When I tell people about Ryuma Japanese Restaurant, more often than not, they give out a big laugh and I get quips like “I might get sick!” or “Isn’t that painful?” You see, it sounds like rayuma which is Filipino for rheumatism. One of the waitresses told me that the “r” is actually very soft and it actually sounds more like [r]yuma. Ryuma is the name of the first son of the owner, a Japanese of course, who retired here in the Philippines and established his restaurant/shopping business for the benefit of the rather large Japanese community in the technoparks in Laguna.

The Ryuma complex occupies the whole 2nd floor of the Paseo de Santa Rosa in Santa Rosa City, Laguna and is not just one restaurant really. On the second floor you can choose where to dine — at the sushi bar, ramen house, a teppanyaki room, and a KTV bar — but whichever one you choose, you can still order any dish from any of the other sub-restaurants. Each spot has a corner stacked with toys, dolls and doodads. Any child below 10 years old gets to spin a wheel and win any toy of his or her choice! Cute, huh? And they also get free ice cream, popcorn and, when available, cotton candy. And should your child break a plate or anything accidentally, they’re cool about it. Kids will be kids is their attitude. And kitsch is their design attitude. It’s like entering a manga world, with bright yellow anything everywhere and lifesize samurais and stuffed pheasants here and there.

Aside from the restaurants, there is a Japanese grocery, a “specials and baby shop” (perfect for the japayuki fashionista in you), and even the owners’ toilet fixture exporting business office. Okashii, neh? Along the corridors, there’s a stall that serves free meals to the drivers or chauffeurs of the patrons, which often includes a bowl of noodles and some dimsum (like gyoza or even siopao). One man once asked for his free meal but the server looked at him closely and said “But, sir, you are not a driver!” To which the man replied “Yes, I am! I drove my wife here… that makes me her driver!” I’m not sure if the man was given his free meal, though. And there are also kiosks that make and serve Japanese hopia, unusual fishballs in baking tins, and other Japanese snacks.

The food at Ryuma Japanese restaurant is very good and very VERY reasonable! The average price of a dish is P200 which, let me tell you, is more than reasonable for food that good and authentic and with today’s prices. And the servings are quite generous. They even make their ramen noodles fresh everyday!

Getting there is quite smooth and easy via the well-paved SLEX. Just take the Greenfield exit and drive on — there is no missing the Paseo de Santa Rosa mall, which is chockful of outlets to shop in before or after a hearty meal at Ryuma.