I Am Downtown Boston: RUKA’s Executive Chef Preston Miller
Just when you think they couldn’t be any more intriguing, the team behind Yvonne’s and Lolita’s has opened RUKA at the boutique Godfrey Hotel. The latest endeavor from managing partners Chris Jamison and Mark Malatesta and culinary director Tom Berry, this dining destination is a completely new experience for Boston. Not only does it celebrate Peruvian cuisine, but it blends the country’s Japanese and Chinese population’s influence through Nikkei and Chifa fusion. The six sections of the menu take you on a journey through the South American country, with everything from shareable noodle dishes to chilled raw dishes, grilled skewers (anticucho) to wok-fried rice.
RUKA itself is a visual feast, with live-edge wood tables, golden hand-hammered Incan sun god sculptures, patterned tiles, shou-sugi ban charred wood, rope details inspired by woven Peruvian fabrics, dragons and Incan patterns, and vibrant street art murals. We sat down with Jamison and Executive Chef Preston Miller to find out a little more about this addition to DTX’s dining scene.
TheVoiceofDowntownBoston: What is most exciting about RUKA coming to Boston’s dining scene?
Executive Chef Preston Miller: RUKA is a different kind of restaurant with an interesting menu concept that not many people are familiar with. It’s especially exciting because there’s nothing similar in Downtown Crossing or even the city, so we’re able to bring in a whole new type of restaurant and cuisine to the area.
VOD: What can people expect from Nikkei and Chifa? What are the nuances in spices or preparation?
PM: There are bold, spicy and sour flavors with different influences from different areas of the world. In terms of preparation, both our wok and chit wood grill allow us to prepare food in fun and interesting ways. For example, the chit wood grill smokes and grills dishes – including the anticuchos – at the same time.
VOD: What are Peruvian techniques you’ll be utilizing?
PM: While it’s not a technique, the way we’re preparing the anticuchos is unique. It’s still meat, vegetables or fish on a skewer, but what we’re doing with them and the attention we’re giving to a simple preparation gives these dishes a new depth of flavor. The octopus, for example, is braised for five hours before being cooled down in liquid, grilled, rolled in tamarind and then put back on the grill.
VOD: What dishes are you most excited about?
PM: The Green Noodles are my favorite – it’s a classic Peruvian dish. Our dish takes green noodles (we use hand-rolled, eggless noodles instead of the traditional boiled spaghetti) and makes it a bit more interesting with smoked cobia, which is a warm water fish, and a rich sauce of miso-dashi butter, basil, and spinach. Another dish I’m excited about is the Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche. The scallops – which are perfectly in season right now – is served with our homemade yogurt. We use our whey, which is a by-product of making the yogurt to make our Leche de Tigre. The ceviche is finished with pomegranate, candied bulgur, and chili oil. It’s slightly more Mediterranean than some of the other items on the menu, but still has a strong Peruvian influence.
VOD: Why did you choose downtown Boston for RUKA?
Chris Jamison: We have witnessed first-hand the renaissance that DTX has experienced over the past three years since we first started work on Yvonne’s. We saw a gradual shift taking place in both business and residential demographics, with tech, advertising and marketing firms setting down roots in the area, and the completion of first-class residential projects. We always felt there was no good reason that DTX – the literal and figurative center of the city – should be anything but great. We saw an opportunity to continue that revitalization from a restaurant point of view.
VOD: Have the cultural influences in the DTX dining scene grown?
CJ: Downtown Boston has strong roots in fine dining. We’ve seen and been a part of the resurgence of this trend with the opening of Yvonne’s in 2015 and now RUKA in 2016. In more recent history, dining options in the neighborhood have been limited, but we [joined] the trend of more globally-inspired concepts when we opened Yvonne’s, and we are now building on that momentum with RUKA.
RUKA is located at 505 Washington Street in Boston.