Why This Japanese Chef Is Being Awarded Ahead of Time

Nihonryori RyuGin's chef Seiji Yamamoto has been awarded the American Express Icon Award.
Wednesday 27 February 2019
Seiji Yamamoto knows just how to bring out the inherent taste of ingredients through delicate recipes. Photo: AFP/Relaxnews

Ahead of the gala event next month, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards announced the winner of their inaugural American Express Icon Award, launched to honour chefs worthy of international recognition and who have made an outstanding contribution to the restaurant industry over their career to date or in recent years.

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Yamamoto has been a regular on the international haute gastronomy circuit for his kaiseki restaurant Nihonryori RyuGin, where he produces masterful Japanese tasting menus that reflect the local seasonal ingredients. He has been praised by several international chefs including Ferran Adrià of the famed elBulli.

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Last summer, the chef relocated his flagship restaurant to Tokyo’s new Hibiya Midtown luxury development in a space three times the size of the original establishment.

Some of his specialities include the Japanese delicacy fugu, also known as deadly puffer fish, and Matsuba crab, which are served when in season. Nihonryori RyuGin also specialises in kaiseki dishes where sea eel is a key ingredient in one of the soups. Such is his dedication to his passion, Yamamoto is also famously known for sending an eel for a CT scan to better understand it’s anatomy and what would be the best way to cut it for this dish.

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“Japanese cuisine is a way of celebrating the richness of our culture and the beauty of our natural environment,” Yamamoto said in a statement. “I am very grateful that the members of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy have recognized my efforts and honoured me with this prestigious award. I will continue to innovate and introduce Japanese culture and culinary traditions to diners from around the world.”

Nihonryori RyuGin also holds three Michelin stars and is currently ranked ninth on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Yamamoto also expanded his reach in 2012 and 2014 when he opened restaurants in Hong Kong and Taipei – Tenku RyuGin and Shoun RyuGin respectively. Tenku RyuGin’s view is as stunning as the food they serve.

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Don’t miss out on the announcement of the Winners of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants at the gala event on 26 March in Macau. Last year’s No 1 was creative Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok, run by chef Gaggan Anand, which also made an appearance on Netflix’s Chef’s Table series.

Related: World’s 50 Best Restaurants Chooses Asia for the First Time