Family restaurants may be hard to come by on Okinawa, but there’s a self-styled “snack shop” with such a wide-range of meals that anyone in the family will find something they like.
Located near central Naha City, Ruby is an eatery that is all the rage. It has a reputation for always being busy – even when other neighboring restaurants are nearly empty.
“I think it is because of the large portions of our meals and our wide-ranging menu,” says owner Rieko Matsuda. Like its menu, Ruby’s has grown over the years but she still considers it a snack shop because of its humble beginnings. “My restaurant may look like a ‘family restaurant’ because of the variety of dishes we offer.”
Renowned for its large portions, however, she adds that most of her customers are local men in their 30s and 50s.
“I am sure that even the biggest of eaters will be satisfied with our menu,” Matsuda says.
Ruby boasts scores of different dishes ranging from barbecue, Okinawan noodles, Cheese burgers and ramen to various raw fish dishes and several meal sets for children.
“We started as just a simple snack shop 53 years ago,” Matsuda says. “Since then we have added to the menu year after year. Today, with more than 70 menu items, we can be compared to a family restaurant.”
Among a long list of local favorites, she says the Lunch Set A for 800 yen is the most popular. It includes “porku tamago” (spam and egg), ham, hamburger, pork cutlet, salad, rice and locally flavored egg soup. And ordering at Ruby us easy.
Buy your meal ticket at the vending machine near the entrance. Pictures of each menu item are displayed next to the vending machine to help you choose. Then take a seat either at a table or on the tatami-mat floor, which can accommodate up to 100 people.
Complementary ice tea is available from a dispenser. Orion and other Okinawan beers are also available.
Being near Camp Kinser makes Ruby the regular haunt of many U.S. service members, according to Matsuda.
“One of their most favorite menu items is ‘katsudon’ (breaded fried pork cutlet bowl),” she says. “That’s probably because of the huge portion and rich taste of pork and egg together.”
Ruby is open until midnight, making it ideal for a late dinner or late-night snack. It also has a large parking lot for 15 cars.
“This is a barrier-free shop,” Matsuda says. “Anyone in wheel chair are accompanied by a guide dog are always welcome.”