Ryugetsu is one of the few Okinawan cuisine restaurants in the city, and since it’s so close to JR Utsunomiya Station, I’d put off going–until we had a work enkai (drinking party) there, and I was super happy.
Actually, I was super happy through and through.
It’d been a long time since I had proper Okinawan food (probably since I went to Okinawa…3 years ago…). Okinawan food has a lot of influences from China and puts on a tropical spin, since it was a thriving and independent kingdom for centuries before being annexed by Japan. Since we got a set course, I don’t know exactly what everything was called, but I’ll do my best to at least describe it:
We started out with 3 appetizers (stir-fried carrot and egg, potato salad, and stir-fried bean sprouts and carrot) and then quite quickly a tofu salad. All were pretty addicting.
Then came the goya champuru, and I held my breath. Goya (bitter gourd) is one of my weaknesses in Japanese cooking–it’s seriously bitter. Cringe-worthy. BUT Ryugetsu’s version is palateable, and I had a couple servings! It was slightly bitter, but not overwhelming, so a good “training wheels” for anyone trying to get acquainted with it.
Next up we had some fried spring rolls and fried…other things. I know I’m making this all sound pretty delicious, but take my word at least, not the lack of words in my vocabulary and memory to describe it–again, these were both pretty darn good.
Next came some stir fried beef and chicken on top of a bed of bean sprouts, green beans, and potatoes, and topped with fried garlic chips. It’s a weird mix, but again, super good. The sauces for everything were just the right amounts as well–perfect accents to the dishes.
Up next was some fried rice. It wasn’t my favorite ever, but it wasn’t terrible. I liked that it was topped with pickled ginger and scallions.
Finally for dessert, they brought out sata andagi, basically Okinawa’s take on hush-puppies: fried cake-like balls. They’re only slightly sweet, and come in 2 varieties, yellow and purple, which makes me wonder if there was some varieties of sweet potato in them, but as far as I know, the typical recipe doesn’t use potatoes. A bit of a heavy way to end a meal, but pretty darn delectable.
The course also came with the typical nomihodai (all you can drink), and despite it’s relative standard-ness, it had a couple of Okinawan specials, namely awamori (a hard liquor, similar in my mind to shochu), shikwaasaa (a type of citrus fruit) cocktails, and sampin-cha (an Okinawan jasmine tea), although Okinawan Orion Beer wasn’t included, which was a bit disappointing.
Their menu extends even beyond this if you come and order everything ala carte, which I would not hesitate to do, since all the food had been thumbs up good. Since you can try a lot of different items, I’d recommend the course as well–you definitely fill up on a lot of good food! I’m sorry I judged you for being close to JR!