Ryunique is located in the recently famous Gangnam-Gu district of Seoul. The Beverly Hills of Seoul as some have called it.
The little restaurant holds no more than 12 tables and a kitchen with a huge window to spy on the chefs creating some of uniquely presented dishes in Asia. Chef Tae Hwan Ryu’s restaurant is a play of words and combining his last name with “unique” to symbolize his approach to his craft.
The chef’s avant-garde presentation rivals Alinea’s well-known mastery.
The chef’s avant-garde presentation rivals Alinea’s well-known mastery. Chef Ryu’s technique draws from his experiences of worldwide cuisine and famous kitchens in Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom. Ryu’s dishes are far from traditional Korean dishes as he carves his own path bringing a mix of different worldly cuisines back to Seoul. The young chef’s approach has earned him the following accolades:
- #79 on the 2015 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants
- #27 on the 2015 San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
Ryunique is definitely special and his passion shows through his restaurant. The service was fantastic as the chef came to explain the dishes himself several times during the meal. I was a bit taken back as he didn’t do any of this for the other patrons. The Korean wait staff spoke a little better English than the ones at Jungsik and made sure we were comfortable during our dining experiences. The Chef and staff were very humble as I spoke about their recent awards. They didn’t let it get to their head.
The restaurant had a very calm and relaxed atmosphere with a huge window to people watch during your dining experience. The restaurant’s decor resembles the Chef’s plating technique as each choice of flowers and the use of natural light to create relaxing dining experience.
The tasting menu didn’t have any hint of Korean cuisine and the flavors were far from traditional Korean. It was worldly mix predominantly French with hints of Japanese in its arsenal. The playful presentation of the dishes reminded me of some of the dishes that made Alinea famous.
- Amuse-Bouche: The dish’s presentation was as peaceful as sitting in the park on a relaxing Sunday afternoon. The seaweed cut to resemble a fallen leaf from a tree topped with a cherry on a rock. The edible plastic bag placed on a pine cone. Both laid on a bed of “grass” inside a wooden dish.
- Quail: The dish was brought out in a smoked filled glass bowl. When the bowl was open, the quail leg was wrapped in bacon and sat on a smoking piece of wood on top of piece of hay inside the smoking bowl. The quail leg was removed and placed along the quail breast. The texture of the quail was far from dry. The flavors were kept well as indicated by the tenderness of the meat.
- Masterpiece: The dessert was presented on a picture frame and looked like a piece of art thrown together by some famous artist. It contained strawberries, kusmi spherical, casein maltodextrin, and caramelized rice ice cream. The kusmi gave the dish a great contrast to the soft textures of the ice cream and strawberries. It wasn’t overly sweet or rich, but had a very vibrant and Spring feeling to it.
Overall, Ryunique is definitely a culinary journey that doesn’t drag as the meal progresses. The meal’s progression flowed well and each dish defined itself. The overly humble Chef making an effort to introduce and please his patrons was a nice touch. It was definitely a meal people should experience and worth the stop while in Seoul. It’s one of the must eats like army stew at Choi-ssi Ajeossi.
Check out our other Seoul articles here.
- Service - 8/108/10
- Presentation - 9/109/10
- Flavors - 8/108/10
- Ambiance - 8/108/10
- Decor - 8/108/10
Ryunique combines modern French flavors with avant-garde presentation. The comfortable dining room with the use of natural light keeps patrons as ease as Chef Ryu takes you on a culinary journey around the world with presentation that rivals Alinea. It’s something that’s not expected in a very traditional city like Seoul.