If not for the delectable bites, people must visit RYU at Gurugram’s 32nd Milestone for its exceptional signature cocktails, says Ayushi Sharma
An American author, Mary Antin, once said, “Among the liveliest of my memories are those of eating and drinking...” Well, I won’t deny it either. Recently, for instance, I, along with three of my friends, each distinct from the other, headed towards Gurugram’s 32nd Milestone. Climbing up a white spiral staircase, we made our way into an Asian-themed bar and diner — RYU.
The dragon was the prime element of the bar that distinctly dominated the first floor’s visuals as the concept creator of the restaurant believes that every dragon has a personality of its own, thus, inspiring people to delve deeper into their layers and exploring different versions of themselves as they relax comfortably at the restaurant.
Walking past the interiors, we moved towards the rooftop and found a comfortable spot — a corner table. But I was overcome with curiosity about the meaning of RYU? To find out the same, I googled the name and came to know that RYU is a fictional Japanese fighting character and the protagonist of Capcom’s Street Fighter series. Sitting under the shade of an intricate Japanese umbrella, I, then, realised that the restaurant is inspired by the culture and tradition of Japan, China and Malaysia. The warm, dim yellow lights and soft music in the background set our mood for the night.
We started with Chilli garlic mushrooms. The tender button mushrooms were tossed in the rich flavour of garlic. The slight pungency could be traced to the vinegar and soya sauce. Though it tasted a little sweet due to the use of caramelised onions. Even though I am not a huge fan of mushrooms, I found myself indulging and going for a second round.
Thai crispy vegetables which had broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, cabbage and cauliflower wok-tossed in lemon, chilli and a few other Thai herbs was served next. To ensure that these remained crunchy even after turning a bit cold, the executive chef Lekh Bhadur Khadga Magar used rice flour. This garlicky, super crunchy dish was certainly the star of the night, not only for me but for my pals as well.
Next up was the Classic veg spring rolls. Served with sweet chilli sauce, these vegetables stuffed crispy tangy rolls were fried to perfection and didn’t have any trace of oil, which usually is the norm in other places. Not high on spices or any kind of excessive flavours, it was comfort food at its best.
I wanted to pair beer with the meal, however, one can’t help but look at the menu when it has a wide range of cocktails to choose from. Taking suggestions from the mixologist Nikit Singh, we ordered around five drinks, each with a different base. While Pandarama was a sweet mixture of vermouth, passion fruit, orange juice, thyme & lime float with flamed absinthe (anise-flavoured spirit) and cinnamon, Sex on the roof had malibu rum, Midori, banana puree, pineapple and lime. It reminded me of the beach while chilling on the rooftop. The third was Smoked popcorn old-fashioned. It was a twist of classic old fashioned incorporated with flavours of popcorn and grapefruit smoked with RYU’s special osmanthus woodchip and Jameson. The fourth — Junglebird, with its strong flavours — made the best impact on my already impressed tastebuds. Another reason was the presentation. It came in a bird-shaped glass, which was surrounded by a nest-like arrangement, which justified its name. A twist to a Malaysian classic, this version infused jackfruit and thyme rum, tiramisu syrup, Campari, pineapple juice and lime. Last, the fifth was gin-based Flower power. It came in wine glasses, shaken with elderflower yuzu, thyme and lemon juice topped with in-house salted coconut foam.
But I was yet to be done with the food, Yasai tempura made its way to my table. This was the vegetarian version of tempura which usually consists of seafood, meat and vegetables battered and deep-fried. But it also had elements of sushi. It had tempura fried asparagus, carrot wrapped with Japanese rice and seaweed flavoured with spicy Japanese mayonnaise. To say the least, sushi is often a disappointment for me but this particular one wasn’t... for sure.
They say an Asian menu is incomplete without dim sums and momos. It’s true! So we tried their Veg momos and Bok choy asparagus. The momos had minced vegetables as the stuffing and were steamed to perfection. The dim sums filling had steamed bok choy, asparagus and coriander. It was served with hot chilli sauce. You know the dim sum, if literally translated, means “touch the heart”. And this one just did that.
We were pretty near saturation and we ordered a Veg kebab platter, which included oven-cooked paneer tikka, malai broccoli and hara bhara kebab. It was served along with mint chutney. While paneer tikka and hara bhara kebab were exactly how they are served everywhere, malai broccoli was the exception. As it is I am fond of broccoli and I have been a fan of cheese for as long as I can remember — it was a perfect fusion for me as it was flavoured with cream cheese.
I must say — if not for the delectable bites, people must visit RYU for its exceptional signature cocktails. In the words of Shyam Thakur, co-founder of the restaurant, “I have always been incredibly passionate about cocktails. The flavours, the skill, the kind of precision that goes inside creating one great cocktail – it’s an art worthy of obsession.”