The other day somebody asked me the meaning of “speakeasy”. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, so I asked around and I read some. I researched. Well, apparently the term refers to an “illegal establishment that sells alcoholic beverages” and people spoke quietly (hence “speak easy”) about such places so as not to alert the law enforcers. This was back in the 1920’s in the US where this started. The trend was revived in the late 2000’s and the term “speakeasy” has now expanded to include retro bars. Now speakeasies generally refer to unique establishments (bars, lounges) that are exclusive and exude an almost clandestine air about them.
Ruyi & Lyn is sometimes called a speakeasy, a lounge, a bar, a restaurant. To me, it’s a combination of all these and more. Occupying a prime location atop Bangsar Shopping Centre spanning 22,000 sq ft, this latest entrant in KL’s wine, dine and party scene is huge, to say the least. Like I said, it’s a combination of many things: flamboyance, elegance, retro, boldly modernistic – it can be as public or as private as you wish. And therein lies the meaning of “Ruyi” – “as you wish/desire”. Lyn, of course is the gorgeous owner of the place.
With such a huge floor space, Ruyi & Lyn offers an eclectic mix of relaxation-culinary-entertainment options. There’s the main bar, the lounge, cigar lounge, several private rooms (one has a pole too, as in pole-dancing!), karaoke rooms, balcony terrace and of course the restaurant, which transforms into a club lounge after 10pm complete with an illuminated diamond-shaped DJ console and sophisticated lightings. The whole place is decked out in designer furniture (some quite funky), state-of-the-art lighting and exudes showy class in every corner.
The moment you step beyond the sliding door into Ruyi, the dining space, be prepared for the dazzling spotlight shining on you and that’s when you look down and realise you are walking on a red-carpeted slightly-raised platform. Talk about making a grand entrance, Ruyi does that – making every customer feel like a star! And if ever conversation wanes at your dining table, you can still get entertained by the huge screen on the wall where Rihanna or Beyonce will be gyrating their sexy hips. Yes, they think of everything at Ruyi.
By now, you may already be familiar with the spate of Instagram photos of Ruyi’s famous sushis. Incredibly photogenic, the 6 pieces of sushi-sized Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak and Mango Sticky Rice are very tasty too.
Ruyi’s Sushi (RM43) the nation’s smallest combo of sushi made up of Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak and Mango Sticky Rice
My favourite is the Hainanese Chicken Rice – that small piece of it contains all the right elements: fragrant slightly-oily rice, tender succulent boneless chicken complete with dollops of authentic kickass chilli and ginger dips.
Likewise, the Nasi Lemak and Mango Sticky Rice are both executed perfectly, in terms of flavours and ingredients. Hey look, the nasi lemak even has two nicely-fried quail eggs, peanuts, sambal and tiny anchovies to complete the ensemble.
Ruyi describes their food as “modern Chinese” and some of the pork-free dishes incorporate some special twists. The kitchen is helmed by Chef James Ho whose plating skills present photogenic dishes that are irresistible to cameras. Names of dishes are at times whimsical and at times reflect pomp and myths. I had fun reading the names and associating them with the dishes.
The menu is listed in various categories. Ruyi’s Sushi is under “Tapas” and so are these:
Bali Beach (RM53) Softshell crabs with pomelo sauce
Pokemon’s Prawns (RM63) Deep-fried with wasabi mayo, mango and ebiko
Taizi’s Dish (RM98) Pan-seared foie gras with caramelized watermelon
Under “Soups”, I tried…
Unicorn’s Bait (RM68) Fresh abalone with clear spicy soup
Tropical Dreams (RM42) Double-boiled seafood coconut soup
The “Seafood” category has the most items and these are just some of them…
Nessie (RM58) Baked large river prawn with miso cheese sauce – this was unfortunately over-baked.
Passionate Scallops (RM78) Pan-seared with edamame and pumpkin sauce – one of my favourites!
Nemo (RM88) Steamed snow fish fillet with preserved vegetables
Black Beauty (RM138) “Soon Hock” topped with black truffles and braised to perfection – very delicate flavours that did well to match the sweet tender flaky fish
Samurai Snow Fish (RM148) Deep-fried with Japanese Yakiniku sauce – this reminds me of fish & chips.
For “Meat & Poultry”, check these out…
RFC – Ruyi Fried Chicken (RM58) almond-coated fried chicken with prawn paste served with plum chilli sauce
Happy Beef Cheeks (RM88) Braised with radish and bean sauce – really fork-tender!
Journey’s End (RM138) Pan-seared Australian lamb chops with Thai green curry – delightful pairing!
Legendary Duo (RM218) Wagyu and foie gras fried with bell peppers – the bell peppers and fried crullers kinda overwhelmed the wagyu and foie gras
Dragon’s Meal (RM218) Charcoal-grilled wagyu and kimchi spiced with Japanese kombu seaweed… this was one of the highlights of the meal. Chef James Ho executed this perfectly – the wagyu was really to-die-for.
For lighter bites, there are the “Vegetables” where tofu is included…
Old Tofu (RM33) braised with dry scallops in chicken broth – good for those who prefer healthier options
Humpty Dumpty (RM33) Poached spinach in 3 eggs – quite a common dish in Chinese restaurants
Phoenix’s Nest (RM43) Stir-fried mushrooms and lily bulbs with cashew nuts
For the tummy fillers – Rice & Noodles, I enjoyed these:
Journey to the West (RM33) Truffle-infused fried rice with crispy mushrooms and sakura shrimps
A Star in Winter (RM38) – when are noodles not noodles? When they are Melon noodles! Those strands of “noodles” are actually perfectly sheared winter melon, cooked in clear chicken and seafood soup.
Raise the Red Lantern (RM38) Homemade noodles with crab meat and scallops in red vinegar – unique tastes, some may find the vinegar an “acquired taste”!
Chef’s Ebiko Fried Rice (RM43) with seafood and asparagus
Eureka Green Tea Rice (RM48) – fried rice puffs that go “pop” when green tea broth is poured over
Oddly enough, the Desserts here are all western items (RM26 each) except for the Aroi Mak Mak (mango with sticky rice sushi in coconut milk). By this time, I was so stuffed there really was not much tummy space for desserts. I managed to taste these three…
Summer Breeze – Refreshing yoghurt in cucumber sorbet
Twisted Banana Banofee in Oreo Cream
Chocolate Embrace – Warm chocolate parfait
I’d say most of the dishes in Ruyi are pretty balanced in terms of tastes, textures and presentations. My favourites are the Taizi’s Dish with the clever pairing of a typical “prince and pauper” idea – velvety foie gras with a piece of sweet juicy watermelon; Passionate Scallops where edamame and pumpkin makes such an unusual union and Journey’s End where I found that Thai green curry sauce actually goes pretty well with lamb.
So, go on…check out Ruyi & Lyn, take that red carpet walk and try not to blink too much at the dazzling spotlight – this is one moment when you feel all eyes are on you!
Ruyi & Lyn
4th Floor Annexe
Bangsar Shopping Centre
59000 Kuala Lumpur
12.00noon-2.00am Mondays to Sundays
Lunch: 12.00noon-3.00pm (last order at 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6.00pm-2.00am (last order at 11.00pm)
Tapas are available at both Restaurant and Lounge:
12.00pm-12.00am from Sundays to Wednesdays (last order)
12.00pm-12.30am on Thursdays to Saturdays (last order)
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