Here’s Your First Look at the Ruka Menu

The vibrant, edgy, Peruvian-Japanese-Chinese-inspired concept is the latest from the team behind Yvonne’s and Lolita.

Madai Usuzukuri (cured sea bream) (left) and Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche

Madai Usuzukuri (cured sea bream) (left) and Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche. / Photos by Toan Trinh

The Downtown Crossing renaissance continues: On Monday, December 5, a stacked lineup of industry pros debut Ruka, Boston’s first dedicated nikkei and chifa restaurant, at the Godfrey Hotel.

The latest venture from managing partners Chris Jamison and Mark Malatesta and culinary director Tom Berry, the team behind the revamped Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar and the glittering gem that is Yvonne’s, Ruka has flavors as bright as the murals decorating the walls. It’s less than a minute’s walk from Yvonne’s.

The concept is rooted in Latin American—namely, Peruvian—cuisine, with heavy influence from Japanese (nikkei) and Chinese (chifa). In addition to shareable noodle dishes, grilled skewers, ceviches, and more from executive chef Preston Miller, Ruka also has a sushi bar, courtesy of Ting Yen (Oishii Sushi Bar) and principal sushi chef Bing Liu (Oishii, Fugu food truck).

“We knew we wanted to do something seafood-inspired here,” Berry says. “Collectively, we had Lolita on the brain, so the Latin pulled into it. In the group, Preston, Chris, all of us, we like bold, balanced flavors. Italian crudo bars—it’s delicious, but it just didn’t fit with the style of flavors we wanted to do. It’s a little too delicate. Latin flavors, mixed with Asian, give us the opportunity to do things that were still a little bit bolder and more vibrant.”

Check out the menu below. Navigate it like this: Start with some makimono (Japanese sushi roll) or tiradito (Peruvian sashimi) from the sushi bar, like madai usuzukuri, a striking plate of razor-thin, cured sea bream brushed with white soy vinaigrette, spicy-sweet aji panca (a Peruvian pepper) sauce, and a stack of thinly sliced Japanese ginger stems and shiso; or crunchy shiso leaf tacos filled with salmon ceviche and avocado.

Next, choose another couple refreshers from the chilled and raw section, such as shrimp sunomono, with fried clam strips, crushed avocado, and yuzu vinaigrette; or Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche, with yogurt leche de tigre, pomegranate jewels, candied bulgur, and chili oil. Warm up with a couple of anticucho, or grilled skewers. The Ruka team jazzes up its ribeye, trumpet mushroom, octopus, and chicken thigh anticucho beyond what you’d typically find on a Peruvian street, Berry says, where the dish is typically just grilled beef heart, “with a dipping sauce on the side if you’re lucky.”

“These are Ruka anticucho. They’re a hybrid of the Chinese and Japanese grilled meat,” he says.

Green Noodles (Left) and Nikkei Salmon Tacos

Green Noodles (Left) and Nikkei Salmon Tacos. / Photos by Toan Trinh

Explore the wok-tossed and fried dishes next, like chicken fried rice; Lima-style calamari, with leche de tigre-garlic butter; sweet potato dumplings in barley dashi; and green noodles, a play on one of the most iconic dishes in Peru, tallarines verde. The verdant bowl of house-made curly udon noodles is tossed with basil and spinach for color and flavor, plus smoked cobia (a firm fish) and a sauce made from a dashi flavored with fish bones and miso, topped with crispy fish skin. If you’re feeding a crowd, don’t miss large-format plates, like tea-smoked Long Island duck, or whole-crispy butterfish.

And definitely save room for dessert. Yvonne’s pastry chef Liz O’Connell lends her talents in the team’s newest kitchen, too, with offerings like suspiro limeño, an amped-up take on Peru’s manjar blanco, a popular, dulce de leche-like treat.

“We reinterpreted that,” O’Connell says. In her version, dulce de leche pudding comes with soft meringue and beet-tinted, crispy meringue, key lime cremolada (a shaved ice-like confection), and a slice of Inca Kola cake.

“Everyone drinks it [in Peru],” O’Connell says of the super-sweet, lemon verbena-flavored soda. “I really wanted to do something with it, but I wanted to tame down the sweetness.”

Suspiro Limeno dessert

Suspiro Limeno dessert. / Photo by Toan Trinh

This technicolor spread and so much more is the team’s latest foray into social dining. At Ruka, it’s served in a gorgeous, dynamic room with natural elements, like a live-edge bar, plus vibrant, patterned tiles; stylized, painted murals; colorful, suspended ropes; and other vivid decor.

“It was a fun and exciting kind of concept that we started talking about almost two years ago,” Berry says.

Ruka seats 177, and will be open nightly from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Dinner is served until 11 p.m., and late-night sushi is on until midnight.

505 Washington St., at the Godfrey Hotel, Downtown Crossing, Boston, rukarestobar.com.