Who is Changwoo Ryu? I’m the head chef at Lilotang – Doma Group’s modern Japanese offering in Barton with an entire wall dedicated to Manga.
Best recent dining experience: A little Vietnamese restaurant in Strathfield because I met my family there for dinner after we spent the year apart.
Another one was three years ago when I was working as a chef de parties, and I really wanted to learn how to cook a great steak. When I had a day off, I went to Altitude restaurant in Sydney where my senior chef de partie cooked for me and it was the best steak I’d ever tried.
Since then, I’ve had steak in mind as my goal and one important aspect when I design menus.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Wasabi bean crackers.
Not the cracker itself but I ordered too many and now I keep eating them as a late-night snack.
Must-buy ingredient: Any kind of meat. I am such a carnivore at heart.
Next big thing: Does steak count as a next big thing? It is for me!
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Can I be honest with you? There is no way I’m waking up early enough for breakfast on my days off!
My Canberra food secret: Two Before Ten in Aranda. It’s only a three-minute walk from where I live and it’s a great place to walk with my dog. Plus, they have nice coffee and nice tap beer as well.
Biggest culinary influence: Insup Kim – formerly chef de cuisine at Altitude and currently head chef at Jung Sung in Sydney.
One of the best things I learned from him was his philosophy in the kitchen. His focus is on consistently delivering things well, and he was very strict but very calm.
He also respected the junior cooks in the kitchen and took care of the team. For example, after service on Saturday nights, the whole kitchen team would hang out at a pub to have ‘family time’ which helped us unwind.
Favourite cookbook: The Flavour Bible. It’s not very useful for home cooking, but it’s great when I am putting together a dish for the restaurant and I just know something is missing.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: To be honest, I haven’t been here for long enough to know many faces in the Canberra hospitality scene but I am sure I will meet some!
For now, you’ll probably find me hanging out with my dog at home.
What’s on the menu this week: Well, the menu at Lilotang is actually brand new, so that’s exciting.
Classic favourites like popcorn shrimp with chilli mayo and wagyu brisket MB8 and soy glaze have made a return, though.
Where I’m going next: Jung Sung in Sydney. It only opened last year and I’m keen to try modern Korean cuisine.
Death row meal: Ooo. I’m not sure!
COVID-19 response: It was difficult for me personally, like it was for everyone. But on the positive side, it did give me lots of time to focus on creating dishes for Lilotang’s new menu.
My really simple recipe tip: Seasoning! Even dead food can be brought back to life.
Lilotang is located at 1 Burbury Close in Barton. It’s open for lunch on Tuesday to Friday between 12 pm and 3 pm and dinner on Tuesday to Saturday from 6 pm.