The last time I wrote about Beverley’s high-end Japanese restaurant Ogino was after I visited on its second night of being open. Bypassing how obviously caddish it was of me to judge somewhere so recently opened, I found it generally very good with just a couple of wrinkles to iron out. On returning – almost a full five years later – I find that Ogino has matured into a truly excellent restaurant, run with confidence, consistency and flair.
To recap, Ogino is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Julian and Rieko Ogino-Stamford. Located on the first floor above some shops between Saturday and Wednesday markets in the centre of Beverley, they aim to create modern and traditional Japanese dishes incorporating as many local ingredients as possible. When I first visited I found the menu a little hard to navigate, mainly because there was little explanation of the dishes so diners had to wait for staff (usually Reiko) to talk you through the dishes. Even after you’d decided what to wanted, it was still hard to discern how much to order. All this has been sorted. The menu is more concise and clear and appetizing. There wasn’t an option that didn’t sound as good as the last.
After a couple of Japanese beers and nibbles of edamame and picked cucumber in soy, mirin, garlic, chilli bean and honey we had duck go-za (dumplings made with Leven duck served with chilli plum sauce and roasted miso garlic paste) and beef tataki, which is carpaccio beef fillet. I’m something of a dumpling junkie and these were as good as they come. Sometimes you eat a whole dumpling and then worry for a moment you’ve taken on too much but then you bite into the soft, crispy dough and the flavour of the meat bursts out then the savoury dip hits your palate and you don’t care that your mouth is over-stuffed you just have to start chomping on it and your shoulders drop because it’s so good and life feels perfect.
Amazingly, the tataki was possibly even better. Every carpaccio needs perfect meat and something to complement and enhance it. This had wonderfully tender British beef and the perfect balance of subtle, strong, sweet and savoury accompaniments in the form of mango and green chilli salsa, sweet soy, sesame oil, red onion and garlic chips. And it was beautifully presented. Folds of meat with ripples of thin onion, mounds of mango and dollops and dashes of pastes and thickened liquids. Just fabulous looking.
Ogino also offer superb sushi and sashimi. All made fresh in the kitchen and generously-portioned. We tried a few as a middle course and I can recommend the crunchy spider crab, gyu-maki (beef) and winter snow, which features tuna, salmon and snow crab. I’d also moved onto the sake by this point as well. A selection of three sakes for £10.50 allows the uninitiated (like me) to find the ones you like. Turns out I like most of them, though I preferred the sweeter seishu and ume.
A touch of theatre next as my main of half smoked kamo arrived under a cloche full of cherry wood smoke. After the inevitable ‘ooooh-ing’ as the cloche is removed and the smoke drifts across the table, you’re left with a perfectly-cooked local duck breast that has been marinated in yuzu kosho (a seasoning of yuzu citrus peel, chillies and salt) and served with a purple sweet potato croquette, crisp leek, pak choi and cherry and lime plum. It’s gorgeous.
The other main was hake, prawn and vegetable tempura. A selection of marvellously-sculpted, crisply-battered chunks of fish and veg served with ponzu jelly, green tea salt and a dashi dipping broth. It’s a great entry-level dish for those less-familiar with Japanese cuisine.
Despite now being full up, desserts of ringo (warm apple and caramel tart with green apple puree and sesame ice cream) and gateau chocolate and green tea mousse were too enticing to pass up. The gateau came with a green tea tuile, miso caramel ice cream and soy sauce honeycomb. I know! Soy sauce honeycomb! How could you not? Thank heavens both the plum wine and miso salted caramel ice creams had run out or I honestly don’t think I’d have ever left.
Ogino is expensive. Your could probably eat less than we did and try and do it on a budget but you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Save up and make it a (regular) treat. You’re going to need upwards of £110-ish to have the full slap-up, but it is honestly worth every penny. The ingredients are first class, the dishes are superbly thought through and the service and surroundings are both grand. I thought long and hard about faults and I really struggled to think of one. It’s simply a very, very good restaurant at the top of its game.
• Ogino, First Floor, Beaver House, Butcher Row, Beverley HU17 0AA. 01482 679500, ogino.co.uk. Ogino, Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 6–11.30pm; Saturday & Sunday lunch, 12-3pm.
DRINKS SELECTION 4/5