In upmarket Ginza, Renge occupies a small, unassuming space on the ninth floor: an open kitchen, counter seating and a few small tables. What’s not basic here is the food – perhaps just as Hidetoshi Nishioka intended, for his Shanghai-influenced tasting menu truly takes centre stage.
Chef Nishioka has had an eclectic career, starting as a Japanese pastry chef before working in Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese restaurants. But it is Chinese cuisine that he has mastered: the dishes at Renge divert confidently from Shanghai orthodoxy, with Nishioka’s diverse background evident on the plate.
Only open for dinner, Renge offers a tasting menu of around 12 courses. Starting with a plate of small morsels such as cold-cut chicken with pungent chilli oil, Chinese soft shell turtle jelly, okra and jellyfish salad, pickled black marlin, and fig and walnut soaked in rice wine, it’s a journey through contrasting flavours and textures. You can also look forward to yum cha, seasonal vegetables, Renge’s ‘signature soup’ – a consommé of high-grade Jinhua ham – fish, meat, fried rice or Shanghai noodles and, to finish, not one but two desserts.