Shake Things Up for Valentine's Day With Ruka's Elaborate, Group-Friendly Dining
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Valentine’s Day seems to attract two main categories of diners. There are those who dive in full force, setting up lavish reservations for their sweethearts and wining and dining the night away. Others vote decidedly against that, opting instead for an ‘Anti-Valentine’s Day’ meal, whether that be in the vestiges of their own kitchens or at any of the now-numerous restaurants that provide curated Anti-Valentine’s Day menus.
But there’s also a third option: the double-date V-Day meal. Enjoy the company of your significant other while indulging in friendship at the same time. The Godfrey Hotel’s newest and much anticipated restaurant concept, Ruka, offers the perfect solution.
The Godfrey Hotel, which just celebrated its first anniversary with burlesque dancers, contortionists, coffee cocktails by George Howell himself, and a Japanese whiskey tasting at Ruka, is home to one of Downtown Crossings’ hottest new restaurants.
A Chihuly-esque, blown-glass chandelier greets you and colorfully exotic décor surrounds you beyond the host desk; Ruka presents all the opportunity for adventure you could possibly hope for.
Contrasting with The Godfrey’s modern yet historically significant interior (amid the contemporary vibe, they have built around a stairwell that dates back to the building’s original architecture in 1904), Ruka is all new. Flashy but enticing, all the varnished-wood tables are topped with a tiny terrarium.
The cocktails mimic this bold style with some served in flower pots while others show up in fresh coconuts — perfect for sharing. Similar to sister restaurant Yvonne’s, Ruka imbues a sexy quality spanning all parts of the menu.
Moving on to the food, Ruka’s menu is designed for a group of three or more. Dishes are organized based on preparation. We choose a selection of maki and sushi rolls. The top winner is without a doubt the “fuego wagyu.” Just like it sounds, the roll comes wrapped in wagyu and cooked by a live flame that just barely goes out by the time you reach out with your chopsticks. Other fan favorites are the hamachi roll with a hint of spice in its jalapeño-corn sauce.
Raw and ceviche fish dishes are next, the salmon tacos come three to an order, and the thick salmon chunks are nestled between a tempura-fried seaweed leaf. Tuna poke in miso-coconut dressing with avocado and cucumber is another fabulous option and this dish is encouragingly large enough to share among four people.
The “Hot + Wok” section boasts noodle dishes, fried rice, and other fried dishes. The fried rice in particular is worth a taste as is the fried calamari. Octopus lomo saltado is just as it sounds — succulent and salty.
The large-format dishes, however, are without a doubt where the kitchen is allowed to truly shine. The whole crispy Japanese butter fish, as well as the tea-smoked array of Long Island duck breast, both seared and served confit-style with pickled vegetables and steamy boa buns, are fantastic options for the table. Order one of these and combine it with a few smaller dishes and you have a perfectly curated meal — a feast for the tummy and the eyes alike.
Ruka is refreshingly unafraid to put the utmost attention and effort into presentation. In fact, this is so much so that some dishes are not available for room service — it would be a disservice to the vision. Kudos.
Be sure to pace yourself through the tantalizing menu, as the desserts are interesting enough to save room for. The “Big Fish” is the immediate crowd-pleaser. A large fish-shaped waffle comes with its mouth open and stuffed with raspberry sorbet, brownie chunks, hazelnuts, and sweet cream ice cream. It sounds like a lot, and it is. If nothing else, Ruka’s menu items can seem like it has a lot going on. While true, at least it is intentional. Ruka can be a fun departure from other more minimalist menus out there.
Because of the way the menu is set up and designed, these drinks and dishes, and in fact, the production as a whole, is perfect for a group. Consider shaking things up this Valentine’s Day and heading to Ruka — there’s a party going on!