I've been to Ryugin 3 times.
In 2009, 2010, and 2012 -- 3 trips in a row.
The first two times were mindblowingly good.
The food, the service, the wine pairings, all amazing.
You can read a million reviews that will point out all the things we loved.
In 2010, the wine/sake pairings were particularly great. Takeo-san was the sommelier and we really struck up a rapport with him as well.
Last December, 2012, we returned again, and, well, it just was not the same.
First off, Takeo-san was gone. If I recall correctly, he moved to another city, possibly Osaka, possibly to work at a restaurant belonging to his family. Not sure. Does anybody know his current whereabouts? If he is back in Tokyo I would go to the place where he is working just for his pairings.
Second, and quite oddly, we were greeted by a European woman who was I think intended to take care of us. Really, in Japan, this is not what I want. With a few well placed questions about sake, we managed to get her swapped out for someone we preferred. But still, the wine/sake pairings were just nowhere near what they'd been.
Most importantly, of course, though, the food was not up to what we'd experienced before. Nothing mindblowing. At present I don't believe I can remember any of the courses, though I can recall things from prior visits quite well.
But also, it was a little odd. This time we seemed to be surrounded by foreigners there for anniverseries taking photos of their food. And somehow, it felt like maybe it was time to give the interior a makeover.
So, this upcoming trip time we are skipping it.
Does anybody else have related observations?
Did we just get an off night, or has something changed?
Mind you, when I travel half-way around the world and plunk down cash like that, even an off-night is kind of unacceptable. But I'm curious what others think.