Thursday, September 6, 2018

New sushi place in Taipei

We managed to make a booking at Chef Yonglong Yang’s Sushi Ryu (鮨隆) restaurant in Taipei this time. The restaurant was just over one-year-old but already got quite a reputation, including the first Michelin star within 6 months of its opening – that was part of the reason why I was curious to give it a try.

Chef Yang was the head chef at Sasa Sushi for many years before opening his own namesake restaurant (Ryu is the romanized Japanese for “Long”, which is the chef’s name in Chinese) We happened to eat at Sasa before right after he has left, and one could easily spot the traits of similar style between both in terms of cooking and serving. That included the plate of pickles (daikon, cucumber and ginger) served on a ceramics plate just before our meal began – the daikon was still my favorite with the balanced acidity and refreshing lime zest and shiso on top. I think I had more than a fair share of those throughout the meal.

But then both were quite different in terms of setup. While Sasa Sushi was huge with multiple long and wide counters, the dining area at Sushi Ryu felt much intimate yet spacious, with a single L-shaped wooden counter which can seat 15, with 3 chefs working comfortably behind. There’s no written menu but we were verbally told of the choices based on different price points, and at the end we went for the NT$3000 one (equivalent to around USD$100) – slightly on the high side among other top sushi restaurants in town.

We were served by one of Chef Yang’s sous chefs, and we began with a few sashimi pieces. I wasn’t much of a fan of the first piece of shimaji (striped jack) (a little too bland) but I love the second piece of tako (octopus), served with sprinkles of sesame on top. It’s marinated with soy and slow cooked for the tender texture and a hint of smokiness. Following that was a small piece of kamasu (barracuda) as Kansai-style pressed sushi, with shiso and takuan (pickled daikon) sandwiched in between, giving it a somewhat complex flavor. It’s one of my favorite courses of the afternoon.

After that we moved back to a couple pieces of sawara (Spanish Mackeral) sashimi with chopped onions on top, and then a piece of unagi (freshwater eel) grilled and served with bamboo leaf. That was an interesting choice but Chef Yang came to explain to us that he wanted to serve this as per Japanese tradition of eating unagi during the hot summer. This piece of eel, sourced locally, was meaty and with a mild flavor, with just a slightest brush of the tare sauce, and probably spent more time steamed than grilled, judging from its soft texture.

We then moved on to the sushi courses with a few cooked dish served in between. There were a few I particularly enjoyed – including the chopped kama-toro (tuna back cheek), bafun-uni (sea urchin) served gunkan style, nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch), otoro (fatty tuna) served as three thin slices and anago (sea eel). Shari (the rice) was on the rich side and in slightly dark color, and chef explained to us that three different types of vinegar was mixed for its unique flavor – I think it worked great. Both grilled fish served as standalone dish were nice too, including the gintara (black cod) from Hokkaido and the thin piece of buri (wild yellowtail) done with a fatty and crispy skin.

Over the courses we had more than a fair share of sushi pieces served, and the rest included hirame (flounder), shiro-ebi (white shrimps) and ikura (salmon roes) We were satisfied with the portion being served. And they went well with a new-style junmai daiginjo from Nara’s Yucho Shuzo which was slightly effervescent and light - the bottle recommended to us by the chef. Actually the choice of serving Taiwanese tea instead of the Japanese sencha green tea was interesting too - the local Gaoshan Oolong tea with its milder flavor matched particularly well with some of the fatty fish served.

I think Sushi Ryu was well on par with the other high-end sushi restaurants we have visited in Taipei, and definitely worth a visit, especially if collecting Michelin stars is your thing.

More photos in my Flickr album:

When? August 7 2018
Where? Sushi Ryu, 60-5, Section 2, Xinsheng North Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei
鮨隆 台北市中山區新生北路二段60-5號
Menu Highlights? Kamasu Oshizushi
Drink? Kaze no Mori Petit Junmai Daiginjo - Yucho Shuzo, Nara Prefecture
風の森 Petit 純米大吟醸 無濾過生原酒 秋津穂50 - 奈良県 油長酒造
Web: (Michelin Guide)

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