Far East Meets Middle East at RYU.

Enjoy the fusion of food and decorative interior at a little place whose name means ‘dragon’.

July 30, 2010 15:40
3 minute read.
The Smiling Car at the art exhibit Senseware exhibition.

Dim Sum311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

While many Israeli-Asian eateries still limit themselves to soy and sweet chili sauces, or maybe the occasional spicy mayo, RYU, nestled in Jerusalem’s German Colony, stretches itself beyond the typical, and even the traditional.

Executive Chef Ofer Yakir envisioned an eating space where classical elements of East Asian cuisine blended seamlessly with the wealth of fresh, local ingredients found in the shuk and Mediterranean marketplaces.

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This dream is rather artfully achieved both on the plate and palate, as notes of Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and the Mediterranean complement each other with delicacy and vigor.

Italian-inspired Israeli cuisine
High Marks

Eager to spread our culinary horizons, my dining companion and I began with the Dragon’s Fire sushi roll (52 NIS) and the Beef and Plum Dim Sum (31 NIS). The Dragon Fire roll is a mélange of tuna, yellow snapper and salmon, with hints of cucumber, green onion, and a topping of salmon roe. Though tasty, the roll is fairly one-note texturally; the East-West sauce, however, provides a sweet tangy accompaniment.

Dim sum is a rarity in Israel, and RYU’s succeeds in presenting three perfectly-steamed dumplings with a delicious lemon-accented variation on traditional ponzu sauce.

While the beef and plum filling was not particularly Asian-flavored, with only a touch of star anise, the overall dish was enjoyable.

Our appetites whetted, we moved onto our entrées. The expansive menu provides myriad styles and flavor combinations, and it was only after much deliberation that we chose the following dishes: the Veggie Veggie sushi roll (35 NIS), Sweet Organic Eggplant (64 NIS) and Chicken Pad Thai ( NIS 54). Simply put, RYU’s entrees shine. The Veggie Veggie roll was stand-out – a delightful twist of flavors and textures, with almonds lending a superb crunch to balance out the sweet smoothness of sweet potato and tofu. As far as a vegan option, this roll is filling and flavorful, with the shitake mushrooms adding a richness that does not leave one longing for fish.

Adorned with a freckling of sumac, the eggplant dish arrived fragrant and enticing. To date, it was the truest Chinese food I’ve tasted in Israel, yielding complex flavors in a tasty sauce over eggplant, beef cubes, and Portobello mushrooms and almonds.

This plate will certainly satisfy any craving for the type of Chinese food popular outside of China; it practically begs for a Christmas Eve dinner reservation. And bring friends; the portions here beg to be shared.

RYU’s Pad Thai, arguably the most totemic of all Thai dishes, comes through in a city where it too often misses the mark. The noodles were chewy without being undercooked, and the chicken was marinated, juicy, and tender. It was the most classic dish we sampled, simple, without fanfare save for the smattering of crushed peanuts on top.

Though it initially paled in comparison to the other two entrees, we found ourselves nibbling at it longer, even after we had officially declared ourselves too stuffed to continue.

But continue we did, into a dessert course that was truly worth every bite. Warm molten chocolate cake, partnered with a generous scoop of house-churned coconut ice cream (32 NIS) left us sated and nearly licking the plate. And a beautiful plate it was, artfully painted with raspberry and ginger sauces, which were almost too beautiful to drag warm dripping spoonfuls of chocolate cake through. Almost.

RYU, Emek Refaim 25, (02) 561- 1344. Sun.-Thurs., noon to midnight.
Open Sat. from one hour after Shabbat until 1 a.m. Summer hours may change.
Kosher. www.ryu.rest-e.co.il
Delivery option (+NIS 5) 1-800-304- 344.

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