Ryo-In Shikdang (려인식당)
Such is the pace of change in Haebangchon, the little favela I have called home for nearly five years, that I’m a bit jaded by the plethora of new places around here and Gyeongnidan that open up, serve mediocre or baffling food, and then close a year or so later. So when a small restaurant pops up that’s selling good-quality, honest and non-bullshitty food, it’s worth giving it a little love.
One such new place is Ryo-in (려인식당), which opened about six weeks ago in a residential street just up the hill behind Bonny’s Pizza. It was a surprise to see a restaurant emerge on a spot where there had never been anything other than apartments, but after I saw a favourable review (from the erstwhile owner of the late lamented Baby Greek), and given that it’s literally at the end of my street, I decided to pop in.
Ryo-In is a 덮밥 restaurant, and most of its menu items are Japanese-influenced meals served on rice – chicken, pork, shrimp and the like. There’s some sake and beer on offer as well, including the ever-welcome Asahi.
The 제육덮밥 (spicy pork stir fry) is good – a generous portion of meat, some greens and rice, served up on a Japanese tray with some kimchi and a nice miso soup.
The 치킨가라아게 (soy sauce chicken) is even better – succulent chicken with a sauce made of soy, onion and eggs. I hesitated to order this because it’s so often bland in other places, but this was the best version that I’ve had.
The interior is mostly counter-style seating, so it’s perfect for solo diners popping in for a quick lunch on their way to or from work, as I often am. They also do takeaway meals, which would be perfect for HBC residents who want to relax in front of the TV with a nice homecooked-style meal.
Service is quick and the owners are very friendly, despite my halting Korean.
I’m already well on the way to becoming a regular at this excellent little neighbourhood restaurant. Given the paucity of good non-Western food in HBC, it’s a pleasure to see people making simple but tasty food for a fair price. Ryo-In doesn’t do anything fancy, but what it does, it does well.
Given its location off the main drag, I can’t imagine they have much regular foot traffic, which is all the more reason why I strongly feel that places like this deserve some love and support from the local community. I plan to eat my way through the menu in the coming weeks and warmly recommend it to all Haebangchon residents and visitors. Ignore the lines at Bonny’s and get some rice down you!
- Category: Korean / Japanese
- Price: $$$$
- Must try: Chicken kara-age (치킨가라아게, 7,500 won)
- Subway: Noksapyeong Station (녹사평역) exit 2
- Directions: Walk up to HBC and turn left at Bonny’s Pizza. Walk up the hill past Hill Cafe, Holy Smoke (soon to be La Marmite) and Cafe Jeje. Ryo-In is just after Cafe Jeje on the left.
- Hours: Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch 12-3pm and dinner 4:30-9pm or so, with break time in between. They also have a Facebook page.