Two of us went to Ryugin for dinner. The restaurant had just been promoted to 3 stars by the Guide Rouge for Tokyo and claimed spot no. 28 on San Pellegrino's list of top 50 restaurants in the world. Naturally, expectations were high.
They were disappointed. The key problem was quite plainly that the food was not tasty (with the exception of the chargrilled kinki fish). Ingredient quality was very good, and technical execution was flawless. But in general, the dishes had very little taste, far less than what one would expect even for Kyoto kaiseki, which is usually considered "bland" even by Japanese. What use is fancy cooking if there is no taste?
Service was polite but extremely slow; expect to take 3 hours for the set menu. Forty-five minutes after we had arrived, we finally got the second course (out of about 10). Best not to be hungry.
Slow progress through the courses would have been be OK if the chairs had been comfortable, which they were not because they have very thin cushions. Ryugin is also not a great place for a leisurely chat, as diners sit so close together as to be able to overhear their neighbors (and there are lots of foreigners in the place, so speaking English offers no protection).
Strange was that the restauranton its web page correctly warns against wearing perfume but put to use a heavily perfumed liquid soap in the bathroom. Peculiar, given that most dishes are fish-based, was further the presence of a fairly extensive selection of red wines (which usually do not pair well with fish). A few other lapses of service occurred, including a staff member who was standing right next to my wife not moving a finger to help her put on her coat (I was coming to the reception area after her and was not close enough yet to help).
Overall, a disappointment. We would not recommend this place to our friends, not even if the price were halved.
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