Ex-3 Michelin (2020) starred fusion restaurant in Osaka
At the time of my visit this restaurant was graded as a 3 Michelin starred restaurant but, in a follow-up, it lost a star in the 2020 guide two months later. Frequent readers of mine will know that I have no qualms in saying whether I believe Michelin are pitching too high or low on a verdict, but in this case I very much agree that this experience did not merit the ultimate accolade, certainly nowhere near the comparison to Kitcho or Mizai and sadly, I actually questioned whether the 2 stars was generous. The £181 for one (with sake) dinner price tag was more digestible than most high-end Kaseiki restaurants in Japan and although it was a good experience to explore Osaka, there were not enough high-end moments to making me want to leap back for a return visit here. You could do a lot worse of course and this would serve as a useful ‘beginner’ Kaiseki venue.
In 2020 the Michelin guide pronounced three 3 Michelin starred restaurants within Osaka (Hajime, Taian and Kashiwaya). Koryu now slips into the 2 Michelin starred family of which, there are an impressive 15 restaurants of this category in Osaka alone. This restaurant is run by head chef Shintaro Matsuo who was friendly but could not engage too much with diners owing to the language barrier. What was a nice touch was his staff members running around the restaurant showing pictures of the fish and produce all were eating on an iPad and explaining where possible.
Before all diners received their appetisers, several large shrimps heads were placed on a grill to gently cook the brains. Bonito with aubergine and roe sauce was our first bite (the same menu given to all diners at the same time) and this was a pleasurable snack. Tofu with pinko nuts had a lovely paste with it all.
The sashimi platter was beautifully presented and included yellowfin with egg yolk, herring, squid with plum sauce, beef noodle, snapper and shrimp and purified saltwater. The squid was lovely with plum sauce but texturally was quite hard and not as massaged as it was in Mizai (bit hard in comparison) by a long shot. The tuna with slow-cooked egg yolk, wasabi and soy was one of the rare stunning moments of this though.
The soup contained grouper and matsutake mushrooms (very chewy but with a strong mushroom aroma). The grouper was juicy and fragrant. Crab with vinegar jelly, shiitake mushroom and berries was wonderful – a light sweetness to the jelly with beautifully smoked mushroom and very well done.
Kiki fish (from the gold family with huge eyes) and sea urchin was a disaster. The skin which you are supposed to eat had the texture of hard cartilage, the fish itself and stock were only traceable and the butternut squash was hardly noticeable. Perhaps this is a Japanese delicacy but I could see another couple of diners shrug away from their serving and not say anything at this dish – really and truly this was not my thing at all and I struggle to see why this would be enjoyable eating for anyone.
Salmon roe with yuzu sorbet and chrysanthemum just didn’t really work very well for me. The slimy texture of the cold roe and cold of the sorbet dish seemed an entirely odd combination. The shrimp brains that we were invited to suck out of the head were salty and had a reasonable aroma of crustacean. Slow-cooked Miyazaki beef (from the fabled black wagyu) with fig and soy sauce was as lovely as one can expect. Porridge and snapper and pickles and Japanese hot tea was regrettably not as memorable regrettably.
Pear flavoured with rum with honey foam, grape and chestnut paste was a lovely collection of fresh fruit to have and strangely the dish was enhanced by the chestnut paste owing to the fruit being not quite at the explosive levels that can be found at say, Kondo, Kitcho or Nanchome Kyoboshi.
So sadly this was not the experience I was hoping for, but the service was very hospitable. As a diner, you only had to gain eye contact with any of the floor staff and they would practically run over for you in complete concern. Something that is not really the norm in the UK for example.
A pleasant experience with some very good produce for an authentic Japanese meal, but not one of the best.
Food Grade: 71%
Location (Click google logo for directions)