If you’ve driven down the State and Hobson Road area the last few months you have most likely noticed two things: First, the seemingly never-ending construction (that is finally cleared up!) And second, the appearance of a cute new place called Ryu’s Kitchen. With bright colors, an open dining area with a counter bar, and motivational wall inscriptions, it is a very welcoming restaurant. The friendly staff makes it even more so. Ryu had its soft opening at the end of August and has been delighting customer’s palates ever since. With a 4.9/5 rating on Facebook and a 4.5/5 rating on Yelp, I was incredibly excited to check it out!
I met with owner Joohyun Riddle, née Ryu who has a true love for food. Born and raised in South Korea, Joohyun was a food nutrition major when studying in Korea. Not only did she learn the importance of the nutrition behind the dishes she now serves, she worked as a food stylist for commercials and learned to make the dishes look appealing as well, which is very important in today’s Instagram savvy society, where the aesthetics of the food adds to the overall enjoyment. She came as an international student to Long Beach, California where she had exposure to a variety of Asian foods that she missed when she moved with her husband, Josh Riddle, to his hometown of Marion. This brought about a Korean restaurant they opened in a mall in Marion six years ago. Luckily they moved to Fort Wayne and added to our ethnic food scene.
I asked Joohyun if Ryu’s menu was traditional Korean food. “The young generation of Koreans make food simple. It has good flavor, is good looking, and has Korean based sauces,” Joohyun was quick to point out. While there are traditional dishes, such as Bulgogi, there are also a number of dishes that they have customized to bring a Korean twist to Fort Wayne. “I like to find my own niche and way to make a dish. I want people to know the new generation of Korean, not just the old-style way. I started doing dinners with our friends and did tasting menus with them to see what was popular.”
Ryu accommodates a variety of dietary needs and has a number of vegetarian dishes including a new Tofu Rice Noodle dish and a Tofu Bulgogi dish. For my gluten free friends, any of the noodle or bulgogi dishes can be made gluten free and they even make separate sauces that are gluten free with which to cook. Joohyun also utilizes fresh, local ingredients in order to amp up the flavor and if spicy is what you are looking for, they have a number of levels of spice ranging from mild to extra spicy. There’s a roasted hot Thai pepper at the table that you can mix for additional flavor if you want to step up your spice game even further. I tried the Shrimp Rice Noodle and it came out in the same dish for everyone regardless of spice and then you can bring it to your desired level of spice. I think that’s pretty ingenious, because my definition of spicy is much hotter than most. All the dinners come with side dishes of kimchi, cabbage salad, and a fried dumpling with lemon sauce so that customers can sample a variety.
On one visit our server gave us samples of the Iced Misu Tea to try. All three of us had not ordered that particular tea, because the description said roasted grain tea, which didn’t sound appetizing. I am so glad they gave us a free sample, because it was delicious! I couldn’t quite place the taste, but both of my fellow taste testers came up with the same exact description. You know when you eat Frosted Mini Wheats, but the best part is the milk that is left behind? That is exactly what it tastes like. So good!
Ryu’s menu will continue to evolve and each week they will do a special to showcase new items to customers. Earlier this month they added Yukgaejang (a spicy beef soup with vegetables) and I keep stalking their Facebook page to see if one of my husband’s favorite dishes, Bibimbap, [pi.bim.pap] is coming soon. They wanted to start with a simple yet diverse menu so that it wasn’t overwhelming to customers. “When I go back to Korea I go to the new places that have good reviews to see what the different styles are.” Joohyun reflected. “People want to enjoy the food and feel welcome. That’s what we want to provide.”
Ryu is located at 2461 Hobson Road and its hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 11 AM – 2:30 PM for lunch and 4:30 PM – 8PM for dinner. Lunch specials range from $7.50-$8.50, and dinner ranges from $9.99-$12.50. Drinks are under $2 and include Korean coffee as well as a variety of teas. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for special dishes or promotions as they continue to add to their menu. If you are looking for a gift idea for the holidays, they now have gift cards as well!