Tokyo’s Ryugin Redefining Modern Kaiseki

Ryugin Tokyo: Chef Yamamoto does a modern and complex Kaiseki menu.  It’s totally different from what I experienced at Narisawa, Kichisen, and Taian.  Narisawa is very French influenced and Ryugin is all Japanese.  It’s a seasonal menu with ingredients from all around Japan and went perfectly with the sake.

Here are the accolades of the restaurant:

  • 3 Michelin Stars since the beginning of time.
  • #29 on The San Pellegrino’s 2015 World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
  • #33 on The San Pellegrino’s 2014 World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
  • #5 on The San Pellegrino’s 2016 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
  • #4 on The San Pellegrino’s 2015 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
  • #4 on The San Pellegrino’s 2014 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Nihonryori RyuGin Tokyo Japan
Assorted Sashimi

Chef Seiji Yamamoto is definitely a humble guy.  He was kind enough to step out of the kitchen to take a picture with us.  However, we were in the taxi driving off as he was stepping out of the restaurant to take a picture with us.  I had to yell obscenities at the taxi driver to stop the cab.  I really admire re-known chefs who are humbled by their fame.  The other Asian chef who comes to mind is Chef Tae Hwan Ryu of Ryunique.  Chef Ryu takes a very artistic approach to his craft.  Van Gogh per se.

The restaurant doesn’t have no more than 12 tables in the main dining room.   The 2nd floor serves as waiting room.  The decor is very striking and fits what Ryugin means, which is dragon.  It’s strong, bold and masculine.  The ambiance and lighting certainly brings out the plating and the food like taking a selfie with the camera angling down.

Now, the shokuhin.  Everything was perfect.  However, I’m only going to highlight the really unforgettable dishes.

  1. Shabu Shabu – Chicken broth served with veggies only.  The veggies were fresh and crisp.  It tasted very clean compared to the organic produce we have in America.  The ingredients were simple but the broth was extremely flavorful.  It wasn’t overly salty or tasted icky but it had a nice clean rich taste and extremely comforting like your favorite pillow.

    Nihonryori RyuGin Tokyo Japan
    Shabu Shabu
  2. Sukiyaki – Poached egg and Japanese Wagyu.  The richness of the wagyu complemented the poached egg extremely well.  The buttery texture of the wagyu combined with the silky running yolk from the poached egg was exquisite.  It was sweet, savory and all together umami.  Poached egg and Japanese Wagyu combined are the closest to heaven on earth next to waking up with next to your soul mate.
  3. Rice and Shrimp –   The rice was cooked with Cherry Blossom tea and the shrimp came from the Surugawan Bay.  It was baby shrimps.  The rice and baby shrimps combined were delicately wonderful.  The rice was at the perfect temperature and extremely fluffy when combined with the shrimp it would melt in your mouth.  It was a perfect blend of rice and shrimp.  It’s like eating the perfect nigiri that dissolved in your mouth.  Simply perfect and one of the best dishes I’ve eaten in my life.  Trust me.  I eat a lot of dishes.

    Nihonryori RyuGin Tokyo Japan
    Rice and Shrimp

Overall, Ryugin was hands down my favorite dining experience as of the time of this review.  The Kaiseki style menu, ingredients, flavors of the dishes, the service, the decor, and ambiance.  It definitely made me what to move to Japan just for the food and obsessive details of the craft.  However,  I don’t think I could give up Los Angeles tacos, Little Saigon pho or New York pizza.

Check out our other Tokyo articles here.

Last updated on April 16, 2024 5:52 AM
  • 9.5/10
    Service - 9.5/10
  • 9/10
    Presentation - 9/10
  • 9.5/10
    Flavors - 9.5/10
  • 9.5/10
    Ambiance - 9.5/10
  • 9.5/10
    Decor - 9.5/10


Chef Yamamoto does a modern Kaiseki with traditional Japanese flavors and ingredients from all of Japan. The decor matches some of the bold flavors of the dishes. The imitate setting and perfect execution of service made it one of my favorite dining experiences.

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