September 30, 2015

Back to the sky dragon

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It's been six months since our last visit to Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) before Chef Sato Hideaki (佐藤秀明)'s departure, and Babu has been hankering to go back for her "Japanese food".  When scheduling conflicts prevented us from booking a table at Ta Vie 旅 on short notice, we ended up going back to Tenku RyuGin instead so that Babu could get her fix.

It's always nice to go back to a place where they know you.  The minute I gave the receptionist my name over the phone, she asked if I was the one "who doesn't eat tuna"...  And even though Takano-san has made the move to Ta Vie 旅 with her husband, the staff still remembered that I always ask for a copy of the Japanese menu, and I had it in my hands mere seconds after I asked for it.

I was eager to see any changes Chef Seki Hidemichi (関秀道) may or may not have made since taking over in April, but I had the utmost confidence that the food would still be at a very high standard.  After all, he had been the restaurant's sous chef and, in fact, is said to have been under Chef Yamamoto Seiji (山本征治)'s tutelage since RyuGin opened in Tokyo.

Cold noodles topped with white shrimp, caviar, abalone, and abalone liver sauce (白海老と煮鮑の冷製そうめん  キャビア  鮑肝ダレ) - cold somen (そうめん) has always been my favorite way to start a meal at RyuGin, and tonight in addition to the usual caviar and glass shrimp (白海老), the chef also added slices of abalone.  All of which are among Babu's favorite ingredients.  Of course, nowadays everyone's also making sure they serve the abalone liver sauce.  Garnished with the usual perilla flowers and scallion sprouts (芽ねぎ).  So refreshing and very, very good.  Babu was already happy after one course...  Only nine more to go!

Foie gras flavored with porto and wasanbon sugar, served with fresh figs and sesame cream sauce (ポルト酒薫る  和三盆仕立ての  フォアグラ  と  いちじく  胡麻クリーム  を絡めて) - this is a dish that I first had in Tokyo five years ago.  Absolutely loved it.  The chunks of French foie were sooo silky smooth... and I definitely tasted the Port.  The figs provided the nice sweetness and a bit of acidity to go with the rich foie, and I really liked the myoga (茗荷) strands on top.  Chomp chomp.  Can I have two more, please?

Pike eel hamo with matsutake mushroom in ichibandashi soup (鱧  松茸のお椀) - I'm glad the pike conger (鱧) is still in season, and this preparation is so classic!  The ichibandashi (一番出汁) is as clean and pure as always.  During my first dinner at RyuGin in Tokyo, I was told that Chef Yamamoto put the pike conger through an X-ray to determine that cutting it at a 26-degree angle was optimal for breaking the bones.  Anyway... loved the soft, fluffy conger in spite of the bits of broken bones... and that little dab of plum sauce on top.  The matsutake (松茸) delivered a delicate fragrance on top.

Assortment of sashimi (本日のお造り盛り合わせ) - they used to serve three different types of seafood for the sashimi course, but tonight we've got six:

Olive flounder (鮃)

Cuttlefish (烏賊) - scored 27 times on each side.  Love the texture.

Scallop (帆立貝) - this scallop from Hokkaido is sweeter and tasted more of the sea than any I have had in the last few months.  Wow!

Surf clam (北寄貝) - lightly torched, and the sea salt really brought the flavors out.

Homard bleu - the Brittany lobster was really nice, and served with some Apple vinegar.

Bonito (鰹) - very, very soft in texture.  Definitely has been aged.

Charcoal grilled amadai brushed with miso-yuan sauce (“甘鯛”  味噌幽庵焼き) - I didn't realize that yu-anyaki (幽庵焼き) is one of the classic preparations of tilefish, and one could be forgiven for thinking it's just another "miso cod"... except that tilefish is miles and miles better in terms of flavor and texture.  Served with deep-fried ginkgo nuts, a wafer of deep-fried baby sardines, and some pickled radish and seaweed on the side.

Cold kegani crab egg custard with grated fresh apple vinegar (毛蟹の冷製茶碗蒸し  すりおろし林檎の赤酢と共に) - loved this cold chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し), since it's topped with plenty of Japanese horse hair crab meat marinated in vinegar.  Little cubes of cucumber added a little crunch.

Wagyu beef shabu shabu, lotus root cake and onion ponzu sauce (和牛リブロース  れんこんもち  玉葱ポン酢のあん) - oh boy... Yet another irresistible wagyu dish with A4 beef from Miyazaki (宮崎県).  Two not-too-thin slices of rib eye roast, done slightly more pink than medium-rare, that was so smooth and buttery it might as well have melted in the mouth.  Topped with some crispy kadaif and purple perilla leaves and served with onion ponzu (ポン酢) for the acidity to cut the fat.

There's a deep-fried dumpling made with lotus root, which had tiny little crunchy bits on the inside.  Very, very yum.

Steamed rice topped with ikura salmon roe (“新物いくら”  御飯) - salmon roe is one of my favorite things to eat, and these little pearls were very, very good.  I liked the perilla leaves but the rice was simply way too mushy.

RyuGin specialty -196°C peach candy and +99°C peach jam (-196°Cの桃飴 と +99°Cの飴炊き桃) - we're already past the end of peach season, but I'm glad they were still serving this dessert.

Cracked the candy shell with one hit of the spoon...

...and the hot jam was ladled on top.  Yum.

Melon and sake kasu (酒粕とメロン) - a pretty busy dessert.  Mousse made with sake lees (酒粕), along with melon ice cream enhanced with sea salt.  There was also a sprinkle of melon and lemongrass granité providing a different texture.  Finally there were paper-thin wafers made from glutinous rice powder which had been dehydrated for five hours, and flavored with melon liqueur.  Finally, there was crushed coconut biscuits at the bottom for more crunch.

A very, very happy meal tonight.  I found every single dish enjoyable, which is no small feat for any restaurant putting together a 10-course meal.  Babu was also pretty happy, which was the real important thing.  It would seem that I shouldn't stay away from this place for too long...

1 comment:

komal said...

Oh my god I’m literally salivating!! Teleport me to Japane now!! Yum!! Thanks for sharing!


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