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 Mr Ryu prescribes an ethos of drawing people together through food and cultural connection, which comes through the menu's emphasis on sharing plates and small dishes that encourage diners to try a variety of options. The restaurant also boasts a wide selection of Japanese whisky, sake and Japanese and local Victorian craft beer. For those planning to do it dry, there is a good selection of coffee, non-coffee lattes and juices. Mr Ryu is the brainchild of owner and head chef Seung Yeop Ryu. Under the guidance of Seung, the kitchen is in safe hands. During the 10 years Seung has lived in Melbourne, his resume has included stints at No.35 in Sofitel as well as being the head chef at Kumo Izakaya. To start we loved the prawn nori taco. Plump and juicy prawns sat atop a crispy nori cracker and was topped with tobiko, micro greens and luxurious spicy thousand island. The gyoza was similarly delicious. A cheeky take on the traditional, this one was crispy and encased with a wagyu cheeseburger mix and served with an addictive caramelized onion ponzu. We loved the freshness of the dishes we tried – none spoke to this more than the fresh oysters served with salmon roe and herring caviar. To follow, the seared salmon with spicy salmon roe, karashi miso, rice bubbles looked as pretty as a picture and was a delight to indulge in. Our favourite dish of the evening graced our presence next – the Eggplant dengaku. It was a well-conceived dish that took full advantage of the eggplant’s most notable characteristic – its supple flesh. The thick pieces of eggplant were adorned with caramelized den miso, sesame and pine nut crumb. The creamy eggplant flesh melted in the mouth in a manner similar to unctuous pork fat. This gem of a vegetarian dish was one that commanded respect. For the unseasonably cold Melbourne weather, Mr Ryu’s ramen is the best cure. The vegetarian ramen is light yet flavoursome with umami laden mushroom shoyu broth, soft boiled egg, bamboo shoots, white fungi mushroom and nori. If you want more of a flavour explosion, then the spicy tan tan ramen is the way to go and features a rich, creamy and nutty broth, sesame chilli flavour and accompanied by customary soft boiled egg, mustard leaf, anger hair and nori. A fresh and exciting venue with a vibrant yet homely feel, Mr Ryu is a wonderful addition to Balaklava’s bustling food scene and is the perfect place to meet with friends, colleagues and loved-ones to enjoy a delicious meal together.

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