Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My third -- and probably final -- visit to Tenku RyuGin

The first dish I recently had at RyuGin --
and my favorite of the entire kaiseki meal I had there

 Wagyu ribeye sukiyaki with onsen tamago -- seriously, 
how simultaneously decadent and comfort food-ish can one get?!

 -196 degrees Celsius Mandarin organge candy mixed with
+99 degrees Celsisus Mandarin orange jam, and pop rocks! :D

Believe it or not: As much of a feast as the Korean fried chicken-heavy dinner at Chicken Hof & Soju was, it actually wasn't my most anticipated meal of of the first few days of this Chinese New Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram.  Instead, that accolade goes to the 10 course dinner that the blogger behind The Fragrant Harbour and I had at the Hong Kong branch of RyuGin (now known as Tenkyu RyuGin) on Saturday evening.

Since my dinner companion has already described the meal in detail over on her blog, I consider myself saved from doing so.  Still, I'll echo her statement re the smooth, rich and ultra umami-tasting ankimo (Monkfish liver) we were served as the first course tasting better than foie gras -- and I'd go further and state that if I had been given a few more servings of that in lieu of some of the other courses that made up our kaiseki meal that evening, I sure would have been a super happy camper!

Also delicious were the meal's second and third courses in our meal consisting, respectively, of chawan mushi topped with yuba -- which I first had in Nikko, where it's a specialty dish -- and uni (sea urchin), and simmered abalone with winter vegetables served with grated radish sauce.  And although I am not usually a fan of almonds, the almond ice cream with strawberry and sweet red beans covered with meringue concoction which was the the 10th and final course of the evening's dinner was a lovely way to end the meal.

Ironically, the worst course of this over HK$2,000 Japanese meal -- and yes, I paid for it! -- was the sashimi (course #5) -- and I'm not just saying this because none of my favorite sashimi (or sushi) ingredients were among the featured options.  Rather, it's that the hirame (flounder) was nothing special, and I actually had better geoduck and yellowtail this evening at Senryo - my favorite kaiten sushi chain here in Hong Kong -- than I did at RyuGin last Saturday night!

And while the charcoal grilled Alfonsino covered with roasted rice (course #6) and wagyru ribeye sukiyaki with onsen tamago (course #7) was pretty tasty, I have to confess to feeling somewhat disappointed upon seeing it on the menu -- for on my third visit to RyuGin, I expected to encounter innovation all the way rather than spy and be served familiar dishes once more.

At the same time, I do understand -- and accept -- the idea of a restaurant having signature dishes.  And in the case of RyuGin, it was cool to see another variation of the -196 degrees Celsius fruit candy and +99 degrees Celsius fruit jam combo.  Still, the fact of the matter is that I preferred the strawberry I had at my first ever meal at RyuGin -- and I think that one big part of the reason why I loved that so much more than the mango concoction I was served on my second visit and the mandarin orange I was served most recently is because it came with the element of surprise.

After my first visit to this high end dining establishment, I felt that only its high price would dissuade me from returning, at least sometime soon.  As it so happened, I was invited to go there for a second time free of charge -- but this time around, my dining companion and I decided to fork out the cash to treat ourselves.  

Maybe paying one's own way has something to do with my feeling that this time around, I didn't get so much for my money. (And looking back, it's interesting to note that while I came away from my previous dinners at RyuGin feeling super full and close to experiencing a taste overload, that wasn't the case this time around!) But I think it's also truly a case of my first dinner at RyuGin feeling special because of it coming across as incredibly innovative as well as genuinely delicious.   

In any event, it seems to be a matter of the law of diminishing returns with this restaurant.  Put another way: I was blown away by my first visit to RyuGin; still pretty ecstatic but a tad less impressed on my second visit; and on my third visit, filled with few regrets but also thinking that I've paid my final visit there -- or, at least, for a time so that the memories can fade and therefore make things feel really special there once more.


Goodbye HK, Hello YVR said...

Aiya filled with regrets!!!! It was that bad???!!!

YTSL said...

Hi The Fragrant Harbour --

Er...I wrote "filled with few regrets", not filled with a few regrets (or more)!