Ryu’s Kitchen – Creating a Unique Food Experience
Nov30

Ryu’s Kitchen – Creating a Unique Food Experience

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...

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Banh Mi Pho Shop- Your New Fave Ramen Spot in the Fort!  🍜
Aug29

Banh Mi Pho Shop- Your New Fave Ramen Spot in the Fort! 🍜

2017 has been my year of ramen. From Momofuku in New York City, some side street vendor in Vietnam that I can’t pronounce, to High Five Ramen in Chicago, I have been obsessed with the noodles of my college days. (And who am I kidding, most of my 20s as well!) And now we have this amazing creation in Fort Wayne at a local business called Banh Mi Pho Shop)! Although the word ramen comes from the Chinese, there is a heated debate as to whether the dish itself originated in Japan or China. Regardless, instant ramen was invented by the Taiwanese-Japanese Momofuku Ando, and was named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century. The main component of any ramen is steaming hot noodles served in a rich and salty soup broth, but that is where the similarity between our college dorm hot pot ramen and the ramen of today ends. From the broth, to the spices, to the meat, and toppings ramen is vastly different from shop to shop…but that’s what makes it fun for both chefs and diners alike! Banh Mi Pho Shop is located at the former Tom’s Donuts on 1925 Fairfield Avenue and opened this past June. Don’t let its newness fool you, however. It is the sister location of the popular Vietnamese shop, Banh Mi Barista, which opened August 2012 on 5320 Coldwater Road. The original restaurant started with owners Will Le, his sister Thao Le, and niece Hien Le. Thirty-nine-year-old Will has been working in the food industry since high school (including Fort Wayne’s beloved West Coast Grill) and loves to cook. While 30-year-old Thao worked at a pharmaceutical lab in Indy, she always had a love for food and eating out as did her foodie niece, Hien. The original Banh Mi Barista is well known for its phenomenal customer service, amazing bubble teas, and Vietnamese staples such as pho and bánh mì sandwiches. One year ago, Thao took a break to travel. While she grew up in Fort Wayne, she wanted to experience the culinary trends and staples in various parts of the world, including her homeland of Vietnam. Co-owner Hien joined her for a month in Vietnam (as did yours truly for a much shorter stint!). I sat with Thao to ask about her experience in Vietnam this past April. “I was born in Vietnam and still have family in southern Vietnam,” said Thao. “I have always appreciated the unique flavors and textures, but this trip made me expand my taste buds to appreciate northern Vietnamese food as well. I also learned how to make bánh mì (bread) from scratch when I...

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07 Pub – Your New Favorite Place to Hang Out!
Jul26

07 Pub – Your New Favorite Place to Hang Out!

When I first moved to Fort Wayne, I found it interesting that people refer to their neighborhoods by zip code. The ’05, the ’07, etc. It was one of those quirky things like “going to the lake” (which I assumed was one massive lake considering how many people went there) that I never truly understood until I became a fellow “Citizen Wayne” myself! The pride and passion with which people identify their neighborhoods is remarkable to see and as Fort Wayne starts to witness a revitalization of the downtown area, the residents of the ’07 are certainly a huge part of that.   If you live, work, or drive through the ’07 you will have noticed a recent addition that graces the streets of Broadway. The new, aptly named 07 Pub opened with little fanfare in early June and has been hopping ever since!   I popped into the pub to chat with owner Marcus Spillson to get the scoop on the Pub. Marcus grew up in Fort Wayne, his parents both went to South Side High School, and he was a ’99 graduate of Bishop Luers, where he played football with his co-owner and partner in the pub, Clancy Shank (’97 graduate of Bishop Luers).  Marcus has always had a passion for the south side of Fort Wayne and although he left for ten years, when he came back for a wedding in town, he was drawn to a bar (the former Lombardo’s Lounge) that was for sale. The oil and gas company he worked for in Houston had just been sold and he was intrigued by this new possible venture. “I kept thinking about it and the next day I went and put an offer in. They countered, and the next think I knew, I owned a bar!”   The food and drink industry is in Marcus Spillson’s DNA. His great-grandfather, Nick Spillson, owned Berghoff Gardens, and was the proud holder of Fort Wayne’s very first liquor license after prohibition ended. A cut out from the newspaper article from April 6, 1933 is prominently on display at the pub. Marcus’ grandfather owned Fort Wayne’s famous 4 star French restaurant, Café Johnell, and his father ran the kitchen at Johnelli’s Pizza. Marcus’ first job was washing dishes at Café Johnell. With his family history, it is easy to see how Marcus came to be the owner of the bar, but he was quick to point out that this wasn’t just any bar. “I wanted a neighborhood bar. I wouldn’t have done this anywhere else but here in the south side of Fort Wayne. We live in this neighborhood,...

