Date of Visit: March 3 2013
The ancient capital of Japan, Nara is 45mins away from Kyoto (there is a direct trolley running hourly, but don’t hop on the train bound for the other direction like I did!). Compared to Tokyo and Kyoto, Nara is a tranquil town, boasting temples and shrines. Most significantly Nara is a World UNESCO Heritage site and my prime reason to visit Nara is to visit the temples there. However, my quest to eat at Michelin-rated restaurants continued, and I was thrilled to find Wa Yamamura, a local Nara restaurant that has been awarded a 3 stars status by the Michelin Guide in Andy Hayler’s web of international restaurant reviews (here). Since Wa Yamamura’s webpage is in Japanese, I asked my hotel concierge at Hotel Nikko Nara to book for me.
This husband and wife operated restaurant was packed by locals on the night we visited, so even though we made a bar seating reservation for 3 people, we were given a private room which is divided by a kimono curtain. Our 10-course kaiseki was ¥12500 per person. We were very well taken care by the wife of the chef and her team of young waitresses (with one speaking English). True to being ‘omakase’, a hand-written description of the course on pretty notepapers accompanied each course. Here’s what we had…
Date of Visit: February 23 2013
While the other runners opted for carbo-loading with pasta for their pre-race meal. This runner threw all caution to the wind and had a full-course omakase set lunch at Ginza Okuda instead! Why, she reckoned, there’s a rice course in Japanese kaiseki and that’s carbo-loading, ain’t it?! Continue reading
Date of Visit: February 26 2013 (Early Spring Menu)
In stark contrast to its offshoot’s glamorous location in Hong Kong (my review here), Nihonryori RyuGin‘s location in Tokyo is more subdued, in a residential back street off Roppongi. Roppongi was a sleezy area frequented by American GIs in the 60s before Mr Mori took the punt to redevelop the area and almost went under during the Japanese Asset Bubble. Lucky for him, his gamble paid off and now Roppongi is a thriving metropolis in Tokyo.
With an impressive string of accolades, namely 3 Michelin stars and being in S. Pellegrino’s List of World’s Top 50 Restaurants (determined by the water the restaurant sells, methinks), booking for a degustation dinner at RyuGin is very strict – starting at 11:30am on the 1st of the preceding month. However, if you are a late diner, you may be able to book in for their à la carte after 9:30pm. Continue reading
Date of Visit: February 16 2013
To date, my dinner at Tenku RyuGin is the most expensive meal I had in Hong Kong (HK$1980++). What gives? The location of course, atop the International Commerce Center, currently the tallest building in Hong Kong on Level 101. I had also wanted to compare the branch here in Hong Kong before I test the mother branch in Tokyo where I had secured a reservation.
To get to RyuGin, one has to go to the Sky Dining Lobby to catch the dedicated express (1 minute) lift. I guessed that Level 101 must be at 400m (bad digit for the Chinese) above sea-level since the screen inside the lift turned orange once it reached 399m and a second later, the lift doors opened.
The decor of the restaurant is very simple with light-coloured raw timber. It is reminiscent of walking in a Japanese garden passing through the ‘shacks’ of glass-encased wine displays before arriving at our table by the window.
The views from Level 101 is less than spectacular with smog and haze.
Red sun syndrome?