Normal By Ryunique – Upscale Bistro in Seoul
I love to combine travel with great food and if you have followed my stories for a while you know how much I appreciate great local food. Whether it’s a food tour in Athens, authentic Peking duck in Beijing or a cooking class is Laos, I love to try as much local cuisine as I can when I’m exploring a new country. Living in South Korea definitely has its perks considering the exceptional Korean cuisine. The newly opened bistro Normal By Ryunique in Garosugil was another great opportunity to see what is happening in South Korea’s culinary scene.
STATE-OF-THE-ART CUISINE SINCE 2011
Chef Tae Hwan Ryu was born in Busan but ventured out into the world to find inspiration in the culinary world. He gained years of various experiences at culinary schools and Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo, Sydney, and London and returned to Korea where he opened his own restaurant, Ryunique. Within only three years of launching, Ryunique has respectively won 27th place and 79th place in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is said to be the best restaurant in South Korea.
Since the upscale course menus at Ryunique aren’t something smaller wallets can enjoy regularly, Chef Ryu opened Normal By Ryunique in April 2016, where a 10-course menu costs 80,000 KRW. Also located in Garosugil, the bistro-type eatery allows anyone to sample the impressive food art by Ryu for a fraction of the price compared to Ryunique, where you’ll need to spend 230,000 KRW per person on a signature course menu.
THE RESTAURANT IN SEOUL’S ‘IT NEIGHBORHOOD’
Normal by Ryunique is located in the popular neighborhood of Garosugil in Gangnam. The bistro is located on the second floor above a flower shop on one of the more interesting side-streets of Garosugil. The restaurant is not too far from other popular locations like Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Dr. Jart Flagship Store or Gentle Monster.
From outside, you will notice the big front window with a variety of food items and ingredients beautifully showcased. We later found out that these are all being used in the dishes and stored in the window due to the cool temperatures. The interior is quite small but cozy with an open kitchen. I loved the kitchen because it allowed us to watch the cooks prepare our meals. The staff is bilingual in English and Korean, making it easy for foreigners to follow the introduction of each course.
Amuse 1 & 2
Since we already visited Ryunique, the first restaurant by chef Ryu, we had a vague idea of what to expect from our course menu at Normal. Just like at Ryunique, we started off with ‘Amuse 1 & 2’, two surprise appetizers that turned out to be a delicious raw beef dish (Amuse 1) and an artful dried fish (Amuse 2) with dipping sauce. The food presentation definitely caught our attention and made is hungry for more.
Mushroom Soup & Tomato, Cucumber Salad
Next, we presented with a creamy mushroom soup and crunchy bread to dip. The bread was perfectly baked and not sweet, like you often get at restaurants in Korea. Next followed a tomato and cucumber salad that turned out to be a fruity surprised. Olive oil, figs and homemade goat cheese made this dish one of my favorites of the whole course.
Mushroom Tortellini, Pork Belly & Langoustine Ramen
Another one of my favorites was the mushroom tortellini in duck leg tomato sauce. I thought this was a perfect example of the concept at Normal by Ryunique, to take a new approach on favorite dishes like tortellini. Much to our surprise, the pork belly and apple dish was quite different from the same dish served at Ryunique – but not in a bad way. Apple and pork are such a great combination and we loved what Chef Ryu did with it at Normal. Plus, I thought this dish looked aesthetically amazing with its rich colors. The ramen dish was probably my husband’s favorite as he loves ramen of all kind. The langoustine sauce was amazing and the slow cooked egg added to the rich flavor. These were definitely the fanciest ramen I’ve ever had.
Mains: Strip Loin & Duck
We were excited to have our main dishes presented to us: I had strip loin and my husband chose duck. The duck came with a fruity orange sauce to dip that perfectly goes with the duck. On the side, there was orange powder with grilled artichoke. My strip loin was perfectly cooked medium-rare, nice and pink in the middle. It had broccoli creme and grilled vegetables on the side, which was also perfect to bring out the rich flavor of the meat.
Dessert & coffee
My favorite time of any meal is dessert time. I was excited to read yogurt vanilla mousse on the menu and was certainly not disappointed. The plate looked like a small treasure trove. The best part was that it did not only look amazing but also tasted absolutely delicious. The yogurt creme on the left gave the dish a nice and sour touch. The vanilla pannacotta was an absolute delight of exploding flavors in our mouths. Who doesn’t love the taste of rich vanilla? After the dessert, we could choose between coffee and tea and were also presented with two fig tarts. This truly was the perfect end to an amazing lunch course menu.
THE DINING EXPERIENCE
I had the best time during lunch at Normal by Ryunique. Just like when we visited Ryunique last year, each dish was presented in such a thoughtful and artistic way and introduced informatively by the waiters. If you are looking for a unique food experience or just want to get blown away by Chef Ryu’s and his team’s amazing skills, absolutely visit Normal by Ryunique in Garosugil.
MORE INFORMATION: Normal by Ryunique
Address: 520-8 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Phone: 02-6405-9279 (or check out their facebook page)
Hours: 12 PM – 9PM Mo-Sun
Website: Click Here (Ryunique Website)
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