June 17, 2018

The first dragon

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Mr. QLI is in town for a few days, and we were overdue for a catch-up.  After going through a bunch of options, we realized that he has never been to any of the RyuGin restaurants, so I made a booking for a relatively early seating at Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟).

This was the first time that I've been here as a 2-top, and we were seated by the window along the corridor.  The sun had not yet completely set, and it seemed a little unfamiliar for me to be here without the skies being pitch black outside.

The menu still consists of 12 courses - some of which are small bites - including two desserts.

Cold somen with sea urchin and hamaguri clam stock (蛤と雲丹のそうめん) - I always love the fact that they serve up a chilled somen (そうめん) as the first course during the warmer months.  This time the noodles came in a milky clam stock, topped with Hokkaido sea urchin, scallion sprouts (芽ネギ), and sudachi (酢橘) zest shavings.  So refreshing, with creamy richness.  We were told that there was also something called hananome on top, but I don't know what that is, and I couldn't see it...

Amadai in agedashi style (甘鯛の揚げ出し  蕪と黒くわいの擦り流し) - the tilefish (甘鯛) was battered and deep-fried for a crispy exterior, then placed in a bowl of turnip (蕪) purée with small chunks of water chestnuts.  Served with a deep-fried togarashi (唐辛子) pepper from Hokkaido.

Mango and foie gras with tofu paste (マンゴー白和え  フォアグラ削り節) - now we get some modern touches... On the spoon was mango from Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県) - although I forgot to ask which cultivar - along with some tofu and shavings of frozen foie gras.  Very cold, and a totally different sensation from the last dish.

Kuruma shrimp dumpling in ichibandashi soup (車海老の進上のお椀) - the ichibandashi (一番出汁) made with kombu (昆布) from Rishiri (利尻) has always been light and delicate, but sometimes one wonders whether it could be too delicate...  The dumpling was made with chunks of tiger prawns, which were quite a little bit more chewy than the mousse which bound the chunks together... and the dumpling kinda disintegrated.  Garnished with some shredded myoga (茗荷) on top and cloud ear (雲耳) fungus.

Sashimi (お造り):
Aori squid (アオリイカ) - nice and thick cut, and nicely scored.  Perfect with a few drops of sudachi juice.

Abalone (鮑) - very tender, and also nicely scored for great texture.  Served with abalone liver sauce.

Kinmedai (金目鯛) - the splendid alfonsino came lightly torched, and served with baby perilla leaves and grated radish marinated in ponzu (ポン酢).

Bonito (鰹) - this was aged very, very nicely... and delivered beautifully soft texture.  With finely diced chives and sesame seeds.  Very yum.

Charcoal grilled unagi large eel (鰻の炭火焼き) - the eel is no longer sourced from Taiwan, and they now come from Guangdong Province (廣東省) - although our waiter told us this was Japanese eel...  In any case it was still nice and fatty, with a crispy underside.  Actually worked quite well with the Châteauneuf-du-Pape... 

Tomato consommé with jyunsai (トマトとジュンサイ) - a simple shot of chilled tomato consommé, with all the umami, along with some slippery water shield (蓴菜).

Charcoal grilled smoked pigeon breast (小鳩の炭火焼き) - now THIS was seriously good... The Racan pigeon was cooked PERFECTLY. 

The skin was crispy after grilling, but the breast itself was amazingly rosé and tender.  Delicious on its own, but kinda interesting with the accompanying soy sauce and wasabi.  Needless to say this worked very well with the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and made Mr. QLI very happy.

Kegani crab porridge with yuba (毛ガニと湯葉の雑炊) - the porridge with Japanese horsehair crab from Hokkaido was very delicious, and very comforting towards the end of the meal.

We also had pickled cucumber and eggplant on the side, along with finely-shredded dried bonito (鰹節).

Hoji tea konatsu sorbet with coconut espuma and Tosa konatsu (土佐小夏とほうじ茶) - this was a really interesting dessert, which paired refreshing citrus flavors from Tosa konatsu (another name for hyuganatsu 日向夏) and houjicha (ほうじ茶).  The konatsu compote and gelée delivered fruity notes as well as acidity, while the coconut espuma got completely overpowered by the strong flavors of houjicha.  Delicious and interesting.

Figs with fig flavored ice cream (無花果とその香りのアイス) - the figs from Kochi Prefecture (高知県) were nice and ripe, while the ice cream made with fig leaves and without eggs had a lovely fragrance.

I brought along two bottles which I figured Mr. QLI would enjoy, and thankfully both bottles drank well.

2007 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne - crisp acidity, nice toasty notes, lemon citrus, grilled corn.  After 2½ hours definitely showed some vanilla notes.

1988 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins - decanted for 1 hour prior to serving,  Beautiful nose with floral notes, eucalyptus, bacon fat, leather.  Not as big as I had hoped for, but pretty decent.

A pretty happy dinner, and a good opportunity to catch up.  Many thanks for Seki-san and the team for taking very good care of us.  He's got some stuff competition for this, but the Racan pigeon we got tonight definitely ranks among the very best in town.

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