By Libby Hopkins

Will you Ryuu? That’s the catch phrase for the Ryuu Japanese Steakhouse that has recently joined the Westfield Brandon Mall. Its concept is upscale Teppanyaki dining accompanied with an extended bar area that offers more than 40 kinds of sushi.

“What we’ve done is taken the Teppanyaki cooking concept and given it a more modern aspect,” said Robert Smith, owner and managing partner of the restaurant. Teppanyaki cooking is an art form in its self. The word, “Teppanyaki” means grilling on an iron plate, but it’s so much more. This type of cooking was introduced to the U.S. shortly after World War II. Diners enjoy Teppanyaki cooking not only for the fresh, flavorful Japanese ingredients, but also for the performance artistry of the chef who masterfully chops and dices the food, then sets the entire grill aflame in the blink of an eye.

If dinner with a show is not your forte, you can relax and have dinner or sushi in the bar and booth area of the restaurant. Sushi has become very popular recently and Smith feels his restaurant offers some the most creative and delicious sushi in the area. “I think people are getting more into sushi lately because it’s a healthier alternative and it’s reasonably priced,” Smith said.

Some of his favorites at Ryuu are the “Fire Cracker Roll,” “Volcano Roll,” and the “Double J Roll,” but he said he would like for people to come into his restaurant and try all of them to see which one will be their favorite.

Smith picked the Brandon area to open his restaurant because of its diversity. “The Brandon area is an up-and-coming area and we feel we are a good fit with it and we will give it more of an edge,” Smith said. He also feels that the ambiance of the restaurant will make diners forget they are having dinner at the mall.

“For a restaurant to be successful, they need to strive for three things:  Great customer service, cleanliness and good quality food, and that is what I feel we have here,” Smith said. He also believes in giving back to the community that supports him.

Smith sponsors a local baseball team and donates regularly to New Horizons and other organizations in the Brandon community. “Education is a big deal to me and I try to give back whenever I can to the community that supports me and my restaurant,” Smith said.

Ryuu Japanese Steakhouse is open seven days a week. It serves lunch Monday-Friday and offers daily specials.

For more information, visit or call 438-5934. Ryuu is located next to The Cheesecake Factory at Westfield Brandon Mall.


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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.