Contemporary kaiseki cuisine with power and presence
Who, what, where and when? One of Tokyo’s most dynamic interpreters of traditional Japanese cuisine, chef Seiji Yamamoto hails from rural Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, where he trained for over a decade at the revered Aoyagi restaurant. In 2003, at the age of 33, he opened Nihonryori RyuGin in the heart of Tokyo’s cosmopolitan Roppongi district.
Eating with the seasons: Yamamoto’s menu changes constantly throughout the year to reflect the finest produce of each season. Among the many highlights are the grilled ayu (sweetfish) in summer; matsutake mushrooms with Wagyu beef from Kagawa in early autumn; matsubagani crabs from November to December; and wild torafugu blowfish in the winter months.
Keeping it contemporary: Yamamoto initially gained recognition for integrating avant-garde modernist cooking techniques in his cuisine, but he has always been deeply grounded in the kaiseki tradition.
Enter the dragon: From the décor to the table settings, dragons have a powerful presence in the dining room. This motif reflects the restaurant name: Nihonryori simply means “Japanese cuisine,” while RyuGin is a term used in Zen Buddhism, meaning “dragon’s voice.”
International presence: RyuGin has two overseas branches. The first, Tenku RyuGin, opened in Hong Kong in 2012, and debuted on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014. Then, in 2015, Yamamoto opened Shoun RyuGin in Taipei, which made its first appearance in the Asia’s 50 Best list in 2018.
New beginnings: After more than 15 year in Roppongi, in summer 2018 Yamamoto relocated his iconic restaurant to a plot three times the size of the original, now claiming nearly 5,000 square feet in Tokyo’s new Hibiya Midtown luxury development. Diners pick between seats in the main dining room, one of two private rooms, or one semi-private room.