(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
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
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.RELATED:Italian-inspired Israeli cuisineHigh 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
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
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
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
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.
Delivery option (+NIS 5) 1-800-304- 344.