RURI Kaiseki Ryori restaurant, Chengdu, China

RURI Kaiseki Ryori is a traditional Japanese restaurant located on the third floor of an office sky scraper in the middle of Chengdu’s high-tech district. Although the idea sounds like a recipe for failure, the end result is surprisingly magical. An elegant mix of traditional and modern, the 660 square-metre (7,105 sq. ft) restaurant is an environment all of its own with a completely different atmosphere and décor from the rest of the 58-floor office tower.

Team members Deguchi Tsutomu, Okamoto Keizo, Fang Xueni and Di Junwei of the award-winning Beijing-based  architecture and design firm Okamoto Deguchi Design were retained for the project by restaurant management company Daciqihui F&B management Ltd.

The building, one of 12 towers in the Tianfu International Financial Centre that includes many of the city’s tallest buildings zone, has an oval footprint. This oval shape defines the floorplan of the restaurant that occupies the entire third floor. A series of 10 private rooms of various sizes ring the perimeter of the oval with paths of rough slate leading from room to room. Darkness and light play off each other and create a sense of discovery from area to area.

Stone, pebbles, sand and bamboo are prominently used and the designers tell The Cool Hunter that these materials express the nature of the mountainous Sichuan Province. “Sand stands for water, while stone stands for mountain, and is decorated with moss. Along the path, the dry landscape garden shuttles between the front hall, the cooking area and the private rooms. Guests can experience different scenery along the path.”

To enhance the atmosphere of each room the designers have carefully curated a selection of bonsai trees, artworks and artifacts. The masterful lighting program, designed by Lighting Planners Associates, creates drama and highlights the feel that each meal is an experience, a performance, not just a meal.

Japanese paper and metal mesh partitions add to the overall sense of privacy but also openness. From nearly every space, diners have a view to another space, yet each can be completely isolated with partitions and screens.

Kaiseki Ryori is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal served at ryokans and high-end restaurants. It is usually a luxurious meal for special occasions that includes not only the elaborate presentation of the multitude of dishes and elegant tableware but also the tranquil setting and exquisite service. In some explanations, Kaiseki cuisine is a dinner before the tea ceremony.  Tuija Seipell

Images by Ruijing Photo: Misae Hiromats and Song Yuming

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