Being a blogger I know a lot of people in the restaurant industry, mainly because they are people who like to talk about food as much as I do. One of my best foodie friends, Ryan Wesley Phillips, just opened up his first restaurant and invited me to come and give it a try. I have known Ryan for years now, the native Texan is a culinary professor and also runs his own farm, which started on his rooftop (he actually grew ears of corn in paddling pools) before moving to a proper field years later. I have been to many of his pop ups and eaten dinners that he has hosted made with his own freshly grown produce, so when I found out he was opening up a brick and mortar place I was absolutely thrilled.
The restaurant is located in Jamsil, nearby what used to be known as Sincheon station, but is now Jamsilsaenae . The Texan BBQ joint is set over two floors, with a healthier grab and go cafe concept downstairs, and a more traditional BBQ restaurant upstairs. The menus are the same, and you can eat whatever you like wherever you like but it is set to target different crowds. Walking down the street you will see the old American style sign, if that doesn’t grab your attention, the meat in the windows most certainly will; the smell was intoxicating. On the ground floor is the large open kitchen where all the smokers are kept, chef Ryan actually builds these himself and they have been used by BBQ restaurants in the city so it just does to show you the level of dedication this man has to smoked meats.
As I knew we were in for such a mammoth feast I brought along two of my best eating friends, Arkansas girl Laura, and fellow Brit Lizzy. We put ourselves in Ryan’s hands that day, so didn’t pick anything off the menu ourselves, however the food just kept on coming and coming, exactly how I like it. They are still in their soft opening phase so some items may vary, also the portion sizes may have been tinkered with to suit our group, so the prices are a guide, but you can always contact them to confirm anything you are not sure of. The first thing we started with was a drink. They have a large variety of beers and bourbons, though for some reason I can’t seem to fathom we weren’t drinking that day and ordered the homemade Southern Ice Tea ( 3,000) and Fresh Lemonade (4,000). In this heat the Iced Tea was ultra refreshing, especially as it wasn’t too sweet, though there is sugar syrup if you like it that way. The lemonade was sweeter than the tea, but again not overly so, with a nice zingy sourness to it. I think you could make the perfect drink by mixing the two and making an Arnold Palmer.
First up was the lunch special Texas Platter for Two (22,000) which came with pulled pork, two homemade yeast buns, two kinds of sausage, potato salad and coleslaw. This platter was such a great start, the pulled pork was really on point, you could taste the hickory smoked flavour and the barbecue sauce that encased it was just the right mix of sweet, smokey and spicy. The yeast rolls are made to Ryan’s great-grandmother’s recipe, personally I found them a bit on the dense side, but I appreciate they hadn’t just bought them in and went for something a little different. The accompanying coleslaw and potato salad were pretty standard, however the sausages were orgasmic; I’ll be talking about them more below.
On to the sausages. The sausages are made in house by fellow Brit Dai Billington, I have known Dai from my visits to the bar at the British Embassy, but had no idea he was such an astute sausage maker. British food in Seoul is seriously underrepresented, especially since my favourite bar Bulldogs closed down. There are a couple of sausage platters on the menu they range from (15,000 – 33,000), I believe ours was something in between. The star of the show was the beautiful Cumberland sausage which sat on top of a bed of caramelised onions. This sausage was so good, it was like a taste of home melting in my mouth. The sausage had a lovely sage flavour which reminded me so much of my grandmother’s pork Christmas stuffing. There were a couple of different varieties of this lovely sage sausage, one smoked and one not, along with a cheddar and jalapeno sausage, which had a nice kick without being too much. We especially loved the sweet and rich caramelised onion, the sausage and onion paring was orgasmic, especially if you added a little of their homemade mustard. I am so glad we tried these, as I never would have thought to order a sausage platter at a BBQ restaurant, in fact I only usually eat sausages if I’m in the UK as I can’t stand the Korean or American kinds you get here, so this was a rare treat and a lovely surprise. I really can’t praise them enough, and was very close to taking some home.
After the first two platters you would have thought we would have had enough, but out came the third. Spare ribs (28.000), Belly Pork (21,000), Chicken (15,000) and Brunswick Stew (3,500). There was also a Garden Salad (4,000), but I was too full of meat to even consider trying it. The spare ribs had a very flavourful dry rub on them which clung to the outer layer, I love that with spare ribs you really need to gnaw at them to get the meat off. We were getting really full by this point so it was hard to appreciate the chicken and belly pork as much as we might have had we not been stuffed. One thing I will say about the belly pork is that you could really taste that it was a premium meat, one thing that sets this place apart is that they are using high quality Sunseo Omega 3 rich animals which are raised on green grass on a local farm. I brought some of the leftover home for my husband to try and he remarked how good it was. The stew was also quite tasty, I first tried this at fellow Food Blogger Zen Kimchi’s restaurant (which sadly closed) and happy to have it again.
I thought we were really stuffed but then my highlight of the meal came about Pork Belly Ribs (28,000 for two). These were indescribable, and absolutely monstrous in size. So juicy, the fat just melted into the moist meat, it was incredible. I was so full but I didn’t leave a single bit of meat left on that bone, I think I was scared someone might take it away from me if I stopped eating it. It might seem pricey for two but they are really large and well worth the extra money. An honorable mention also needs to go to the Corn Fritters (4,500). You guys know me and my deep fried goodies, so I was all about them, especially when they were dipped into the accompanying homemade ranch.
Like any good southern host, Chef Ryan was not going to be happy until he had fed us dessert, so we filled what little space we had left with Bread Pudding & Peach cobbler (both 12,000 each). Both desserts came topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I loved the texture of the bread pudding, and the flavour from the peaches in the cobbler. They were reasonably similar but if I had to give an edge it would be to the peach cobbler. I felt they were a tad expensive for a dessert, but I guess there aren’t many other restaurants in town serving it so if folk have a hankering for it, I am sure they won’t mind paying that little bit extra for it.
Overall I loved the meal, I always enjoy BBQ as there is something so honest about the food and I love getting my hands dirty and covered in meat juice. The quality of the meat was also fantastic. I have been to the other BBQ joints in town and enjoy them immensely but I feel this place is bring something new into the equation which makes it well worth the trip across to Gangnam for. My friends both really enjoyed it so much that they have both been back since, and I plan to go again myself next week. One further note is that they have takeout boxes, so not only can you get it to go, you can also take it along with you if you are heading to a baseball game at the nearby stadium.
Ryan’s Smokehouse is located at 37 Baekjegobun-ro 9-gil, Jamsilbon-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Sincheon / Jamsil Saenae Station (line 2) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight and take the first left turn. Walk straight down that street and you will see Ryan’s Smokehouse on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-420-9669 or check out their Instagram account.