Restaurant review: Ogino, Beverley

Ogino is coming up to ten years old.

Ebi tempura dish. (Dave Lee).
Ebi tempura dish. (Dave Lee).

The self-styled modern Japanese restaurant in the middle of Beverley was opened by husband-and-wife team Julian and Rieko Stamford-Ogino as their first catering venture and proved an instant hit with the discerning diners of the East Riding.

The concept is to offer high-end Japanese dishes with the best local ingredients inveigled into the mix in order to show off the best of both cuisines. It’s not fusion, it’s just common sense.

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I always put Ogino on the list whenever someone asks me the best places to eat in the county. Yet, when I check, I find I haven’t actually visited for almost five years. Anything could have happened. It could have gone seriously downhill in my absence. I could be sending people to somewhere that’s gone off the boil. Clearly, if only to keep my recommendations up to date, it’s time to revisit and see how life is with Julian and Rieko.

Ushi beef dish. (Dave Lee).

Thankfully, little has changed. During the pandemic, they took time to rethink. Opening hours have been reduced and some redecoration has been done. Most noticeably, a wonderfully bright and colourful banner has appeared along the length of the ceiling showing typical Japanese imagery. It makes the room look bigger and provides an impressive centrepiece to the main dining space.

The food has changed slightly, but only for the better. It’s always a struggle choosing what to have at Ogino because there is literally nothing that doesn’t appeal. Everything is a must-try. You could eat here every week and find a different permutation of the menu for a couple of years before repeating yourself.

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After nibbles of edamame and wakame, we had ebi tempura; huge king prawns in a tempura batter served with an extraordinary dip of white miso and smoked aioli. The prawns alone would be good enough, but the dip is a proper sensation. Sweet and savoury and salty and quite remarkable. It’s the kind of thing you’d imagine going well with anything. A dip of infinite possibility.

Gyoza may be my favourite food. I could eat them until they came out of my ears. Ogino’s offering – with Yorkshire wild venison, Chinese leaf and garlic miso – is an imminent danger to my cochlear nucleus. The best gyoza I’ve ever had are pork and celery ones from a dumpling stall in Newcastle’s Grainger Market. I once almost ate their entire stock while hiding from a thunderstorm. I’d put Ogino’s venison version on the same level.

We can’t not have sushi, so we share a plate of gyu-maki. Ten big, fat, generous pieces that fill the mouth and batter the taste buds with fillet beef, asparagus tempura, mango, peppers, shredded onion and a teriyaki sauce. Light as a feather but so, so tasty.

At the same time, the sake tasting selection turns up. Three grades of sake served on a dish of ice. Nigori, seishu and ume, apparently. Nigori was the best. It’s the cloudy one and generally considered quite sweet. If I’m ever asked, I can confidently tell people I’m a nigori man from now on.

We continued our somewhat sacrilegious pattern of ordering mainly meat from a predominantly fish menu with mains of kamo and buta – duck and pork. The Leven duck came inside a cloche filled with cherry smoke. Lifting the cloche revealed not only an amazing smell but also duck breast marinated in yuzu kosho, sweet potato croquettes, a leek crisp, pak choi, red cabbage and cherry and plum wine puree. You don’t need telling how good it was, just read that list again.

The pork is from Yorkshire and served in a crispy filo basket with mushrooms and peppers, bamboo and garlic shoots, glass noodles, shallots, ginger and apple sauce. It was perfectly good but the second the cherry smoke wafted across the table and hit my nostrils, I wish I too had gone for the duck.

Puds are delicious, too. Triple chocolate and orange tart may not sound particularly Japanese but it comes with bittersweet green tea and pistachio ice cream and soy honeycomb.

And how about this for a real mixture of culinary cultures; warm vanilla-scented doughnuts with elderflower and plum wine infused strawberries, custard and red miso butterscotch sauce? It may sound like an experiment in cupboard emptying but it works undeniably well.

And so I can continue to recommend Ogino to all as one of my favourite places to eat in Yorkshire. The machine rolls on. Be warned, though, it is probably among the most expensive restaurants in the East Riding.

If eating at Ogino isn’t an occasional treat, I envy your disposable income. But every penny is money well spent. It’s all there on the plate. Seriously great ingredients utilised with authenticity and imagination and in a manner you’ll struggle to find the equal of elsewhere.

The food at Ogino is as unique as it is delicious. And there’s not many places you can say that of.

Ogino, 1st Floor, Beaver House, Butcher Row, Beverley HU17 0AA, tel: 01482 679500, www.ogino.co.uk. Open: Wednesday and Thursday, 6pm to late, Friday and Saturday, 5.30pm to late, Saturday and Sunday lunch, 12 to 3pm.