrance), and a grand interior, probably the nicest dining room out of all the restaurants I went to in Tokyo.

Champagne made specially for Carme Ruscalleda to start off the meal. Beautiful plates

Shiso and chicken consommé
A combination that I would not have thought of myself- when I think of shiso I tend to associate it with seafood, but the combination worked. The soup was very clean tasting, no eggy aftertaste that can be imparted from the egg used in clarifying consommé, chicken flavor was strong, shiso was aromatic. Soup was perfectly seasoned. Good


Amuse platter

Faux egg: milk jelly covering a carrot puree, celeriac, tomato, red pepper
I don’t know how this was made, but this was an exact replica of a soft poached egg, the texture was exactly like a soft poached egg, and strangely enough, the taste was exactly like one too, you could eat this without actually knowing it wasn’t an egg. It’s like giant mindfuck on a plate. The red pepper did not have the same texture as chorizo, but it did have a good amount of spice and heat. Good

Martini made of pesto and courgette
I think this is a spherified ball of pesto, a little too pungent for me even when washed down with the courgette(zucchini) liquid. Okay

Faux dressed radish made of macadamia nut, marsh, raspberry.
Beautifully made, very realistic. Crunch from the macadamia added another depth of realism to match the crunch you get when you bite into a fresh radish. The tartness of the raspberry gelee made it surprisingly refreshing. Okay-Good

Croquette made of rice and vegetables
Hearty, good flavors, well seasoned. Okay

Akaza ebi, parsley sauce, parsley sauce, snow peas, ‘apiose’ vegetables, jelly of shrimp juice
We spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure out an english translation for ‘apiose’ before giving up. It tasted like a milder tasting version of sweet potato, but it had a better texture. The lobster was perfectly seasoned, but nothing on the plate really served to elevate it’s flavor or challenge it; I think the parsley sauce could’ve been stronger/more pungent, the ebi certainly had enough flavor to stand up to it. Okay-good

Scorpion fish, green papaya, tomato basil sauce
I loved the inclusion of green papaya, it brought a freshness and crunch to the dish that was quite unexpected. The texture of the fish was bad, overcooked and somewhat dry, the saving grace was the incredible tomato basil sauce, it was smooth, very intense flavor, and worked well with the papaya, saving an otherwise bad dish. Okay


Iberian pork shoulder, onion sauce, tempura ‘sale/saro’
The pork was perfectly cooked for me, but might have been a little under for some people. Large grains of salt sprinkled on the pork released bursts of flavor as you chewed through the shoulder, and the robust flavor of the pork just kept releasing as you chewed without signs of wearing thin, the tempura sale/saro? was a perfect contrast to the meatiness of the pork, while the flavor of the herb was strong enough to hold up to the pork. Definitely one of the better pork dishes I’ve had, really showcased the quality and flavor or Iberico pork. V good

Cleanser: Pineapple sorbet, raspberry juice
Good balance of sourness and sweetness, very necessary as the flavor of the pork was still lingering on the tongue. Okay

Strawberry, blood orange, nori
Blood orange yoghurt and strawberry yoghurt under the jelly. There was a sponge layer, but i felt that a biscuit base would have been better for more textural contrast. The addition of nori was what made the dish for me, although it didnt seem like there was much on the plate, the flavor was very glaring in the dish. It sort of made u stop and think about the flavors, I can’t say that the flavors work very well together, but this is the sort of dish that reminds me of my meal at el bulli, you really have to stop and think about what the food you’re eating is doing and how the flavors all comes together, 2 out of 3 at the table liked the inclusion of nori in the dessert. Good

Petits: Too lazy to list them all

These days, its hard to think of high end Spanish cuisine without drawing an immediate comparison to molecular gastronomy(or molecular/modern cuisine, whatever you want to call it), Sant Pau offers glimpses of that without actually falling into that stereotype. The amuse bouches were incredibly playful and thought provoking; although the petits were not as playful, they were also incredibly fun to eat. The core of the meal showcased more traditional cooking, with glimpses of inventiveness(pairing of nori and strawberry/orange). Although the execution wasn’t as solid as the concept of some dishes,  all in all, it was an enjoyable,  well balanced meal that offered quite a lot. That isn’t to say that there isn’t strong competition in Tokyo- there is such a wide array of choices for western cuisine with Japanese influence, while it is easy to overlook Sant Pau among the hype surrounding restaurants like Quintessence and Les Creations, it is certainly able to hold its own

Tokyo, Uncategorized

Ryugin, Tokyo (***)

When making reservations for Japan, there were places that I took a long and hard look at, trying to figure out how badly I wanted to dine at those restaurants, Ryugin was not one of them, it was the first and only place I made a reservation at and never looked back. Ryugin is regarded as one of, if not, the best Kaiseki restaurant in Tokyo. Head chef Seiji Yamamoto has mingled with big league chefs like Aduriz of Mugaritz, and his restaurant was geared primarily towards a very modernist take on Kaiseki cuisine, before a recent shift towards traditional food in recent years. It recently earned its third michelin star last December, which they were clearly very proud about, the Michelin man displayed the moment you enter the restaurant, it is currently ranked 28th in the world, down 8 from the time I visited Ryugin.


