Date of review: September 1, 2015 | Reviewed by: Janice Leung Hayes
At a height usually reserved for observation decks and helicopters is ICC’s Sky Dining floor, where Tenku Ryugin is located. The main feature of the décor is arguably what’s not in the restaurant – the spectacular view afforded on a clear day, of Victoria Harbour and beyond. Inside, the décor isn't your typical hinoki-laden Zen, but an edgier approach to minimalism, with low lights, timber flooring, high backed chairs and satin sheen tablecloths in an inky grape hue.
As the only offshoot of the legendary modern kaiseki restaurant Ryugin, produce for the degustation-only restaurant is personally selected by Tokyo-based executive chef Seiji Yamamoto and flown in daily for the Hong Kong team, headed by chef de cuisine Hideaki Sato. Highly in tune with the seasons, the menu can change on a day-to-day basis.
The cold noodles topped with white shrimp, abalone and abalone liver sauce is an invigorating start to the meal, with immaculately scored and chopstick-tender abalone, a sauce that strikes the perfect balance between minerality and richness, and shrimp so fresh they taste sweet. The next two courses are quartered figs on tiles of port-flavoured foie gras terrine and a bowl of clean, simple ichiban dashi stock with pike eel (hamo) – perhaps too light after the rich foie gras, but a fitting interlude for the sashimi that follows. The buttery squid is a highlight, but the rest of the selection could do little to excite us, as they all seem to lack flavour – even the marinated akami tastes more of soy sauce than fish. The charcoal grilled amadai provides a rich contrast, but the next course of cold kegani crab egg custard with fresh apple vinegar is what finally brings focus to this wild tangle of flavours. A generous portion of sweet crab meat and a finely textured apple vinegar granita sits atop a delicate, smooth, just-set chawanmushi with a hint of umami. It’s a study in elegant restraint, in balance, and in creating a dish that is more than the sum of its parts.
The Wagyu shabu shabu and ikura topped rice ply on the decadence – it’s a lot of food, but you don’t do this every day. The slices of Wagyu, slightly thicker than you’d normally expect for a hot pot, means that one can really enjoy the juices that the meat is so good at retaining.
Finally, the signature dessert of -196 degrees Celcius fruit candy and +99 degrees Celcius fruit jam are served. The choice of fruit changes seasonally, and this time, we are lucky enough to have momo, Japanese white peach. The hot jam is dolloped on top of the liquid-nitrogen frozen, brittle peach-shaped shell, exposing a sorbet within, and we are instructed to mix the plate’s contents together. With a little help from kitchen science, the meal ends on a high note.
Like the menu, the cellar is aimed at deep-pocketed drinkers, although with two sakes available by the carafe, one is able to enjoy the meal with a sip here and there.
Servers work unobtrusively, and are extremely well informed on the ingredients and sake.
At over $2000 per head just for food, this is definitely meant for the occasional treat, and at that, it’s comparable with the town’s other fine diners.