(516) 224-4660, Woodbury
The opening of Ruby, an Asian fusion restaurant and sushi bar in the Woodbury Common shopping center highlights two important Long Island restaurant trends. The first is volatility. The Asian Bistro Next Store and Graffiti preceded Ruby at this location. The second is the rapid proliferation of Asian restaurants. Although Italian restaurants are still the Island’s culinary mainstay, relatively few new ones are opening while the number of Asian spots continues to surge.
Ruby, which opened late last year, is a sleek, snazzy, high ceiling spot with a sharp looking sushi bar, bare tables, wall candles, a bit of bricks here and a splash of red there. Oversized windows make Ruby look larger than it is. Its reasonably priced menu is nicely balanced between sushi, sashimi, rolls and Asian kitchen (or cooked) dishes.
Although most of the food here is commendable, the service by the fast moving Asian waitstaff often staggered. It certainly did on a busy Saturday night in January. We could have eaten an entire dinner in the time between the appetizers and entrées. There were also gaps within the courses, with the staccato arrival of dishes. The waitresses delivering them never knew who ordered what. We ordered white rice and got brown. Nor were we offered a sake menu. We had to ask for one.
Having said all of that, it should be noted that the six tender, moist shumai for a modest $5 were exemplary. The mushroom soup ($4.50) was thick with tasty ingredients. A couple of shrimp pops (eggroll-like cylinders on sticks, $7) passed muster while four individual pieces of sushi—striped bass, crab, egg and octopus—were all as they should be.
Mango shrimp sporting soft, ripe strips of fruit and five plump shrimp ($18) was a rewarding triumph. Both combo teriyaki ($18) and General Tso’s chicken ($15) were mixed bags. The lightly crusted, tender chicken was fine but its accompanying broccoli was room temperature and while the heavenly beef in the combo teriyaki was buttery tender, its jumbo sea scallops were a bit gritty. The gently priced and abundant chicken mei fun ($12), or Singapore noodles, was laced with plenty of substantial ingredients but it was a bland dish, lacking almost any seasoning, spices, taste or pizzazz.
The western style desserts ($6) aren’t made at Ruby. They are package by Bindi and are on a separate color menu with no prices. The results vary. The soft, delicious chocolate chip studded cheesecake was something I’d order again, but the coppa caramel and coppa stracciatella were still semi-frozen when they arrived at our table making them difficult to eat and taste.
Ruby, as with many new restaurants, seems to subscribe to the noise-is-fun formula. In short, if the restaurant is loud, upbeat, even rollicking, it means diners are enjoying themselves. Unfortunately it also means people at the same table often have problems hearing what one another are saying.
Photos by Stephen Lang