Ryu’s Dining

Editor’s Note: Ryu’s Dining was originally reviewed on Okinawa Hai on April 9, 2009; you can read a PDF copy of that original review HERE. The post below is an updated take on this restaurant, published May 1, 2012.

CONTRIBUTED BY AMY MADDOCKS

Ryu Front
Ryu Front

We went to a little gem of a restaurant last weekend and I just had to share! This was my first time trying a Chinese restaurant here, and I must say, it’s probably ruined me for Chinese food anywhere else. Ryu’s Dining is a favorite of the locals, as my Okinawan friends told me. They took us there to celebrate one of them retiring from teaching to be a stay-at-home mother. Her husband told her they could eat anywhere she wanted, and she picked Ryu’s Dining—and with good reason!

Ryu Food
Ryu Food

The owner is also the chef, and everything is homemade. They have a large menu to choose from, with prices ranging between 300-900 Yen. I don’t drink alcohol, but there were plenty of alcoholic drinks to choose from, and they also make all of their specialty drinks non-alcoholic. English is printed right on the menus, and pictures of dishes are posted out front. When we asked for the owner’s name, he told us everyone calls him “Dragon.” He was very friendly and liked to tell great stories (ask him to tell you the “cat food” story). He also explained every dish to us, telling us how it is prepared and cooked and even recommended dishes based on our likes/dislikes.

Ryu Inside
Ryu Inside

The place is very small but the décor is fantastic. Everything—and I mean everything—is lit up with different colors and sizes of lights. I would even go so far as to say that his creations are works of art. He told us that last year during Typhoon Muifa he spent his time creating new light designs to display around the restaurant. It was time well spent! The soft music in the background, fun lighting, and peaceful atmosphere made for a wonderful dining experience. But the food was, of course, the best part.

Ryu Dim Sum Sign
Ryu Dim Sum Sign

The owner is originally from Shanghai, but moved to Tokyo to learn Japanese and English. He also runs a restaurant in Tokyo and travels back and forth each week to bring fresh ingredients back and forth between the two locations. Because of this, his hours are not always acurate. The people eating there told us they just look for when the lights are on and come on over for great food. Dragon gave us a card and told us to just call when we want to eat to see if he is open (the hours posted are 5:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.). A weird way to run a business, but it works for him and is great for us because of the fresh, fantastic food he is able to make. My favorite was the cashew chicken, Gyoza, and spicy pickled cucumbers.

FYI:  There wasn’t a kids menu, and smoking was allowed by the bar area. Due to the air flow, I didn’t even realize people were smoking until I saw for myself, so it didn’t bother me. I wouldn’t call this a “family” restaurant, even though there was plenty of food on the menu that kids would like. The atmosphere in general was more centered on adults. Most of the patrons were Japanese, but as the night progressed he filled every table and a few Americans did join in.


Ryu’s Dining

Hours: Open only for dinner

Phone:  098-936-8229 (call before going to make sure he is open)

Payment:  Yen only

Address: 2 Chome-2-8 Chatan, Chatan

GPS Coordinates: 26.3060954, 127.76133159999995

Parking:  Limited—you may want to carpool if going with a large group

Directions:

From Kadena, travel south on the 58 and turn right at the 130 intersection. Coming from south of Foster, turn left at the same intersection. Turn left at the next light (ETWS will be on the corner). Turn left about a block later when you see a sign for Araha Beach. You’ll then be driving along a canal (you can see Ryu’s Dining from here) on your right. Turn right at the end of that street, then a quick right again (traveling around the canal). Ryu’s Dining will be on your left at the end of the street, with a yellow roof and blue walls. You also can’t miss the bright, neon signs!!

From Foster:  Take a left out of Foster’s “The Spot Gate” and cross 58.  Take the left at the first light after 58.  Take the next left turn (like you’re going to Mike’s Tex Mex) and take the right turn as the road ends.  Follow this street past the pachinko parlors and over the bridge.  Take a right turn immediately after the bridge, following the stream for a block or two.  Ryu’s is the yellow restaurant on the left at the T.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I cannot wait to go there. Ryu’s restaurant is a wonderful place and there food was the best on island. The owner has a good sense of humor and the waitress was very kind. My husband and I had soooooo much fun!!! I would highly recommend this restaurant ?

  2. Yea his cooking recipe goes back a little over 50 years and everything is homemade. He won’t allow any food to go since everything is homemade. I think it wouldn’t taste as good the same if it was treated as leftovers. The food is great and probably the best Chinese food I’ve ever had in my life.

