I went to Ru San’s for a friend’s birthday dinner. Ru-San’s is in the Gulch, which is an awesome neighborhood for eating. Their menu is extremely extensive; it is practically a book. They have a great and varied selection of vegetarian rolls, all but one of which are $4.50 or less. There’s also a great mix of vegetarian appetizers. Ru San’s plays a crazy mix of loud electronic music, which really makes the experience in my opinion. The birthday girl made reservations for twelve, and they put together a bunch of tables at the back for us. We all had a great time, and it’s a great place for a special occasion like a birthday (not so much like an anniversary). Furthermore, those cocktails are simply called “Ultimate.” None of the cocktails on the drink menu have descriptions, and my group was never able to determine exactly what kind of liquor they contained. There is also something on the drink menu called “Hardcore! – Penlock [or Perlot or Penklot or something to that effect]” and it costs $8.50. When I asked what it contained, the server began rattling off “vodka, beer, sake . . .” at which point I just had her stop, because I didn’t really want to know what else was in it. Apparently, I am not hardcore enough for Penlock (or Peklot or Penkoe or whatever).
I started my meal with edamame. It came unsalted, and it’s hard to see it in the photo but there was a generous pile of salt on the plate. I LOVE edamame. I love how the pod is weird and hairy. I love the act of eating the stuff. Any restaurant that serves edamame is a winner in my book.
Next I split this order of Garlic Sesame Tofu with basically everyone at the table. Most of the tofu dishes on the menu included bonito flakes. Bonito flakes, in case you don’t know, are basically dried fish. They are used in all sorts of Japanese dishes, and if you’re at a Japanese restaurant you should ask if bonito is in any of the stuff you’re ordering. Take miso soup as an example. I didn’t have the soup at Ru San’s so I don’t know what it contains, but at a lot of Japanese restaurants if you ask if the miso soup has fish the server will tell you “no,” but if you ask if it has bonito the server will tell you “yes.” Getting back to this dish, I asked if it contained bonito and the answer was no. And man, it was good! All the omnis at my table were reaching over to grab bits of tofu, mushrooms, whole garlic cloves, and seaweed salad. My only complaint is that the tofu was a little mushy. Seriously, if you go to Ru San’s, eat this.
Ah, my main course: Vegetable Futo Maki. This roll was supposed to include tamago (egg), but when I asked them to leave it off they happily obliged. Now, I’m not a big sushi lover, but this was GOOD. It included carrots, mushrooms, avocado, tofu, and possibly more (I’m not really sure). I ate it with my hands and got teased, but eating sushi (except for sashimi) with your hands is totally acceptable. I don’t want this post to turn into some crazy guide to sushi etiquette, and it’s not like I’m an expert, so I’ll include some sushi-licious links at the end of the post. But yeah, seriously, that roll was awesome . . . especially with soy sauce and wasabi. Mmmmmmmmmm. Also, my friend who sat next to me had never had sushi before and chose a fully-cooked noodle dish involving shrimp. I had him try a piece of my veggie roll and he said it was good. So, success!
I would definitely eat at Ru San’s again. The food was good and the atmosphere was fun. The menu is enormous and you could have something new every visit if you went every day for a month. There are more dishes I want to try, like the inari tofu. Plus then I can have more sake bombs. Kampai!
Ru San’s Japanese Sushi and Seafood Restaurant
505 12th Avenue S
Nashville, TN 37203