[food] Normal by Ryunique

This past week was a long one. I had an insanely busy week at work followed by a Friday-Saturday workshop, and when I returned to Seoul on Saturday afternoon, I was exhausted. But thankfully, there were still some hours left in the day to enjoy – so some good food and good company were necessary.

The man, bless his heart, had searched for some new spots to check out for our dinner and we settled on Normal by Ryunique, a new bistro that’s opened up in Garosugil by Chef Ryu. Chef Ryu already has a restaurant called “Ryunique” that supposedly has an amazing 16 course menu – but for us, Normal was what I sorely needed. But let’s just say normal isn’t what we got – because I’m pretty sure that it’s one of the best meals we’ve had in a while.

First off, the interior is a simple gray and yellow design, and the bistro seats probably 20 people, max. I enjoyed the open-kitchen design, and being able to see our dinner being so attentively prepared.

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There’s something about creations like this that make you truly appreciate the technical skill that goes into preparing flavors and plates. Everything was impeccable, and the server came to our table for each course and explained the ingredients and the method of the dishes.

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We started out with their in-house baked bread, with homemade lemon jam. Very subtle and not overwhelming at all. I will never complain about carbs, I’m sure you know this by now.

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For our order, we started out with the “Tomato Bubble” salad, which is a mix of ricotta cheese and tossed tomatoes (both blanched and raw) with a tomato compote delicately made into “bubbles.” The finishing garnish was freshly chopped basil which really balanced the sweetness of the dish well.

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Next, we had an appetizer with the Cheese Lavioli (ravioli?). By far my favorite dish of the night, where I bit into a piece and automatically my facial expression changed. The filling was a cream cheese filling, with some honey – but surprisingly not overwhelmingly sweet. There was a good amount of sauce, and the pasta was cooked perfectly.

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For our main course we had the pork jowl with green chili salsa. I love pork jowl, and its crispy exterior was done to perfection, and the green chili added a nice kick of flavor to the dish. The man’s favorite part, however, was the vegetables. That’s saying something, because he’s a carnivore through and through, but his words, not mine: “I didn’t know that vegetables could taste so good.” It came with a side of zucchini, mushrooms, beautifully done cherry tomatoes, and eggplant.

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As you know, we both suffer from cases of the sweet tooth, so we weren’t going to go and skip dessert. We opted for the coffee crumble mousse, which was very reminiscent of a tiramisu. The plating was done beautifully, and the flavors were all very intense, allowing for us to enjoy mixing and matching the combinations.

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Now, we’re big proponents of sometimes just having cereal for dinner – but this was special. There’s something to enjoying the complexities of food and really enjoying it. We were very appreciative of the chef and his plating skills as well as the natural flavors that we’d maybe forgotten about when we get stuck in the daily cycle of eating the same things within a certain set span of time.

So all in all, it was a great weekend. Because sometimes it’s not about the majority, but about the little parts and pieces that bring it all together.

To head to Normal by Ryunique, head to Garosugil (next to Sinsa station, line 3). Located on the street left of the main Garosugil road, you’ll find the restaurant on the second floor about halfway down.

520-8, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 02-6405-9279
Open 12-10:30pm, last order is at 9pm.

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