  3. Melody’s comments below are 100% accurate. The food is pretty good, but the experience is just awful. The owner will not allow you to order the food you want; I attempted to order at least three times, and he would only reply that I actually wanted the cashew chicken. He went so far as to tell me I wouldn’t like chicken skins because I am American. I freaking LOVE chicken skins. He also overcharged us by about 340 yen. His stories are nothing more than that. They are clearly rehearsed bits, and he even repeated one of them at one point. In no way do I believe this guy flies out to get ingredients that often.

  4. l like spicy food, a lot of people told me chinese restaurant ryu’s dining is the best chinese restaurant on island. today we enjoyed dinner in ryu’s , amazing spicy chicken,spicy fried rice,best ryu’s special dim sum,
    great service ,beautiful restaurant, we love it,highly recommend,the best chinese on island.

  5. We love ryu’s . today we had party in ryu’s, good services ,amazing food ,especially chicken cashews,hong kong crispy spring egg rolls it’s the best Chinese on island, I would highly recommand it to anyone,ask his special recommendations , we defenitely be going back.

  6. We like chicken cashews,It is high quality and tasty, best dim sum, fried rice, crispy cream shrimps , It is the best Chinese restaurant on island .

  7. I won’t be going back. It was just a terrible experience. There were only two people working. When we first walked in there we sat and waited for a while before we got any service to order drinks. When we finally got our drinks the owner came over and talked to us forever because it was our first time there. He told us about his Tokyo travels, the art in his restaurant, he talked about all the recipes and even made suggestions to what we should order. Finally, when we got a chance to order we took some of his suggestions and as we were ordering our own food he questioned if we really wanted all that food. There were three of us and he had explained the dishes to be small and we wanted to order a lot of little dishes to taste. When the food came out he explained every dish, how he made it, what ingredients he used. In my opinion he talked up each of the dishes too much so that when you did taste it it wasn’t that good. The food was overly salty and it seemed like the same chicken and cashew seasoning was used on the grilled scallops we ordered. There were a lot of other things that just made this an overall bad dining experience. I wouldn’t reccommend it to anyone.

  8. We went on the perfect night. The large group that was there had just left and so there were only a few people at the bar and some older gentlemen occupying one of the tables. The owner greeted us suggested some menu items, one being the cashew chicken, and he also served our food to us. He talked to us depth about how he gets his ingredients and the freshness of them and why he isn’t open as often as he would like. The food was excellent!!! Everything was made to order. It’s a great little spot and you can always tell whe he’s open cause you will see the little yellow and blue building lit up.

  9. Hey all, thanks for the recommendation. We went there tonight and the food was very nice. This is my first eat out in Okinawa and I was happily surprised. Good quality chinese and a great night out.

  10. Thanks for this post I would have never known this place was here. I took advice from all of your posts and from Ryu and ordered cashew chicken, shanghai noodles, melting bean curd, and gyoza and the beauty beauty drink(I shared with others I did not eat it all myself). It was all wonderful as was the owner who chatted with us for a good 15 minutes and even tried to teach us some Japanese

  11. We love Ryu’s! We went the first time when I was 8 months pregnant and have been back several times since. After only a few visits Ryu knew our family, and remembered what we ordered. He chats to us if he’s not too busy, and waves good-bye at the door as we drive away! It is the most delicious food I’ve had on the island by far – and the atmosphere is so homey and Ryu so kind and personable, you truly do feel like you’re home! I would highly recommend it to anyone – Ask Ryu to recommend some good dishes – we’ve loved everything he’s placed in front of us!

  12. Truly the BEST food I’ve eaten on Okinawa with the most genuine service. You truly MUST try it! Flat out delicious food and drinks. You will love it, promise!

  13. I’m hoping this is the place I used to go to all the time when I was stationed at Foster in 96…. I’m going back in January, and I’m so excited to go back!

  14. I’ve been to dragons, and this place is way better. The food was great and the service was awsome. Its a great little place kinda hidden in plain sight. Once you go there you will know what I mean. The food was great, service great, and the price was deccent spending around 4200 yen for me and my wife and 2 kids; to include drinks. And listen to his reccomendations.

  15. Wow, so glad you posted this!! I went to a place that I thought was called the dragon but it’s not this place! I can’t wait to try it now that I know where it is:) Thanks!

  16. Looks and sounds yummy. I’m not a fan of Chinese and you have me convinced. We get together with several other couples on Saturday night to eat out and this would be a great place to try. The hubs and I eat out daily so we are running out of places to eat – thanks for the great recommendation!!! I’ll even be brave and try the melting bean curd stuff!!!!

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