The best meals we’ve had often take us by surprise and come with minimal pretence. We hadn’t heard much about Ryota Kappou Modern before stepping into the stylishly modern space that shares the same street address as culinary greats like Arcane. Owned by Louie Shum, a renowned Hong Kong interior designer, the restaurant was an anniversary gift to his wife, with the couple sharing a passion for refined Japanese cuisine.
The restaurant’s namesake rests on Chef Ryota Kanesawa, who hails from a family of chefs in Osaka. He worked in prestigious kitchens in Europe and Japan before arriving in Hong Kong as Head Sushi Chef at Zuma. Most recently, he cheffed at two-Michelin-starred Tenku RyuGin before his move to headlining Ryota Kappou Modern.
Our premium tasting menu (from $2,080/person) featured jet-fresh seasonal ingredients from Japan and France, and the menu is forever evolving to accommodate the variety of produce on offer. Almost too pretty to eat, the foie gras and raspberry rice wafer was a delicate balance of flavours, with the rich, velvety goose liver undercut by the tartness of the red fruit and aged mirin. Tiny dots of pistachio and shiso flowers made this little patch of heaven look like an edible garden.
A showpiece dish thanks to the majestic king crab perched on top of the bowl, the matsuba crab chawanmushi was silky smooth and full of succulent crabmeat. The sweetness of the lotus bulbs paired well with the creamy egg and natural sweetness of the seafood.
The wakame hamaguri clam soup with fresh mountain vegetables had layers of umami flavour yet remained incredibly light. Each piece of juicy clam was rolled in rice flour to give it a chewy texture.
From top right clockwise: fried squid with rice flour, seagrass with abalone, seared sea bass
A trio of small bites ranging from lightly seared sea bass, to fried squid coated with rice flour, to slippery and vinegary seagrass with abalone arrived next. The aburi (sea bass) was melt-in-the-mouth tender, while the texture of the squid alongside the aromatic rice flour batter reminded us of mochi. The sweet and tart seagrass added contrast to the trio.
The Bowl of Wonder definitely inspired awe with its trio of raw sashimi – squid, Hokkaido sea urchin and A4 Wagyu – and a dollop of caviar.
Kinmedai (golden-eye snapper) is one of our favourite fish, and the seared kinmedai with spring daikon did not disappoint. The fish flaked away in fat, buttery slivers underneath slightly sticky, charred skin. The daikon was fork-tender and soaked up the umami essence of the clam soup in which it had been stewed.
The signature chargrilled Challans duck was perfectly cooked to a blushing rose and came alongside a rich ponzu sauce paired with mushroom, fern, broccoli and bamboo. The charred candied yuzu added even more flavour and freshness to the duck.
A very pretty palate cleanser, the Japanese fruit tomato cocktail is a blend of tomato water, sugared tomato jelly, basil seeds, olive oil and shiso flowers. This was uplifting and refreshingly aromatic.
Made to order depending on the size of the party, the Hokkaido abalone and uni rice is steamed within an earthen pot and then decanted into each bowl. We’re not big fans of abalone, but Ryota Kappou’s version was delicate in flavour and deliciously tender.
Dessert was a two-part act. Homemade vanilla ice cream topped with a gold-flaked Japanese cherry and sprinkled with puffed rice was given an extra swish of magic with sweet mirin, poured tableside over the top. A crisp and surprisingly light spring roll filled with red bean and Japanese strawberries added to the sweet finish.
Hands down, one of the best meals we’ve had thus far this year. Not knowing what to expect, we were completely blindsided by the high-quality, imaginative menu of Chef Kanesawa. This is definitely a tasting menu for a special occasion, but oh what a marvellous celebration it is.
21/F, 18 On Lan Street, LKF, Central, 2628 1899, book online
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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