Many of Melbourne’s best Chinese restaurants aren’t very glamorous, but Ruyi goes against the grain. In an alleyway just of Chinatown, there’s not a formica table in sight at this moodily lit restaurant with its Hecker Guthrie designed blonde wood interior highlighted with vintage tiles and custom made stone tableware.
I went there with Meat-and-Three-Veg for a quick pre theatre meal and managed to snag a walk up table, but you’re best to book here as it’s pretty popular. The menu includes dishes from across China’s many regions with a contemporary spin.
There’s Ruyi’s take on Szechuan eggplant – reinvented as crispy “eggplant fries” ($12) with just the right amount of tongue tingling spice. Instead of san choi bao, Ruyi serves up “lettuce cups” ($6 each) filled with minced seafood, celery and XO sauce. The crisp lettuce is a great foil for the sweet seafood mixture. Pork and chive dumplings ($12) have a great backpacker tan from the frying pan and are nicely crisp on one side while the filling is light and moreish.
While certainly not traditional, the caramelised pork spare ribs ($26) are fabulous with a sticky, sugary sauce coating the slow cooked meat which has us licking our fingers. Ruyi is a great restaurant for a sneaky date night or when you want to eat Chinese which has style alongside substance.
Details: Ruyi, 16 Liverpool Street, Melbourne (Ph 03 9090 7778)