A few months ago, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet attracted so many shoppers that widespread traffic jams occurred, and traffic attendants had to direct incoming cars into free parking spaces to relieve some of the congestion. However, during my visit last week, the outlet had about as much life as the airport does at midnight. The gloomy jazz music on the speakers did not exactly help. There were many discounts in the clothing stores, but since I was only here for the sushi (who needs clothes when there's sushi?), I stepped into Ryuu Japanese Kitchen hoping there would be discounts as well.
Suffice to say, my hopes were a little crushed when I saw the high prices on the menu. However, my biggest disappointment was that the menu was not the menu that was posted online. There was no Aburi sushi, no oshizushi, and no Chef's Daily Special Lunch set on the menu I was given. As a last resort, I asked one of the servers if they served Aburi sushi as a special, but she just gave me a very confused look. My dreams were crushed at that very moment. How could they do this to me?
(menu - click to enlarge)
The choices in terms of special rolls were very limited, and they even considered the Dynamite Roll a special roll. With not much to pick from, I went for the Beef Bento and the pricey $15 Dragon Roll. The nigiri was so expensive that I decided not to order any until I was assured of the quality of the food. Come on, $3 for a piece of Hokkigai Nigiri? Strangely enough, the labelling on the chopstick wrapper suggested that Ryuu Japanese Kitchen and Neptune Wonton Noodle are part of the same restaurant group. I remember Neptune Wonton Noodle being fairly priced.
Miso Soup - B-
First to arrive was the Miso Soup from the Beef Bento, which came with seaweed, tofu, and green onion. The Miso Soup was lacking in flavour and tasted more like a light broth than miso soup. Uh oh...
This is the rest of the Beef Bento. The items looked standard fare and fell short of my expectations considering the $15 price tag.
Salad - B-
The Salad came with some mixed greens and a slice of tomato. I liked how the Salad was dressed with Goma-ae peanut sauce for a change, but the dressing was uneven and insufficient. Parts of the salad felt very dry.
Assorted Tempura - B
The Assorted Tempura, with two prawns and one piece each of eggplant and zucchini, could be considered the highlight of the bento box. For the most part, the amount of batter was correct, and it was sufficiently crispy. The zucchini was the best of the bunch and tasted juicy and rich. One of the prawns was successful, while the other was too thin and tasted floury. The eggplant was also cut thinly and tasted floury.
Beef Teriyaki - C
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse with the Beef Teriyaki. The steamed rice was mushy, and the beef was chewy. To top it all off, the carrot was also lacking in flavour. Based on the dish, I think they would be better off hiring one of those dudes at Koya to do the teriyaki for them.
California Roll - B
Next, the California Roll wasn't so bad. There was even a nice little teriyaki sauce accident on one of the pieces. The crab meat was creamy, and there was a significant amount of avocado. The sushi rice was a little stickier than usual, but other than that, it tasted like standard fare.
Dragon Roll - B
After the Beef Bento, I tried the Dragon Roll, which consisted of masago, tempura unagi, cucumber and avocado. The small pieces of unagi on top had a sweet, savoury flavour. However, this was a very pricey roll considering what I received. For $15, they could not afford to give me any imitation crab meat or prawn tempura! How was I supposed to get my protein for the day?! With just avocado and cucumber inside, the overall flavour was weaker than the typical Dragon Roll, which features either crab meat or prawn tempura (or sometimes both).
The service was decent throughout my visit, and I also liked the modern decor, though it was styled more like an elegant Hong Kong cafe than a Japanese restaurant. The quality of the food was not sufficient to entice me to try the nigiri, so I left the restaurant after the Dragon Roll. I believe the proximity to the airport has something to do with the higher prices, but generally, the quality did not live up to those prices. I have dined at both Neptune Seafood Restaurant and Neptune Wonton Noodle, and from those visits, I know that Neptune Restaurant Group is capable of much more than what I received here at Ryuu Japanese Kitchen.