(Hot) Charcoal grilled Horse clam and Icefish with plum flavor

Horse clam was nicely grilled, dusted with a spicy powder. Icefish was cooked in a tempura style, and the batter was infused with a plum flavor. The plum was quite faint, more of an aroma than a flavor, but the batter was good, thin but crisp. Clam was incredibly juicy and sweet, and the spiciness from the clam was a wonderful touch, spiciness seemed to be a flavor profile that has been missing a most of the high end Japanese restaurants I had dined at so far, so it was a refreshing change. The smokiness from the charcoal balanced out the sweetness from the clam beautifully. Good

             

(hot)/(cold) Assortment of spring vegetables in one plate with simmered abalone

Abalone simmered for 8 hours, what struck me immediately was that the abalone was slightly bland, the braise had pulled out alot of it’s flavor, but its texture was stellar- very soft, almost falling apart. Thankfully, the abalone flavor was reintroduced in the form of the stock it was cooked it, very intense briny-sweet abalone flavor. The component that stood out the most for me was the corn, lightly grilled with a soft char, unbelievable crunch, intense sweet flavor. the vegetables were sitting in a sudachi-soy sauce. Okay


(cold)/(hot) White asparagus with corn and tofu dressing. Fresh sea urchin with lace wrapping, deep fried

Grilled white asparagus with corn-tofu sauce topped with kombu, uni wrapped in shiso leaf, then wrapped in rice paper and deep fried. The asparagus with the corn tofu was superb, probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. The sauce had an amazing texture, the tofu lent it body and creaminess, and the corn was earthy, very clean, sharp flavors, very sweet, and somehow the flavor of the tofu didnt dilute the flavor of the corn at all, and the sauce complimented the crunch of the asparagus beautifully. Superb
The uni, which I usually love, was surprisingly a little bland, I think I’ve never had uni cooked before, and cooking it seemed to take away from that intense briny flavor that I associate with it, saving grace was that it was nicely fried, the rice paper shell was crisp and yielded quickly. Good


(hot) Ichiban dashi soup with Greenling fish and fried tofu

The fish was expertly poached, soft and supple, flaked apart upon contact with the back of your spoon. The tofu had an interesting texture, it wasnt as brittle as regular tofu, and it had more bite, an almost chewy consistency. The broth was subtle, and it felt as though there was a intricate and delicate balance of flavors. The dish felt very traditional, something that dashi connessiors would be satisfied with, yet some of that subtlety was a little lost on me. Okay


(Cold) Daily assortment of sashimi RyuGin style

While this is such a beautiful plate of food, my notes on the dish are a little hard to read, but I will list out what I have:
Squid with salt and red shiso, sudachi lime
Very strong flavor, better than the one I had at Sushi Kanesaka. Good
Tai marinated with soy, Sakura and stock
Very very chewy. Okay
Cold smoked bonino, ginger, chive, wasabi, condiments were placed into a slit cut into the fish, like a tiny pouch. Good
Dou Miao with squid fin. Okay

(Hot) Egg custard(Chawanmushi) with Hotaru squid from Toyama
The texture of the egg custard, or chawanmushi, was nothing like I’ve ever had. It was so delicate and soft that it was more like a sauce that just hit the point of being set, it melted right down the moment it hit the warmth of your mouth, unbelievable. The sauce was dashi thickened with starch, which give it a subtle flavor. Peas also had a great texture, they seemed to ‘pop’ when you bit into them, which meant a brilliant contrast to the super soft chawanmushi. The squid had a nice char to it, but I found the flavor of the Hotaru squid to be a little too pungent and aggressive. Very good


(Hot) Sea perch with crisp rice

Chef Yamamoto ensures crunch on this fish dish by adding what he calls a “second skin” of toasted rice kernels. Before grilling the fillets, he brushes them with egg white and presses the toasted rice onto the skin. As the fish cooks, its oils coat the kernels and crust is formed. This two-step approach to grilling the fish helps to ensure ensure juicy flesh: He skewers the fish and partially cooks it over hot charcoal, then leaves the fish to rest briefly on a warm shelf before grilling a second time. He then finishes the fish by spraying the entire surface with a fine mist of black vinegar, soy sauce and mirin. So you have the basic flavor profile of sushi: rice, fish, vinegar, mirin. The rice forms a beautiful crisp crust around the fish, and protects it from the harsh direct heat. The result is a perfectly cooked piece of fish, with a rice cracker shell flavored with vinegar and fish juices  around it. Delicious. It is served with sautéed broad bean and pureed abalone liver, which was not as pungent as I thought it would be, and  shiitake and cucumber with goma sauce(very creamy) topped with a glazed walnut with sansho pepper. Intelligent, perfectly executed. Superb

