Ruby Jack’s, Roppongi: Not Just Another Steakhouse
It is hardly a challenge to find a restaurant in Tokyo that will serve you a steak. But getting a good steak (or another cut of meat), for a reasonable price, in a place with an elegant atmosphere...that's a much taller order. Enter Ruby Jack's, which opened its doors in the Ark Hills complex last year.
Produced by the team behind other Tokyo hotspots Two Rooms and R2 Supperclub, Ruby Jack’s manages to squarely hit that elusive middle ground between fine dining and casual fare. The menu is full of familiar favorites, all beautifully presented and made with the highest quality ingredients. The ambiance is classy enough to feel special, but not the slightest bit stuffy.
High ceilings and full-length windows on two sides create an inviting openness and ensure plenty of natural light during daytime hours. The restaurant is spacious, with an open kitchen, a glass meat locker, a large wine cellar, and a private room for up to ten. Just inside the large wooden front door is a fully stocked bar (open until 2 a.m.), and a large terrace lines the side. The decor is minimal, with a large painting by Masashi Ozawa creating a focal point on the back wall. Crisp white table linens complete the understated look.
When I arrived for a recent weekday lunch, the dining room was already about half full, with at least one large group seated near the entrance. But even as more diners arrived during the peak hour, the atmosphere never became noisy, and we were able to enjoy our conversation just as much as our food.
We started off with some oysters, which are a specialty of Ruby Jack’s. Both Japanese and imported varieties are available, prepared in five different ways. We went with natural (served with a squeeze of lemon; ¥800) and Kilpatrick (cooked and topped with crispy shredded bacon; ¥900). Both went down very well, and got me excited about what was to come.
Lunch sets are priced starting at a very reasonable ¥1,950, which includes a choice of appetizer and main dish or sandwich. I asked the chef and director Matthew Crabbe for his recommendations, and based on that ordered the clam chowder as a starter and the steak Caesar salad as a main. Having lived for four years in New England, I am not easily impressed by clam chowder and have never found one in Tokyo that I would order again. Until now, that is. Served in a covered ceramic soup bowl and topped with shredded croutons, it had a beautiful smokiness thanks to the addition of house-cured bacon. The consistency was just right and the flavor brought me back to meals shared with friends seaside at Boston harbor.
When the steak Caesar was placed in front of me I was audibly wowed by not only its size, but also its vibrant color. Bright green butterhead lettuce was topped with succulent strips of perfectly pink beef, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and toasted bread crumbs. The steak was not just any steak, but a 200-gram grain fed black angus ribeye. It was delicious in its simplicity, and needed very little of the dressing that I had asked be served on the side. It’s rare that I am not able to finish a salad, but this one was very filling. Besides, I had a save at least a little room for dessert!
To round out our meal, my friend and I decided to share two of the new seasonal sweets: a Kyoto carrot mont blanc with black sesame ice cream and ginger walnuts, and a toffee apple jam donut with calvados ice cream (¥1,250 each). It turned out to be a wise decision, as they were very different and yet I honestly can’t say which one I preferred.
Thanks to its convenient location and spacious layout, Ruby Jack’s would make a perfect choice for any kind of gathering or celebration, from business meetings to ladies’ lunches. It is even offering a special menu for year-end and new year parties, priced at just ¥10,000 per person for a four-course dinner and two hours of free-flowing beverages. It will also be serving Christmas dinner (¥15,000 per person), which includes a glass of Louis Roederer champagne, chilled lobster consomme, cauliflower truffle gratin, a char-grilled wagyu fillet, and classic plum pudding.
Address: 2F Ark Hills South Tower, 1-4-5 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Mon–Sat, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sun & hols, 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; bar is open until 2 a.m. Mon–Sat and until 12 a.m. Sun & hols