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Bandidos – The New Generation
Jun06

Bandidos – The New Generation

If you are from Fort Wayne, you are no doubt familiar with the Bandidos chain of Mexican restaurants with their brightly colored buildings. But, you may not be aware of the recent change in concept of the Fort Wayne famous chain. I am not originally from Fort Wayne, so when I met with current owner Jimmie Schindler II, I asked him about the background of the restaurant.  I was surprised to hear that Bandidos had originally started as a pizza joint called Jimmie’s Pizza that was owned and operated by Jimmie’s dad, Jimmie Sr. It had several locations throughout Fort Wayne. In the ’80s, Jimmie Sr. and his wife went out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and took note of the line around the block for what they considered passable Mexican fare. At the time there were very few Mexican restaurant options in Fort Wayne. This gave Jimmie Sr. the idea to start Bandidos in the ’80s and capitalize on the demand for Mexican food in Fort Wayne. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Notre Dame and his MBA at Purdue, he took over the Bandidos franchise from his dad in March 2013. Jimmie had interned for Domino’s in Ann Arbor, which gave him a number of ideas for their own family run business that he was excited to bring to fruition. “I was born and raised in this business,” Jimmie told me. “That lady that just seated us? She changed my diaper as a baby.” Talk about growing up in the family business! So what makes Jimmie tick? “Jesus, family, and tacos. In that order.” He wants something that he, his wife, Katie, and their three kids (Cecilia, Johannes, and Martin) would be proud of. “My wife is a scientist, and I sell tacos.” Just as his dad was many years before, Jimmie is a big proponent of listening to what his guests want and delivering. “The recipes are good, we have a number of Mexican chefs or even employees who get recipes from their relatives for us to recreate in our restaurant. What I kept hearing was our guests’ desire for the ingredients to be more transparent.” When Jimmie looked through the survey results, over 95% of their guests felt that freshness was important. The overwhelming majority were concerned about preservatives, quality, and customization. “In today’s world of so many food intolerances, it is important that we shift to meet our guest’s demands.” This is why they have customizable “build your own” options like the build your own bowl that I created complete with rice, shredded chicken, pico de gallo, bell peppers, and hot salsa. Even...

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Fort Wayne Food Tour –  Eat, Walk, Enjoy!
Mar27

Fort Wayne Food Tour – Eat, Walk, Enjoy!

This past Friday I was privileged to be a part of the inaugural Fort Wayne Food Tour, which was founded by Fort Wayne native and historian, Randy Harter and his daughter/digital marketing guru, Sarah Arnold.  The tour takes you through downtown Fort Wayne to eat tapas style portions at various local restaurants. Join me on my journey as I eat and tour the Fort! My tour, which consisted of 12 guests and Randy as our fearless guide, started at Don Hall’s Gas House. While I am a huge foodie and love to eat out, I normally choose the Deck (the outdoor patio across the parking lot of the Gas House overlooking the river) or even Takaoka (the entertaining Japanese hibachi restaurant upstairs) so I was excited to try something new. Our first course did not disappoint! Don Hall’s Gas House is famous for its steak and potatoes so that is exactly what they served.  A perfectly cooked filet mignon broiled at 1800 degrees topped with a garlic-herb butter, flavorful melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms seasoned to perfection. Also included was a sample tasting of a 2011 Footbolt Shiraz that paired very nicely with the steak. My favorite part was when Don Hall’s grandson Ben came out to regale us with tales of the restaurant. Apparently Don Hall was obsessed with a restaurant in Chicago called George Diamond Steakhouse. So much so that he copied it right down to the uniforms and chairs. In fact, the chairs are the original from when the restaurant opened 59 years ago! It is in the site of a historic gas plant, which is where its name comes from. After sampling our first dish, it was great to stretch our legs and start the walking portion of our tour. As an added bonus it was a sunny 74 degrees, but Randy assured us that if it ever did rain he came equipped with ponchos.  The tour covered a 1.25 mile loop and was a very easy walk –  I did it in heels! (Although I am a professional shorty…the recommendation is to wear shoes that would be comfortable for a mile walk.) Randy brought history to life as he regaled us with stories about the Wabash and Erie Canal (we literally stood in the middle of where the canal used to be), the former German-American bank, which was renamed Lincoln National Bank & Trust Co due to anti-German sentiment during WWI, and perhaps the most harrowing was a story of how Anthony Wayne’s bones came to their final resting place after the flesh was boiled off of them. While I am not from Fort...

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