A good Japanese restaurant with a great soup. The seafood soup has surprising depth and clarity of flavor; floating in it are shrimp, cooked to sweet succulence, as well as scallops and the fish cake I’ve heard called “bologna of the sea.” Best, though, were the vibrant, beautifully cut vegetables: asparagus, peppers, snow peas. This is the soup of springtime.

Ruby Japanese Restaurant has sparkle. Maybe it's the chic modern look of burnished gold surfaces. Or the fresh, artfully presented sushi.

GENUINE GEMS

I'm taken with the vibrancy of my seafood soup. In it are perfectly cooked shrimp and scallops as well as beautifully cut vegetables: asparagus, peppers, snow peas. Mushroom soup also is good, with its clear but intense broth.

The sushi chefs are on top of their game. I like everything they send out, from a fish-free (but irresistible) avocado and peanut roll to a properly fiery "T & T" (spicy tuna and white tuna) roll. A rainbow roll is vivid and clean-tasting, even if it's not what we ordered. And an appetizer of serrano chile- spiked hamachi (yellowtail) juxtaposes velvety sliced fish with a jolt of electricity.

One afternoon, I eat at the sushi bar and am handed a complimentary seaweed and avocado salad by one of the chefs, a lovely gesture. My sashimi plate features impeccably sliced tuna, salmon, yellowtail and red snapper.

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At dinner, eel donburi (over rice) is truly delicious. So, too, is chirashi, which is presented on a plate, the fish aligned alongside (rather than over) the rice.

A dessert called "fudge fantasy" translates into a light chocolate mousse pie. Not house-made, but good.

IMPOSTORS

Chairs are too low while banquette seating is regular height - a metaphor, perhaps, for what an uneven experience dining here can be.

On two occasions, the same waitress aggressively pushes specials, especially an item called "sea bass wrapped," grilled fish bundled in Boston lettuce and topped with a balsamic-miso sauce. It's not bad, just bland. A tuna and king crab "pizza" with guacamole comes on a tough fried tortilla, a waste of good fish.

We ask the waitress to have our maki rolls cut into eight pieces, rather than six. She acknowledges the request, but it's never carried out. On another occasion, a friend's teriyaki scallops are cooked to the texture of rubber. The owner graciously takes them back; the salmon ordered as a replacement is also sadly overdone.

BOTTOM LINE

There seems to be a double disconnect - between customer and server, server and kitchen. Even so, the owner and sushi chefs seem to truly care. Hopefully, once they get the rest of the crew up to speed, Ruby's will really glow. -- Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 5/6/09.