We started on fresh palettes with a sampling of nigiri- hamachi, hotate, unagi, maguro that was all tender and resting atop tasty rice (bad rice is a show stopper for me…).
Aji tataki was the star of the evening. While tataki is sometimes construed as seared, it actually comes from the Japanese word tataku meaning to beat or hit. It refers to the chopping of the fish. This Aji was top-notch in taste and presentation. So much so, it warranted an iphone shot.
Small piles were positioned around the plate, each a different preparation. There were slices to be eaten as sashimi, chopped bits to be wrapped in accompanying shiso leaves and a dice mixed with ginger, scallions and sesame oil that was out of this world. Once finished, our waitress took the skewered carcass back to the kitchen, had it deep fried and chopped into sections. We ate the entire crispy, salty skeleton minus one eyeball and a tiny bit of head. Don’t grimace ‘till you’ve tried it.
We also sampled the seafood and vegetable tempura. The batter was spot on, but the pumpkin and sweet potato were sliced too thick and didn’t soften up adequately during fry time.
The nasu no shogayaki was perfectly reminiscent of the ginger-sauced sautéed eggplant we ate weekly in Japan.
Yakitori was a better-than-what-I’m-used-to representation of authentic Japanese chicken on a stick. But the cuts and pieces aren’t for the weak at heart; skinless, all-white breast meat was a minor player on the skewer.
I was excited by the willingness of our Japanese waitress to suffer patiently through my failing Japanese. She also took time to tell us about a recent trip to Japan that unfortunately had occurred a week before the cherry blossoms began to bloom.
I highly recommend checking out Ryu (which means dragon in Japanese) for the quality of the food and experience. One thing that was decidedly un-authentic is their lack of a beer and wine license. It’s BYOB until then or, if you luck out like we did, the bartender from a spot next door will stroll through with a few 6-packs tucked under her arm and hook you up, hoping that you’ll visit her for your ni-jikai (that’s Japanese for after party).
Ryu of Japan.11101 Burnet Road.(512) 973-9498