Ryunique offers a Seasonal Menu, featuring fresh market ingredients and Exquisite wine pairings
March 30, 2018
Nestled amidst the neon signs and buzzing streets of Gangnam, Seoul, is an intimate restaurant creating works of art from food. Eating at Ryunique is, like it’s namesake, a truly unique dining experience – its name is a combination of Chef Tae-Hwan Ryu’s name and the word “unique”.
Entering the restaurant we stepped into a small (with only a handful of tables), quiet space, the pale green walls and flowers decorating the table surfaces hinting at the influence of nature and wildlife that we will soon experience in the culinary delights.
Ryunique keeps ordering relatively simple for its guests. Your choice is the tasting menu at lunch time or the tasting menu come the evening, so we went for the dinner tasting menu! There is something quite satisfying and refreshing at not having to peruse a menu for ages. A map was placed on our table and the server explained that almost all of the ingredients in the evenings dishes were sourced regionally in Korea. The map remained on the table throughout the night and we found ourselves referencing it all evening to find out which parts of South Korea the variety of ingredients came from, which ranged widely from pine nuts, monk fish and guinea fowl to red kiwi.
We were immediately served four Amuse, coming out in pairs, the highlights were the broccoli and asparagus mousse which was so light one could imagine this is the closest you can get to eating the softest of clouds, only this cloud comes with a tasty surprise of fried pork at the bottom of the glass.
The theme of wildlife and nature runs like a thread through each dish, and culminates spectacularly in its presentation, with dishes in the shape of kimchi and potato chip dragonflies, and ice cream resembling stones lain on a bed of moss. The beauty in the natural is an obvious influence in chef Ryu’s “hybrid cuisine”, which is inspired by umami, combining classic tastes with contemporary techniques. The “hybrid” in his cuisine is a touch of the French and Japanese in technique yet traditional in flavour with ingredients mostly sourced from Korea. This is no surprise given Ryu’s training, born in Busan, he trained in Japan, Australia and London, the latter of which Ryu trained with Gordon Ramsey, and stints at Umu and the Fat Duck in Bray.
The dish that typifies chef Ryu’s hybrid cuisine was the Black Silky Fowl “Ginseng”. The broth of this dish reveals several layers of flavour with each spoonful, from intense ginger to a nutty undertone courtesy of the wild mushrooms from Goesan. The broth was so good you feel like it’s actually good for you, admittedly this could be the case, given the many health benefits and therapeutic properties of ginseng.
One of the most surprising dishes is arguably not a dish, the sorbet titled simply as “Pine Needle”, is perhaps the most inventive palate cleanser I have ever had. The pine needle flavoured sorbet sits in a pool of verdant pine juice accompanied by slices of red kiwi, pine nuts, pomegranate and delicate pomelo segments.
Ryunique is a jewel in Seoul’s culinary offer, it is a wonderful showcase of regional Korean produce and a celebration of nature. Eating at Ryunique reminds me of the words of Albrecht Durer, “It is indeed true that art is omnipresent in nature, and the true artist is he who can bring it out”.
Written by Alex Scott for Luxuria Lifestyle