 

(hot) Kuroge Wagyu beef sirloin in sukiyaki sauce, with crispy poached egg
A poached, breaded, then fried egg, similar to a scotch egg without the minced meat component, you cut into the egg and allow the yolk to flow out, mixing it into the beef, reconstituting a beef sukiyaki. The beef looked overcooked but it wasn’t, it was brilliant together with the yolk, which was slightly richer and more viscous than traditional sukiyaki egg(usually dipped raw) because it had been partially cooked. The flavor of the beef and  sweetness of the sukiyaki sauce were not drowned out by the yolk, egg was perfectly cooked, so whimsical and fun. Superb


(hot) Rice simmered in sakura tea, with sakura shrimp. Pickles and shrimp broth red miso soup

Rice cooked in cherry blossom with crisp sakura shrimp. The shrimp was unbelievably sweet and the rice was very aromatic, it was also more fluffy than Im used to, which contrasted the crisp shrimp nicely. Good
Miso soup made from shrimp broth. This had the most complex taste In miso soup I’ve ever tasted. It had the underlying savory taste that you get from the miso, but it also had a deep, rich, satisfying sweetness from the shrimp broth, the two flavors added so much depth of flavor. Incredibly satisfying. Very good


(Cold) Ryugin Original “Homemade Cold Soba Noodle with Aoyuzu Flavor”

This dish was actually not on the menu. At this point of the meal I was asked if I was full, and I was, very. But the mention of having chasoba was too good to pass up, you simply don’t refuse food from a good restaurant. The noodles were fragrant, fragrant enough that you could smell the green tea the moment the noodles hit the table. The texture of the noodles was not too chewy, but still had a good bite t it. The sauce was not too salty and did not overpower the noodles, it just seasoned the noodles lightly and took a step back, letting the natural flavor of the chasoba shine. Good


(cold)(hot) Ryugin’s signature dessert. -196C “Candy strawberry” and 99C Strawberry jam. 

Despite being to El Bulli, who would’ve thought that one of the most technically fascinating dishes I’ve ever had would be from a Kaiseki restaurant in Tokyo. This has everything, Sugar blowing, liquid nitrogen, dehydration, reconstructed something that isn’t really as what it seems. You can see how this is made from the video below, so Im only gonna talk about the flavors. The 300C temperature difference within the dish was a little more for kicks and giggles, but the jam was in fact unbelievably well made, very strong strawberry flavor, slight acidity, not too sweet. Combined with the powdered liquid nitrogen strawberry, it actually worked incredibly well. Reminded me a little of Fat Ducks Hot/Cold ice tea. The crisp sugar shell was a wonderful contrast to the soft jam. For such a small, compact dessert. this offered so much- Textural contrast, temperature contrast, color contrast. Superb


(cold) RyuGin signature dish. “Roppongi pudding”

I’m usually not a fan of puddings, but damn this was good. The burnt caramel was a lot softer and smoother than I expected, not viscous. The complexity of the caramel is beyond words, the burnt, smoky bitterness, the underlying sweetness, and the combination of those flavors with the smoothest, creamiest steamed pudding, its not hard to see why this is a signature dish for Ryugin. Superb

 

 

Ryugin provided an incredible meal, however, my one big issue with the restaurant was that the whole meal was far too rushed. I was in at 5.45pm and out in 1.5 hours. I would finish one dish, pick up my notebook, before even writing 2 sentences, the next dish would already be on my table, and its no surprise that they are rushing- the restaurant has three sittings for dinner, three. For a 3 star restaurant serving a degustation menu, even two sittings is pushing it. I had to tell them to slow the food down halfway because I was already eating at my limit, but even then, the food was still coming out pretty quickly. While this doesn’t sound like a very big deal, having to rush through the food does not make for a good dining experience. Which is a huge shame, because Ryugin easily serves some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life.

A lot of thought has been placed into each dish, the way the flavors come together, the way the cold/hot temperatures of each dish is mapped out on the menu, the contrast of textures, none of the side dishes felt out of place. All in all, the food is intelligent, in a way that serves to elevate the overall taste of the dish, you get a sense that the meal is cooked by a chef to understands and has a wide repertoire of techniques and skills, yet practices restraint because he has a very clear understanding of how to utilize those techniques to maximize efficiency and bring out the best of his produce. A meal at Ryugin isn’t cheap, and Ryugin doesn’t do lunch so you will probably have to spend quite a bit on their degustation menu, but for what its worth, this was the best meal I had in Tokyo, and one of the more memorable meals I’ve had in terms of food.

 

Matcha to end the meal