My birthday is on the last day of January, and as such, every few years a phenomenon happens where it falls during the Lunar New Year celebrations. This can be a good and bad thing I suppose – I get a few days off work and I get to see my family… but it also happens that Korean relatives don’t really keep track of birthdays, and also my friends are either mostly out of town or spending time with their own families.
It’s easy to throw pity parties for yourself in these types of situations, but I’m fortunate to have the Man who, while unavailable on my actual birthday because of work, took me out to one of my favorite restaurants the next day.
I love Normal by Ryunique because it’s bistro-atmosphere combined with culinary excellence. Best of all, we went on a weeknight with no other customers. So with the quaint little bistro all to ourselves, we feasted on this tasting menu. Our server, as always, was kind enough to explain all of the courses to us in details – I love their love of food here.
We started out with the three amuse-bouche dishes. The first was a lovely steak tartare, garnished with an egg yolk crumble.
Then came my favorite, a quail egg Eggs Benedict with a beet-hollandaise. Absolutely phenomenal.
Our last amuse-bouche was a sous-vide egg with beet garnish, garlic, and bits of aged and dried chicken-breast.
At this point, I’m thoroughly impressed – by Normal and by the man – and can’t wait for the starters. It didn’t disappoint – prawn with chili oil, plated beautifully.
Next came the tomato bubble salad which we’re big fans of. With bits of house-made ricotta cheese, the heirloom tomatoes are tossed in a sweet vinaigrette with bubbles – very whimsical.
Of course, you can’t forget their mini loaves. This girl loves her carbs.
So finally, with the amuse-bouche and the starters done, we started on the actual “courses.” We’re starting to get full at this point which is always the issue with tasting menus, but if you know me – you know that I’m a fighter when it comes to good food.
The butternut squash soup was smooth and poured into the bowl artfully by the server. You can see a bit of the ravioli peeking through – it provided a nice finish after the buttery soup was gone.
Next we had the pork jowl. Most people who know me know that pork is not my favorite meat. I’m not a fan of meat in general but pork is last on the list. However, pork jowl is an exception that I always make. The texture, burst of flavor… they get me every time.
For the main dish, the man and I were torn – but we ended up choosing the aged steak (for him) and the John Dory fish (for me). I did cheat a bit too because whatever the man gets… means I get to eat a good chunk of it… and I fell in love with aged steak. It’s definitely a flavor that I’ve never experienced before and with the cauliflower puree and the braised leek that came with it, it was a main course to end all main courses.
However, my actual main course, the John Dory, was remarkable as well. With the softness of the fish and the crispy fried spinach as a garnish, it provided a great depth of flavor. The fish went well with the clam-based broth that kept the fish succulent.
Last but not least, dessert!
The plating for this was quite impressive. With a matcha base, decorated with rose lychee jelly, and a chocolate covered raspberry sorbet ball, the flavors and textures worked beautifully together.
Ryunique always has wonderful plating and Normal, just because of it’s “bistro” genre, doesn’t let the plating go to the wayside. I will most definitely be going again and again!
Check out my previous post on Ryunique for more pictures of the beautiful dishes.
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.