What happened when we visited exclusive Hong Kong’s Tenku RyuGin

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Premium broth with abalone two kinds simmered Chiba “Akaawabi” and poached Mie “Kuroawabi” at Japanese kaiseki-style restaurant Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong.

Tenku RyuGin delivers kaiseki-style dining that’s so much more than exquisite food.

It’s not just the panoramic view of Hong Kong and its skyscrapers with its millions of lights that takes your breath away on the 101st floor of the International Commerce Centre; it’s also the edible artwork and philosophy of Japan’s kaiseki cuisine at two-Michelin star restaurant Tenku RyuGin.

Hakuho peach mixed with Kyoto tofu.

Husband-and-wife duo chef de cuisine Hidemichi Seki, 37, and head pastry chef Mizuho Seki, 41, from Japan work hard to give their guests a one-of-a-kind experience.

Hidemichi Seki tells Two Chat Food, “I wish customers can enjoy Japanese food that can only be eaten [at] Tenku RyuGin Hong Kong.”

Tenku RyuGin was born out of the original three-Michelin star Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, which Chef Seki joined when it opened in 2003 before moving to Spain to learn more about its cuisine.

Mizuho (left) and Hidemichi Seki in Hong Kong. Photo: Tenku RyuGin.
Mizuho (left) and Hidemichi Seki. Photo: Tenku RyuGin.

But when Nihonryori’s executive chef Seiji Yamamoto asked Seki to front up its Hong Kong extension in 2012, he welcomed the opportunity.

Seki explains the inspiration behind his dishes at Tenku RyuGin are a blend of technique, experience and conscientiousness.

Once I have a new creation, I will keep trying different combinations until I find the right balance.

Hidemichi Seki

Seki says, “Based on the skills and knowledge that I learned, add ideas from my experience, once I have a new creation, I will keep trying to cook and taste in different combinations, repeat and repeat, until I found the right balance between all ingredients.”

Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong.
Tenku RyuGin translates to ‘singing dragon’ in Japanese.

Kaiseki cuisine

The spirit of Japanese food is in its freshness and expression of four seasons – qualities Seki and Mizuho say they’re committed to upholding. Whether they source produce from Japan or Hong Kong, it arrives fresh every day.

Tenku RyugGin’s website reads, “We believe the ultimate tip in mastering the art of culinary is to use ingredients in their best form, in order to enjoy and preserve its purest optimal flavour, texture, and aroma.”

A course at Kaiseki rrestaurant Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong.
Kaiseki cuisine celebrates nature by decorating its dishes with flowers and plants.

But the restaurant is really distinguished by its kaiseki style, a thoughtful art form.

Kaiseki is a multi-course artistic Japanese dinner, appreciated for its beautiful flavours, textures, presentation and colours. And we’re not only talking about the food and drink but the plates, bowls and sake cups in which they sit.

The glistening 3.6 milk ice cream dessert at Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong.
The glistening 3.6 milk ice cream dessert at Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong.

The kanji characters, 懐石, used to write kaiseki translates to “bosom-pocket stone” that refers to Zen monks who placed warm stones against their stomachs to help stave off their hunger .

Kaiseki is thought to originate from Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591) who’s considered to have greatly influenced chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony). He used these kanji characters to refer to an austere meal served alongside chanoyu.  

While kaiseki has evolved to become more luxurious, our 10-course dinner at Tenku RyuGin still preserves the essence of its original form. The dishes are daintily sized and our waiter, restaurant manager Samantha Tai, leaves ample time before serving each one.

Sake cups at Kaiseki style Japanese restaurant Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong.
We are asked to choose from a tray of intricately designed sake cups, true to the ornate style of kaiseki.

SUMMER FOOD

Andrea: Our evening begins with Hokkaido kegani crab and caviar with cucumber jelly and cauliflower mousse. It’s oozing freshness and laced with elegance.

Hokkaido 'Kegani' crab and caviar with cucumber jelly and cauliflower mousse at Tenku Ryugin, Hong Kong.
Like a vibrant summer garden.

The beauty flows into the next dish of premium broth with two kinds of abalone: simmered akaawabi from Chiba, a prefecture on the outskirts of Tokyo, and poached kuroawabi from Mie prefecture in the Kansai region on the main Honshu Island of Japan.

Rex: It’s served in a dramatic black bowl, a timbre that diverges from the sweet, delicate marine mollusc-tinctured broth.  

Cold Somen noodles with abalone liver sauce, Hokkaido Uni sea urchin and Toyama Shiroebi shrimp.
A delicate broth.

