Ryuma Restaurant

Yesterday, I accompanied a friend to a meeting in Tagaytay. We drove through McDonald’s for breakfast, stopped by Sonia’s Garden so that he could buy their famous Spanish Bread, then ended the day in Makati by watching The Hobbit. But in between Tagaytay and Makati, he took me to a den of pitch in the middle of Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Ruyma Restaurant is located on the 2nd Floor of Paseo de Rosa in Greenfield City, one of those strip malls that seem to be popping up everywhere in the South. Aside from a restaurant, Ryuma is also the name of a Japanese grocery store and baby clothes shop (that also sells the type ladies’ clothes that will end up giving them babies), all of them on the same floor.

The restaurant is part toy store, part home shop, and part museum. Museum to what? I’m not sure. Stuffed toys and toy dispensers line the entrance, a makeshift doorway into the white leather couches and formica topped tables that lie beyond. Aside from toys (all of which are for sale), the restaurant’s decorations include glass decanters (also for sale), a full suit of Japanese armor, a juke box and a dance floor. Top all these with Christmas decorations, and you have one confused eating place. This actually works to its advantage, giving the restaurant a weird kind of split-personality charm that only a Japanese restaurant can pull off. And they also have place mats that look like this:

How can you not want to eat at a restaurant with a giant flying turtle in the middle of its placemat?
How can you not want to eat at a restaurant with a giant flying turtle in the middle of its placemat?

We haven’t even gotten to the food yet. The restaurant features an extensive menu of Japanese dishes, plus set meals at fairly reasonable prices.

I settled on the Tofu Steak Teppanyaki while my friend ordered the Seafoods (sic) Curry.

The Tofu Steak Teppanyaki consists of batter-coated blocks of tofu served teppanyaki style with three kinds of fresh mushrooms and a lovely, sweet-umami sauce with the flavor of margarine running underneath that adds richness and binds everything together, tastewise. Even my friend, who won’t eat non-meat dishes if he can help it, admitted that it was tasty.

The Seafoods Curry is shrimp, fish, and octopus cooked in Japanese curry sauce and served with a generous amount of rice and shredded cabbage, with raw garlic and chilies on the side, just in case you think it isn’t hot enough.

We were further entertained by a group of diners whose conversation was dominated by a woman who lectured about subjects as eclectic as the Mayan end of the world to self-help buzzwords such as “FOCUS – Follow one course until success,” which became our Quote of the Day (and should be yours, too). We didn’t have to talk. The menu, ambiance, and fellow diners were entertainment enough.

Sta. Rosa is quite a ways to go for decent Japanese food, but if you’re in the area, Ryuma is worth checking out. I know I’m going to be back because I’ve only tried two dishes out of, oh, lots, and if my enjoyment of the curry and tofu steak are any indication, the others are going to be pretty tasty as well.



Yvette Natalie U. Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and the Agriculture section editor of Manila Bulletin.

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