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Japanese restaurant Ryu Izakaya opens on Columbia Pike

A new restaurant specializing in Japanese street food opened last week on Columbia Pike.

Ryu Izakaya, located at 3030 Columbia Pike, on the ground floor of the Days Inn hotel, celebrated its soft opening last Thursday after almost a year of renovations. It moved into the former home of Rincome Thai, a Pike mainstay.

The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner but the owners may adjust the hours a grand opening set for later this month, Panni Satayayuk, the restaurant’s marketing director, told ARLnow.

Satayayuk noted the owners are keen on gathering customer feedback before the grand opening.

“We still try to get feedback from our customers and how they like the soup. How do you like the fish, or is it too sweet? Is it too salty too sour?” she said. “So we are like in a learning process on this our first few days.”

The restaurant is co-owned by two couples, Ben and Bow Jaypakdee and Tony and Jenny Seesiadkhaall, who immigrated to the U.S. from Thailand more than a decade ago, Satayayuk said.

While none of the owners are of Japanese descent, Satayayuk said Ben and Bow have spent the past decade working in Japanese restaurants in D.C. Tony and Jenny, who co-own Absolute Noodle and Sushi Bar in D.C.’s Chinatown, also have backgrounds in Japanese cuisine, specifically making sushi.

The four friends started talking about opening a new restaurant in 2020 when Absolute Noodle started making a profit in 2018, according to Satayayuk. The idea was to have a more casual Japanese restaurant dining experience with smaller plates and a bar that is open late.

“Right now in Japan, they started doing this trend called izakaya,” said Satayayuk. “It’s like street food. People drink at night having like… tapas, but the Japanese version.”

A few highlights from the menu include the Mt. Fuji Roll — spicy tuna, salmon, crunchy tempura and eel sauce — and yakitori assortment.

Satayayuk noted part of the restaurant’s mission was to expose more people to Japanese street food like   yakitori and donburi, in addition to more mainstream staples like ramen and sushi. The other motive was to appeal to a younger crowd.

“In this Arlington area, there’s not many [options for a] younger vibe for Japanese food,” Satayayuk said.

The owners also chose the Columbia Pike location, in part, because it was less expensive to open a restaurant in Arlington than D.C. and there is a lot of new growth nearby.

“The food price would have to be higher to pay for the market rent everything [in D.C.]. So, here is still not easy, but it’s less challenging,” she said.

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