Ruka Is Gearing Up for a December Opening

The partners behind Yvonne's, Lolita Cocina, and the forthcoming restaurant at the Godfrey Hotel are adding to their team.

An octopus dish at Ruka

An octopus dish at Ruka. / Photo by Adam Detour provided

Yvonne’s glittered onto the Boston restaurant scene just in time to completely change the dining game in 2016—and by the end of this year, the team is poised to shake things up again with Ruka. The downtown sibling spot is building up a solid staff ahead of a planned December debut.

Partners Christopher Jamison, Mark Malatesta, and culinary director Tom Berry have teamed up with Ting Yen to conceptualize a social, Nikkei restaurant inside the Godfrey Hotel. Yen, who opened Oishii Sushi Bar in Chestnut Hill in 1998, is also at the helm of Oishii Boston and Yuuka in Mumbai, India. In addition to contemporary Peruvian cuisine with Japanese and Chinese influence (nikkei and chifa), Ruka will have a sushi bar showcasing Yen’s inspired technique and decadent style, with South American flavors and ingredients.

Bing Liu is on board as principal sushi chef. The Harbin, China-born, U.S.-raised chef is a Le Cordon Bleu Paris graduate and former chef de partie at Corton in New York City. In 2012, he became sushi chef at Oishii Boston, before taking a hiatus to launch the beloved Fugu truck, and make sushi in Sydney, Australia. He’s back in Boston for Ruka.

Menu details are still being finalized for Yen’s sushi program, as well as executive chef Preston Miller’s nikkei and chifa cuisine. Trips to Latin America over the past year inform the menu, and Preston’s eight-year career has prepared him to usher in the new-to-Boston cuisine, too. At April Bloomfield’s Michelin-starred Breslin Bar and Dining Room (New York City), Bar Sajor in Seattle, and restaurants in New Hampshire and Puerto Rico, the chef has become well-versed with seafood as well as whole animal butchery.

Yvonne’s pastry chef Liz O’Connell, who helped Berry open Nantucket restaurants Great Harbor Yacht Club and the Proprietors Bar & Table, is leading Ruka’s pastry team. She has a range of experience, including as a chocolatier at both Chocolate Moderne and Valrhona Chocolate, and as executive pastry chef at Harvest, and the John Dory (New York City). At Yvonne’s, her pastry program is whimsical and nostalgic, and she is applying South American and Asian flavors and techniques to her dishes at Ruka.

The man who put the party in the copper pineapple at Yvonne’s is also leading Ruka’s beverage team. Will Thompson has bartended at Boston go-tos like Drink, Lone Star Taco Bar, and more, and as a consultant, he developed the unique gin and sherry bar Straight Law inside Taberna de Haro, and opened Tim and Nancy Cushman’s Roof at Park South in New York. Thompson recently revamped the bar program at Lolita Cocina and Tequila bar, and he’s developing a drinks program for Ruka that pays homage to the unique culture of Peru.

The front-of-house team is under the direction of Jessica Abate, a former Eastern Standard server and No. 9 Park bartender who has built her management chops in New York City, at Roof at Park South and Maialino, a trattoria from Union Square Hospitality.

Ruka will be the latest hotspot in Downtown Crossing, a part of town that, until quite recently, was not very active past business hours. Yvonne’s kicked off a year that saw exciting, new arrivals like Haley.Henry Wine Bar, and Pabu, the first Boston restaurant from acclaimed restaurateur Michael Mina, which officially opens Tuesday. The neighborhood is also slated to get an opulent outpost of Boston Chops.

But all of this excitement requires a strong foundation: Dedicated help. The Ruka team is hosting open call interviews at its Fort Point management office this Wednesday and Thursday, November 2 and 3, to fill positions across the restaurant group.

Ruka, opening December 2016 at the Godfrey Hotel, 505 Washington St., Boston, Email.