Review: Ryunique

28 November 2015

That was a crazy night… I woke up in a dark room in late morning, holding my head… Hangover is an understatement… I ended up just sitting in the dark for hours, throwing in a long, hot shower in between stints of mental paralysis… Well, that’s the price I pay for going so crazy. Every trip has one of those, and this was a doozy…

I ended up skipping lunch that day as I just didn’t feel up to doing much. So instead I threw my lot into my dinner plans, as I had a booking at Ryunique this evening. Now Ryunique kind of snuck up on a lot of people when it ended up on the 100 Best list at #79 — just above two of my favourites, Daniel in NYC and Joe Beef in Montréal. So it was good to check it out for myself, having not spoken to anyone who has eaten there.

I made my way down to Gangnam once again, now my hangover is pretty much gone. I got there at about 6pm and was seated. I stuck to a house white as I didn’t feel a bottle would work — and they didn’t necessarily have a pairing programme. But I did notice that when it was the server (as opposed to the manager) pouring the wine, the pours were beyond stingy…

Not many choices for the set menu (choice of beef or fish), but I added the supplemental dish. Considering I had no lunch, not a biggie. I enjoyed some more wine when the procession of amuses bouche began, starting with an interesting goat cheese thing on a tree.

AB1-2

That was followed by marinated shrimp. Both were interesting, you can tell they are just trying to be experimental here, though one issue — they really need to have better explanation of the food. I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying. I know I’m in South Korea, but there is not a lack of young English speakers in this town… Then the next was a stuffed shell of something I could not understand…

AB3-4

That was followed by some Iberico and some dried kimchee. Not sure the latter worked… Then the fifth was the most interesting one (and beautiful), a selection of mushroom, honey wrapped in starch, and stuffed cucumber.

AB5b-stuffed_cucumber-mushroom-honey

Then finally, a smoked oyster.

AB6a-oyster

Of the six, the shrimp and these last two were the best. I think they may be just trying to keep up with other places on the San Pellegrino list, as the amuses are getting crazier and crazier… In any case…

Had a good wine pour (manager) and then the first course arrived, the hoe (sashimi).

01a-red snapper

Red snapper, the most usual item you will see in Korea. Not bad, but nothing too special. Beautiful plating, but probably didn’t need all the miscellaneous such as the herb puree and cucumber foam. I guess I’m too much of a traditionalist for this dish. In any case, next up was a take on the traditional samhap (an “extreme” Korean surf-and-turf type of thing).

02-samhap

This was a nice dish, comprised of terrine of pig trotter (jokbal), braised shiitake, scallops and a variety of sauces. Very interesting. Nice dish, I like the play on tradition here. Then next up was the foie gras dish (which was supplemental).

03-foie

Not bad at all, though the eel was a nice touch. Worked pretty well, so far I am enjoying this meal — although the wrong wine was poured and they needed to change my glass. They need to work on the FoH a bit here to be ranked so high… Then Chef Tae Hwan Ryu came out to plate the next dish at my table…

04b-quail

He presented his signature dish, the smoked quail. The aroma was fantastic. But to be honest the smoke really was more aroma than taste, as it didn’t permeate enough into the dish. Maybe bring wrapped in jamon didn’t help. An okay dish, but nowhere near that spectacular hay-smoked quail at Ö in Tallinn

I relaxed a little and they brought out a cute grapefruit palate cleanser…

PC-grapefruit

But prob was it took way too long to melt… In any case, the next dish focused on beef.

05a-beef

Honestly the beef was underwhelming. Underseasoned. I know Chef is trying to use other flavours, but it just didn’t bring out the best of the beef. The best part was the “soondae” on top, and I like the playing of traditional Korean dishes. But the beef itself? Meh…sorry… Maybe I should have chosen the fish dish…

I was a little disappointed at this stage with 2 somewhat weaker-than-expected courses to end the savoury part of the menu. Then the “cheese” dish arrived.

06a-cheese

Don’t see much cheese being offered in the land of lactose intolerancy but it was a joy to have some. These were tasty, with a cute presentation. I didn’t get the description again (could not understand what the server said even after asking 3 times…), but it was good. Then a fruit dish.

07-passion fruit

A nice aside of passion fruit. This was very tasty, I liked this. Beautiful presentation too. Then the dessert, which was plated wonderfully — almost cute.

08-dessert

I love the chocolate cream cake and the cute “mushrooms” on this dish, and the cotton candy. Rarely do I praise the dessert but this was one of the best dishes of the night.

PF

I had a calvados with my petits fours and that was very nice to end the night with. Had a good chat with Chef before I settled up and departed — though not until I had a good laugh at these toilet signs…

toilet signs

I headed out with mixed feelings, a lot of it felt underwhelming taste-wise — as opposed to beautiful presentation/plating and being very experimental (especially with the amuse). They are trying very, very hard, and you can see they are set up to compete with the very best of the world. But honestly, it’s not there yet. The issue of seasoning needs to be addressed. Unless the other spices and flavours used are more intense, you need to use some form of salt. And again, no hint of spiciness at all tonight, which was another anomaly from Korean cuisine. When Chef played off Korean traditional dishes, it was fab — but when the items were too fused it got messy. And service, well, that needs some work…

They are trying hard, and I can see them becoming one of the best in Asia once they fully figure out the gameplan. But until then, I think it’s not quite as good as some would assume. Not much competition of this kind in Seoul (yet) so they can work on it, but it’s nowhere near in comparison with places as close as Tokyo or Hong Kong.

Well, that closes my Seoul account. Back to Tokyo tomorrow!

Ryunique [류니끄]
520-1 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea

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2 thoughts on “Review: Ryunique

  1. Those are nicely presented but yes I don’t see it yummy. I agree with you with the toilet signs very funny I wouldn’t mind having those haha!

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