Months before Ronin was opened, chatters had been that Yardbird was opening a new joint in February and had eager foodies enquiring endlessly on its opening dates.
Quite the contrary to Yardbird’s glass windows, brightly lit interior and loud music and crowd, Ronin provides a much more private and relaxed dining experience. A random passerby would never stumble upon this, the grey exterior offers no clue to what’s behind the closed door. Tucked in the quiet lane off Gough Street is the 14 seater private kitchen-like Izakaya opened by the brains behind Yardbird. It has 12 person standing capacity and gets filled up pretty quickly so be sure to make your booking in advance, and definitely ask for the seats in front of the bar so you won’t be eating facing the wall.
Instead of focusing on chicken like Yardbird does, Ronin is all about seafood, local fresh catch as well as daily flown-ins make up their daily revised menu. The one sheet food menu even has today’s date stamped on it! **hot off the press** Items on the menu depends on what Chef Matt finds in the local wet market that particular day and of course what was flown in the night before. Matt explains that he likes going to the local market and getting what’s fresh and what’s in season and do a new spin on it.
Of course it won’t be an izakaya without the alcohol, the bar has an impressive display of large variety of whiskey, beer and shochu including some rare finds from even distilleries that aren’t around anymore.
A and I were starving by the time dinner starts, the only available slot was 7:45pm and even though it’s way over our usual dinner time, we thought we should check it out before it becomes impossible to get a seat at this sure to be the next hottest joint in town. We ordered a bunch of dishes, from both the “cold” and “hot” section, “cold” being mostly sashimi and “hot” are typically fresh catch or seasonal items. While waiting for our food to arrive, Matt handed us our welcome bites. Matt is so friendly and nice!! He was serving us food and explaining to us what’s in each dish and answering my endless questions with a big smile the whole night! =)
Welcome bite: Bamboo shoot marinated with orange and olive oil. I quite like the fresh take on marinating the bamboo shoot with orange and olive oil, it was crunchy and refreshing.
The Ebisu Rock Oysters were very fresh, usually oysters are eaten with overdose of condiments. This dish was just seaweed and oysters; you could taste a hint of salt and that’s it, simple yet so fresh and good
Uni Nori– Uni was rich and smooth with subtle flavors of the sea and when eaten with the seasoned breadcrumbs and nori (seaweed) adds different texture and flavor. As A said, she’s had better uni (just the uni on its own) before but this is definitely an interesting and pleasant spin on the usual uni experience
Akagai Clam Sashimi– comes in a pretty little container which has ice in the secret compartment. The clam was fresh and served with cucumber
Geoduck Clam– different from the usual big geoduck clam that are crunchy, this geoduck clam is smaller and has a squid like texture to it. I like how it’s firm, kinda chewy but not rubbery, a contrast to the crunchy chopped vegetables and the yuzu peel was definitely a nice touch =)
Me: “ wait a sec, did you taste orange peel?”
A: “what orange peel” (-_-“)
Chef Matt walks by, “Close, it’s yuzu peel” **smiles**
Baby cuttlefish, red Shiso– this dish was mostly untouched, not coz it wasn’t good, we wish it was indicated on the menu as “fried cuttlefish” then we wouldn’t have ordered it. I can’t eat fried food and A doesn’t want to touch fried food so …sorry baby cuttlefish…
Silver fish, kimchi vinegar almond– another dish that’s fried **sad** silver fish was also banished to the corner along with baby cuttlefish
Tokyo Turnips, Clams– who would have thought I love turnips this much? Actually I don’t believe I’ve ever ordered turnips, like probably in my whole life. I was pretty full at this point and A was about to cancel this last dish but I thought I want to give it a try and I LOVED IT! The turnips was juicy and the natural sweetness comes out subtly with each bite, that with the bacon bits, the chewy (when I say chewy it just means springy, firm and not tough nor rubbery) clams and the chili mixed with vegetables. I actually finished the whole dish on my own.
A asked for dessert but unfortunately they don’t really have dessert on the menu yet (I was about to cry at this point), so we asked for the bill instead. Overall, it was a lovely dining experience, the crew was friendly and helpful (especially Chef Matt, in fact, he showed me how to take this panoramic picture of Ronin’s bar on A’s iphone!), food was fresh and great, the ambience relaxed and intimate (with reggae music in the background). Will definitely be back since the menu is different everyday! =)
8 On Wo Lane, Sheung Wan
Open 6pm-2am and closed Sundays