Andrea: The sounds of summer continue with Hakuho peach mixed with Kyoto tofu. Hakuho peach is distinguished by its sweet soft flesh. The combination of tofu and peach is like silk on silk.

Rex: Our cold somen noodles are particularly grabbing. I mostly eat soup noodles hot, and I’m curious about whether the flavour of the abalone liver sauce is pronounced because of the cool temperature it’s served at.

Cold somen noodles with abalone liver sauce, Hokkaido uni sea urchin and Toyama Shiroebi shrimp
The cold temperature accentuates its flavour.

Andrea: Seki pairs the green-tinged noodles with the bright orange of sea urchin or uni, producing another type of piquant, this time through colour contrast.

Rex: Out comes the lychee wood-roasted Nagasaki Sujiara grouper, regarded as a high-quality fish in Hong Kong and whose flavour is accentuated by salted mustard green fish stock and summer vegetables.

Lychee wood roasted Nagasaki Sujiara” 'grouper with salted mustard green fish stock and summer vegetables
One of Seki’s own creations.

Seki tells us this is his most favourite dish on the summer menu. The fish, which is slaughtered using the Japanese technique ikejime (considered humane and maintains the meat’s quality), is aged for two weeks. He says his introduction to bacalao a la brasa or grilled cod eight years ago in Basque Country in Spain inspired him to wood roast it.

Two years later, he ate at a Sichuan restaurant in Macao and was impressed by the spicy pickled river-fish hot pot – another flavour he wanted his grouper dish to echo.

Andrea: I love the Miyazaki A4 wagyu beef with grilled eggplant. Tenku RyuGin serves this in the style of Shabshabu or Japanese hot pot so it’s sliced very thinly and almost melts in your mouth.

Miyazaki A4 wagyu beef in Shabushabu style and grilled eggplant with Ponzu citrus soya sauce and Tasmanian black truffle
Some of the most top quality meat you can taste.

The grilled eggplant has been cooked into a creamy flesh, glazed with the tang of citrus ponzu sauce and rounded out by the earthy tones of truffle from the southern Australian state of Tasmania.

Rex: I liked it too. But I expected to enjoy it the most when in fact I enjoy the final savoury meal of the evening: the charcoal-grilled unagi (eel, which is typically eaten in Japan’s warmer months) steamed rice and ginger.

Andrea: Usually, I don’t enjoy eel, but its smoke-wrapped buttery flakes and the variance created through the glint of ginger and cushy rice.

Charcoal grilled Unagi large eel, steamed rice with ginger.
Flavours complementing through contrast.

We freshen our palate with our first dessert by Mizuho. She begins our sweet section with a sorbet of hōjicha green roasted tea and konatsu citrus with tea coconut espuma (the Spanish word for foam).

Making the most of summer flavours.

Mizuho explains she likes to use tea for dessert but it took some experimenting to finally get it to work with the citrus.

“This hōjicha and konatsu citrus was a bit attempt for me as I never knew if these two [would match]…but I found finally that [the] coconut flavor connects these distinct flavors mildly,” she tells Two Chat Food.

Our host of the evening, Samantha, shows us the the citrus that Mizuho’s favourite dessert features.

Rex: Our finale spotlights the fruit that is epitome of of summer: mango.

Andrea: Mizuho accompanies it with the lovely stretchy, chewy treat mochi and intense-flavoured 3.6 milk ice cream – a Japanese version of the popular milk-and-honey pairing. A pungent goat cheese espuma makes powers up the the 3.6 milk flavour even more, reminding me of the way the humidity of the hotter months honeys scents.

I have loved this evening. Tenku RyuGin provides a level of splendour that Australia, where we are based, has not yet seen.

Menu at Japanese restaurant Tenku Ryugin in Hong Kong.
Inside the envelope are our menus for our evening.

Rex: But it comes without pretence. Our waiter Samantha brings our evening to life with rich descriptions of our dishes punctured by her endearing character.

She also goes above and beyond to answer our questions. We didn’t know what a konatsu looked like, so she goes to the kitchen and brings one to our table, like the Konatsu citrus fruit.

Andrea: A meal at Tenku RyuGin is distinguished by its ornamental sapidity and the care it takes to help guests understand flavours.

Rex: From the creation of each dish to their delivery, Tenku RyuGin is a meditation on food and its appreciation.

Explore more of our culinary adventures at Two Chat Food or follow us on Instagram @twochatfood.


Tenku RyuGin | $$$
101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Opening hours
Mon-Sun: 6:00pm-9:30pm

More info
10-course set dinner menu 
Telephone: (852) 2302 0222
Email: info@ryugin.com.hk
Seating capacity: 48 seats (including 2 private rooms for 4 persons and 10 persons)

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