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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Baan Thai Joins North Anthony Corridor
May16

Baan Thai Joins North Anthony Corridor

Recently North Anthony Corridor gained some delicious and exotic cuisine by way of Baan Thai Restaurant. The restaurant has been a foodie favorite in Fort Wayne for 14 years and had previously been at a smaller location in the Jo-Ann Fabric shopping center on Coldwater Road. While Baan Thai is my favorite Thai restaurant, I am certainly not biased…it has won Fort Wayne Newspapers Reader’s Choice for Best Thai in Fort Wayne for the last seven years in a row! Owner Pete Rugsaken has cooking in his DNA. His dad was a chef and his mom was a chef, so of course he attended Ball State University to be a ….engineer. Bet you didn’t see that coming. But while Pete was attending college he worked at restaurants to support himself. For three years upon graduation he worked in engineering and absolutely hated it. His true love was in the restaurant industry and, lucky for us, he chose to move to Fort Wayne to start up the beloved Baan Thai. In a town that has no shortage of restaurant options, the thing that makes Baan Thai stand out is its combination of fresh ingredients, fragrant dishes adorned with carved vegetable art, a flavor profile that dances on your tongue, and the friendliness of the staff. The restaurant is home to 15 employees who are from all parts of the world including Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and Burma. According to Pete the secret to getting good quality service from your employees is to treat them like family. By caring for them, they in turn care for the restaurant and want to see it succeed. This is showcased in the way they care for their customers. Every time I visit for my dose of garlic tilapia (Thai hot, natch) I am greeted by name with a huge smile..its the little things, but it truly makes you feel like family. Being of Sri Lankan descent, I am always curious to know if ethnic food that is served in Fort Wayne is authentic or if it is Americanized. I asked Pete and he said that similar to most countries Thailand has distinct regions, which prepare food differently. Southern Thailand serves very spicy coconut-based curries, Northeastern Thailand serves spicy yet simple fare, Northern Thailand serves boiled foods with little coconut but lots of herbs, and Central Thailand serves refined dishes often infused with Chinese ingredients and a mixture of sweetness versus only spiciness. The food of Central Thailand is that which is served most predominately in American Thai restaurants and what Baan Thai serves as well. Pete said Baan Thai’s food is authentic, but oftentimes there...

Read More