Tenku RyuGin is the first overseas restaurant of Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, which strives to recreate the Tokyo dining experience in Hong Kong. The restaurant was opened in 2012 and soon won 2 Michelin stars in 2013. It is also positioned No.24 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant 2015. Since my wonderful experience at Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, plus the truth that Tenku RyuGin won so many awards, i finally decided to try out its Hong Kong branch.
Visited: July.19th.2015 (Dinner)
Address: Tenku Ryugin, 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon
Hours: 18:00-21:30 daily
Menu/price: $2180 HKD+
Compare to the dark and mysterious impression of Ninhonryori RyuGin Tokyo, the ambiance at Tenku RyuGin is much brighter and comfortable. Located on 101 floor of ICC, the incredible stunning view from the full size windows allows you to have an overview of island Hong Kong and west Kowloon.
The table setting is the same as RyuGin Tokyo, very innovative Japanese style. The menu has been prepared and given in an purple envelope on the table, the dishes changes seasonally depends on the freshest produce. Tenku RyuGin was formerly helmed by Chef Seiji Yamamoto from RyuGin Tokyo, but he left Tenku RyuGin and opened his own restaurant in Central. The restaurant is currently helmed by Hidemichi Seki.
The wine list features wide range of western wines and Japanese sake, while the signature drink at RyuGin is their green tea, priced at $690~$990 per bottle. You can also order by glass if you don’t feel like to drink too much.
The first dish was beautifully presented, came with a very lovely abalone fragrance. The abalone was very tender and delicious, the white shrimp has a very rich texture, both very umami and impressive. The caviar added a luxurious hint to the dish. Abalone liver sauce is not doubt the highlight to the dish, it was rich and deep in flavor, which enhanced the overall taste of the dish.
Followed by a foie gras dish topped with fresh figs. The foie gras was creamy and paired very well with the juicy and sweet figs. The wasanbon sugar and sesame cream sauce added a Japanese twist, and made it more flavorful.
For people who don’t eat foie gras, the chef prepared the slow cooked blue lobster as a substitution. The lobster has a clean taste, juicy but could be more tender. The apple vinegar jelly made the simple dish more flavorful. But in comparison, the foie gras is much better.
The next dish was a Japanese soup, made of clear clam soup with yuba (tofu) dumpling and braise bamboo fungus. The soup itself was very umami, the yoba dumpling was moist and paired well with the slightly crunchy fungus.
We expected the sashimi platter the most but we felt a bit disappointing about it. Firstly, before if came to the table.
My reader should know that i am a pescetarian, not those strict ones because i generally don’t eat beef, lamb, pork, venison those kind of red meat, but i do eat pigeon, quail, foie gras and poultries. Pescetarian also eat all kind of seafood and fish no matter what color the fish is. When i emailed Tenku RyuGin for reservation, i told the reception that i am a pecetarian thus please refrain beef, lamb, pork these kind of red meat in my course, but i do eat poultires, pigeon and ALL kinds of seafood and fish. The lady replied me and asked if i can take red fish such as tuna, i said yes ALL kins of seafood. By that time i found that how can they have such bad basic knowledge.
Before the meal starts, i was informed that due to my dietary request, my foie gras dish was changed to blue lobster, and tuna in my sashimi platter was changed to anther kind of shellfish, wagyu to kinmedai. I am okay with the last one, but for the first two, i was really angry about the amendment, because i clearly did tell them in email that i do eat foie gras and red colored fish, and, foie gras & tuna are my favorite. I told them i was not very happy with their service quality – that was not my fault, it is okay if they don’t have a good knowledge of my dietary request, but how can they make the mistake again even i told them very clearly? And as you know, the ingredients of Kaiseki was prepared before the meal, as its not my fault, i told them i WANT my tuna, and fortunately i had it.
We felt very disapponited when we saw the tuna with an extremely dry looking in our sashimi platter. When the first server came and introduce the course, she said it was tuna, when i asked which part was it – maguro, toro, otoro, chutoro? And where is it from? She couldn’t tell and left with ‘wait a second’. No more servers come to our table in a while, and i asked another server, he said it was not tuna, and neither he can tell where is it from. Then we said okay nevermind, we just go eat – but the quality really sucks.
Hirame was not fresh and too tough, the quality was not even as good as a mid-range Japanese restaurant. Ika passed the test, chewy and become more creamy, with a sweet aftertaste. Scallop was juicy and tender. The Akagai was served with a pinch of sea salt for keeping its best flavors, but the akagai itself was very dry and has no sea flavor at all. Maguro was really horrible, it has tough tendons and taste very dull. So many disappointment so far.
Move on to the grilled dish, my favorite eel. The grilled eel came with a lovely charcoalled scent, i expected it a lot after the disappointing sashimi. The eel was not perfectly melt-in-mouth tenderness, nothing special about the sauce – but it was too strong and salty which covered the flavor of eel. The chives was too tough and really conflict with the ‘tender’ eel.
Next came a pretty bowl of chawanmushi. Different from the normal hot ones, this one was served cold which reminds me of pudding. It has a fragrance of sweet corn and topped with my favorite sea urchin. The chawanmushi was smooth but a bit too sweet, which covers the flavor of egg custard and creamy sea urchin. While the yam and deep-fried scallions nicely added more texture
My main course was changed to grilled Kinmedai, i loved its roasted rice cover which was very crispy and paired well with its moist flesh. But the grilled vegetables on the side were really bland.
My partner had the ribeye sukiyaki which was very pleasant, the beef was melt-in-mouth tenderness and paired very well with the perfectly poached onsen egg.
Next was the rice dish – steamed rice with pan fried vegeables and Kegani crab, served with Japanese pickles (yam) and miso soup. The rice was kind of loose compare to all the rice dish i had in Japan, as well as RyuGin Tokyo. Nothing special about the pan fried vegetables, to us it was like Chinese pickles without strong flavors. The crab meat was fresh but its yolk was not very creamy now brown on color. The miso soup combines two different kinds of miso, thus stronger in flavor.
A cup of green tea to clean the palate.
‘Apple’ was RyuGin’s signature dessert, outside was made of apple candy into a apple shape and inside was powdered apple. The concept is the same as ‘Strawberry’ I had in RyuGin Tokyo. Crack open the apple candy shell with spoon, and served with +99°C apple jam onto the -196°C apple powder, the entire combianation of apple in different textures and different temperatures was so good. I really enjoyed the apple powder inside, taste like ice cream and shaved ice but much firmer, the apple jam paired the frozen powder very well.
I really missed the Sake Souffle from RyuGin Tokyo but it is not available at Tenku RyuGin. While the second dessert also features ‘sake’ which interests me a lot. Unfortunately, it tastes very wired. Sake mousse and cheese was silkly and balanced very well with the melon flavor. The cookie crumbles on the bottom was too sweet, and the crystal layer on the top was very salty.
I was pretty impressed by the warm cup of fresh matcha at RyuGin Tokyo, and i was quite glad that i can have it again when it came to the table. However, it taste bland like water and we none of us finished it.
In general, i don’t think the meal worth $2180 regarding to the quality of food and service. The menu was priced the same as RyuGin in Tokyo but the quality really differentiate a lot – I don’t think the 1-Michelin-star difference can make such differences, as some 1-starred restaurant serves much better food. The service was too another disappointment as i mentioned, I think i paid the money mostly for its stunning view – but so many better choice at 101 Sky Dining, even Inakaya (田舍家) is better than here. I don’t know whether this is because of the left of Chef Seiji, but if the quality stills like this, i don’t think it is qualified for 2 stars and such expensive price.