Modern Izakaya: If you’re already a fan of sister projects Yardbird and Sunday’s Grocery, then you will love Ronin. The Japanese restaurant is hidden behind an unmarked door off Gough Street, and it just gets cooler from there.
Look & Feel: Behind a heavy gray door is a long, narrow restaurant with a standing area on the right and leather stools against another bar on the left. The interiors mix together rich leather, a sophisticated gray palette and earthenware plates.
Meet the Chef: Matt Abergel is behind the daily menus, which are based off of whatever he finds in the local market that day.
On the Menu: The menu changes literally every day so it’s hard to say what you’ll find. It’s safe to expect a few things, albeit with varying details — think oysters ($42 each), a sashimi platter ($260) and a list of over over 100 Japanese whiskies, some of which are no longer produced in Japan or are otherwise esoteric. You can also opt for a 12-course tasting menu for $980 per person.
Service: Attentive and thoughtful, although at first we feel like our server is upselling us a bit. But we get over it when we see her recommendations are spot on. Major props to the badass bartender who makes some of the best Old Fashioneds in Hong Kong and knows the long list of whiskies, shochu, sakes and wines inside and out.
Jeng: We have only heard good things about this seafood-centric Japanese menu. We arrive with lofty expectations and are not let down in the least. It’s the kind of place where, even if you can’t recognize a single ingredient on the menu (like WTF is itoyori? Sanroku?), it just doesn’t matter because everything is going to be good. The mysterious grilled itoyori ($150) turns out to be a standout, tender and full of tomato flavor, as does the omakase beef ($380), a delicious mix of marbled raw beef, fried garlic, shiitake mushrooms, onions and drippy egg.
Not So Jeng: There are two seatings, so you have from 6:30pm to 8:30pm to enjoy your leather stool, by which time you’re asked to move to the standing area. Our beef: 6:30 is a bit early to start for most, and 8:30 is late on a weeknight. The close quarters mean you will eavesdrop on your neighbor’s conversation, whether you want to or not.
Great For: Date nights, small groups, solo dining.
FYI: You can make reservations up to two weeks in advance. The restaurant doesn’t serve dessert, but you can BYOD at no charge.
This writeup was based on an independent tasting. The Loop doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.