Ryu of Japan (sush restaurant) - a review
We went to Ryu of Japan on Burnet near Kramer, in the same shopping center as Freebirds.
Food - really, really good
Atmosphere - industrial and a little cold
Service - well-meaning, but a little inconsistent
First of all, let me start out by saying I have been eating sushi around town for a number of years, but I certainly do not classify myself as an expert.
When we arrived at 6:30 on a Saturday night, we were the only customers. Our waiter, who did not seem to speak a lot of English, brought water and green tea - I liked the way he just assumed I was in a Japanese restaurant and I would want green tea, nice.
I'm not sure if we were getting the star treatment, but the sushi chef brought over a couple of complimentary items from kitchen: two homemade shrimp dumplings and a bowl with fresh crab pieces and some picked red cabbage. Both items were fresh and full of flavor. A good start.....
We ordered 2-3 rolls and 6 pieces of sushi. The yellowtail was extremely tender and had a soft-buttery consistency. All of the fish was first rate - very flavorful, fresh and tender. The chef sent over a complimentary Godzilla roll which is basically a spicy tuna roll topped with a miso sauce and tempura flakes, which was also very good.
I'm sure they serve vegetarian nigiri in other sushi restaurants in town, but I've never noticed it. At Ryu, I ordered a seaweed and a pumpkin nigiri. I was not disappointed, the seaweed had terrific vinegary crunch and the pumpkin was tender and sweet. Unusual, but tasty.
The atmosphere was a little cold, but that was probably due to the fact we were the only customers for most of the meal. A large flat panel TV dominates the area near the sushi bar, but they seemed to have the TV tuned to a classic rock radio channel so there really wasn't any distracting picture on the screen.
The service was well-meaning, but not professional and that's ok, because I think you go to Ryu for the food.
Oh yea, I thought the prices were extremely reasonable for food of this quality. If you enjoy sushi, I think you are really going to like this place. If you are looking for a high-class dining experience you might want to wait a month or two.
I took my wife for lunch on our Thursday lunch date.
Let me start with the food ... I ordered Katsu Curry ... it was oishii and hot ( temp ) as I like it.
Now for the other stuff ... I tend to agree with nw_austin_gourmand. The place needs to add some spunk. Mainly , for lunch , they need to speed it up some as people have limited time. Maybe some background music would help. Or even some smiles ....
The wait staff reminded me of being back in Japan and being the gaigin ... it was like they were pretending to be Japanese but I think they were locals.
I'm going to have to think about it regarding a second visit. I hope they do Ok, maybe it was just an off day.
People should really start trying this place. I find myself going back pretty often now. There isn't a lot of creative rolls but there is a lot of good traditional Japanese food both cooked and raw.
Of the cooked items, I'm a fan of the yellowtail collar (kama) and the Saba Shio, Mackerel grilled with salt. The mackerel used here is incredibly fresh Japanese mackerel.
This is a very good restaurant if you like nigiri as all of the pieces are priced very well and very fresh. 3.75 for 2 pieces of sweet shrimp with fried heads is just unheard of . Most of the standard fishes such as tuna, salmon, yellowtail are like $3 to $4 for 2 pieces which is also very affordable. Toro I believe was $10 for 2 pieces which is also much lower than what most places charge for toro.
i've been twice so far and i'm not terribly impressed.
i find that their cooked items are best (age dashi tofu, yellowtail collar .... must try the Saba Shio).
as for the nigiri and sashimi ... they are usually "out" of my favorites or the higher end ones i want to try. the fish is certainly not bad -- but it is bland and waterlogged in taste and texture.
the staff is really nice and friendly and are trying hard. but it's just not the quality i've come to be spoiled by.
i will likely return one more time to try again, but if my impression stays the same i'm likely not to bother any further.