By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 19, 2008 at 5:28 AM

A ruyi is a Chinese good luck charm -- often made of jade, ivory, coral or other precious materials -- and one that often has a serpentine shape. They connote prosperity, longevity and good fortune and were often bestowed as gifts to bring good luck.

RuYi is also the name of the new pan-Asian noodle-focused restaurant in the expanded Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 1721 W. Canal St., in the Menomonee Valley.

RuYi's menu features Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Hmong dishes but emphasizes noodle dishes. It's pretty clear from the open layout of the restaurant that while not offering "fast food," RuYi is adapted to a grab and go meal.

"Yes, it will be a fast dining experience," says Potawatomi Food and Beverage Director Michael Tsuchihashi.

"In Asia a lot of restaurants are located at busy intersections and in train stations where people want a quick bite and noodles are adapted to that. We went with that emphasis ... quick casual.

"There are a lot of areas in the restaurant, an island counter, a service counter. It's got a lot of spaces for single diners and that's unique for us here at the casino."

A projected menu includes appetizers like fresh Vietnamese basil spring rolls and Chinese chicken lettuce wraps alongside entrees like Japanese seafood udon, spicy volcano chicken tenders with rice noodles and Korean bulgolgi. Desserts will include coconut milk tea with tapioca, bubble tea and green and red bean milk teas with tapioca.

Tsuchihashi estimates the average diner will spend about $12 on a meal at RuYi, which is open daily from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m.

The gorgeous space, decorated in elaborate tile work and Asian icons, uses the ruyi's snaking shape to great effect, slithering reds and golds -- colors that spell good luck in China -- through the dining area, which has a range of tables and counter space that, together, can accommodate 90 diners.

"RuYi," says Tsuchihashi, "is Chinese for ‘as you wish.' Gaming and superstition go together, so we want it to be a good luck charm. We looked at a cross section of all the restaurants we have here at the casino and we already had a lot of different food stylings, but not Asian, so it made natural sense."

Tsuchihashi -- who is half Japanese and lived in Asia for six years -- says that diners will find RuYi to be just like the real thing.

"We have a lot of Asian guests here at the casino," he notes. "It's important for us to have an authentic restaurant and we thought the name helped."

"It's going to be a fun restaurant and authentic rather than interpretive."

Tsuchihashi hopes the restaurant is ready for a soft opening this week. The renovated casino's grand opening takes place Thursday, June 19.

The expanded casino is also home to a higher-profile Dream Dance location, which has expanded seating capacity. A new location for the popular Buffet also seats more diners. Wild Earth, which offers less expensive fine dining that Dream Dance opens upstairs in July.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.