Haute Japanese cuisine
Looking for a change from the
usual rowdy banter of izakaya? Had enough of slumming it with bog-standard
Renya offers an alternative dining experience, nouvelle Japanese
cuisine. Are you already scrunching your nose up at images of tiny
portions of eye-catching food decorated to perfection on oversized
plates? Well, you'd be right about the creative beauty of it all,
but get rid of the idea that nouvelle cuisine will just leave you
craving a Big Mac at the end of dinner.
Situated just West of Midosuji (turn left after OPA), Renya is
an elegant, unique establishment that you may be forgiven for strolling
straight past without a second glance; it's almost hidden!
But once you stick your head around the door, you'll be absorbed
in the tranquility and class, which is summed up by the mini Japanese
garden with a prominent lotus flower theme leading to a board announcing
those customers with reservations (a nice touch if you're hoping
to impress your date!).
Once inside and your name is called, you will be led to your table
by a member of staff — all of whom are aptly dressed in traditional
Japanese kimono. Depending on where your table is, you may want
to do a Hansel and Gretel re-make and drop some crumbs on the floor
to ensure your safe return from the toilet — this place is
If you're seated downstairs in the central part of the restaurant,
you'll only see the half of it, but that's not to say you've been
The central section is perfect for small groups and buzzes with
the fancy surroundings ... floor-to-ceiling mirrors, modern-day
chandeliers and a recurring ornamental lotus theme. For larger groups
or those couples craving a more intimate atmosphere, there are private
rooms upstairs. Here you'll also have a chance to see a few of the
chefs at work, which is always a sign of good, honest taste.
that ubiquitous lotus: it is the only plant known to fruit and flower
simultaneously and symbolizes the manifestation of the Universal
Buddha Nature, representing the pure, natural essence of the individual.
So onto more material subjects: the menu, and what's hot and what's
not? Well, it may not all be hot, but I'm only talking temperatures
here! You'll be hard-pushed to justly criticize this fine array
of Euro-Asian dishes. Despite Renya being an obvious cut above regular
izakaya or Western restaurants, it does offer something for everyone
(eg, spaghetti, salads, sashimi, sushi and lots of other food not
beginning with the letter s), but it is the attention to detail
that makes dining here a new experience. The chopsticks tied with
bamboo leaves, the pieces of fruit, flowers and leaves decoratively
placed among the food, the sauce droplets and herb sprinklings measured
to precision, even the crockery itself exudes sophistication.
menu is extensive (an English version is available upon request)
and most dishes are priced around ¥600 to ¥800, and beers,
wines, and cocktails are priced at around ¥500. Nouvelle cuisine
is famed for its beauty as opposed to its quantity, but Renya may
just reshape your opinion of the French culinary invention. Once
you've passed the "It's just too good to eat" part, these
dishes are surprisingly filling. Maybe it's the philosophy that
less is actually more.
Set menus are available, but for a good variety of dishes (and
just a chance to see the full menu), keep your options open. Reservations
are recommended, especially on weekends and for the record, Renya
also has restaurants in Kyobashi, Takatsuki and Fukushima and regularly
advertises in Hot Pepper magazine. So is it just a matter of time
before you join the haute cuisine elite and introduce your taste
buds to some fine art? Not so much "When will you...?",
but rather "Ren will ya?"
Open: Lunch 11:30-15:00, Dinner 17:00-24:00 (23:00 on Sun &