English Reviews (Reviews Total Language : 13 reviews)
“My most memorable meal ever”
I don't say this lightly, but I can honestly say that this was one of the most memorable meals I've had ever. The entire experience, the service, the food, the value - everything just made this meal a wonderful experience that I am glad to have enjoyed with my family. Reservation and Location Maki...ng a reservation for this restaurant seems relatively straight forward. I used a concierge and was able to make a reservation the night before (which is rare for a Michelin starred restaurant). Getting to the restaurant however requires pre-planning as it is located on a suburban street far from central Kyoto. However the neighbourhood charm certainly adds to the experience and the exterior is non-descript not unlike most high end restaurants. Food The menu is a set menu, 6.5k Yen and consists of multiple courses. There is no other option for the night menu so it saves you from deciding. Course 1 - 200 year old Edo period Soba recipe. The waitress told us that this Soba was as it was 200 years ago during the Edo period. Soba was simply a ball of buckwheat, not noodles. This fascinated all of us. The buckwheat was sticky, almost like glutinous rice in a bowl of flavourful miso. Very interesting flavours and textures. Solid 15/20 (1* level). Course 2 - Soba chips, Tomago, Soba, Sesame and grilled fish with vegetable. This selection of different elements is not unlike what you expect from a kaiseki opening course. Ingredients were very fresh. The soba was cooked perfectly, with just enough bite. The soba chips were refreshing and the grilled fish just melted in the mouth. Only the tomago was a bit disappointing due to a lack of creaminess. However the absolute standout was the sesame tofu which was silky smooth and packed with sesame flavour, one of the best single elements i've ever tasted. Together this plate was a solid 17.5/20 (2-3 michelin star level). Course 3 - Carp sashimi with mountain flower garnish. Carp sashimi is often served in Kaiseki and given the mutlicourse nature of the meal not surprising. Overall carp was quite fresh and had good texture. Not the best I've ever had, but solid. 15/20 (1 star level) Course 4- Tempura (fish?) in tempura sauce. This tempura was crazy, the outside was coated with rice then fried. I've never had tempura that was coated in rice and it certainly added flavour, crunch and texture that tempura often lacks. The only downside was that it was slightly overdone on my tempura (you can see scorch marks). Nonetheless the interior was moist and delicious. Waitress said this recipe was 400 years old. 15.5/20 (1 star level) Course 5 - Soba + Soba soup. Honestly easily the best Soba I've had in Japan. Obviously very high quality buckwheat has been used in this dish as the noodle has perfect bite yet retains the flavour of buckwheat. I know this is seemingly a simple dish, but the balance of bite, flavour and texture needs to be balanced. 18/20 (3 star level? its a simple dish though). Course 6 - Crispy salmon with vegetables. Salmon had very crisp skin, the actual salmon however was slightly dry. Still delicious. The vegetables were clearly fresh and cooked just right. 14/20 (bib gourmand level). Course 7 - Unagi on a bed of rice, with pickles and roasted tea. Unagi was flavourful, fatty and rice cooked well. Hard to fault overall. However not to the same level as some unagi specialist shops (which you would expect). Still solid 14/20 (bib gourmand level). Course 8 - Soba again - if I remember correctly in a warm clear broth - interestingly the soba was still perfectly al dente (something that a lot of places screw up on). Can't really grade this so 14/20. Course 9 - Dessert - Soba cake, Soba chocolate and slice of orange. Cake was moist, had buckwheat flavour and just sweet enough. Chocolate was interesting, but was more like strands of soba with icing sugar through it. Solid dessert, not mindblowing but easily above average. 15/20 (1 star level). Final courses - Green matcha and bonus of roasted tea with soba. I'm not an expert in Matcha by any stretch, but this matcha was really solid. Not bitter like you get from cheaper Matcha but had that neutral sweetness that you expect from higher grade stuff. At the very least on par with what they serve at Nakamura in Uji. 16/20 (1 star level). After this we talked for a bit and surprise roasted tea with soba chunks in it came ( pretty sure this is bonus ). Overall on the food this was solid 1 star level (on the higher end of 1 star for sure). 16.5/20 Overall on the food. Location/Atmosphere This place is quite far from central kyoto, roughly 20-30 minutes by bus. It certainly has charm. The interiors are nothing to boast about, but they are simple, spartan and clean. The floors are heated during winter. If you are lucky like we were, you will be the only guests dining there. Certainly in that sense there is a feel of private dining that elevates the experience to another level. Service The husband and wife bowed to us in the traditional way (kneeling on tatami mats) when we came in and were very warm and welcoming. The wife was able to communicate to us with limited but sufficient English. She even asked her husband (the chef) a few questions when we asked about the history of the dish. Service was for the most part on point, dishes came at just the right time - never too fast or too slow. Assistance in terms of taxi ride was offered, but we opted to walk. They seemed very glad we had come and were always smiling. It is hard to put into words the level of hospitality experienced that night. Value At 6500 Yen per person for 10 courses this is by far the most value for money dining experience I have had. I felt so bad I wanted to tip the restaurant (tipping is not practiced at all in japan however). Overall There is something special about Ryuhei Soba that is intangible. I don’t know whether it’s the perfect mix of delicious food, the japanese hospitality or the charm of suburban Kyoto – but something about it really elevates this place. I can’t recommend this place enough and I can only hope that the next time I’m in Kyoto that this place still remains somewhat undiscovered.
Visited February 2015