Entrepreneur

Her Award-Winning Restaurant Proves That Lyn Siew's Not Just "Tai Thong's Granddaughter"

  • Ruyi & Lyn is a modern Chinese cuisine establishment in Bangsar founded by Yng Lyn Siew, whose parents and grandparents founded the Oriental chain of restaurants and the Tai Thong group respectively.
  • Ruyi & Lyn are the creators of Ruyi’s Sushi—the much talked about sushi dish that incorporates the flavours of Nasi Lemak, Hainanese Chicken Rice, and Mango Sticky Rice into bite-sized pieces.

If it works, it works.

At least this is how Yng Lyn Siew—F&B entrepreneur and owner of the much-discussed Ruyi & Lyn—feels about gimmicks.

Those wondering what this particular “gimmick” refers to will only need to look back to no more than two years ago, when the Malaysian foodie Instagram sphere was set abuzz by a certain sushi dish called Ruyi’s Sushi—a platter of three different sushis that incorporated the flavours and textures of Nasi Lemak, Hainanese Chicken Rice, and Mango Sticky Rice.

Like all other things served at Ruyi & Lyn, Ruyi’s Sushi comes at a premium prices—an order of six pieces will cost patrons upwards of RM40, while some other items hover around the RM100 range.

The highly celebrated Ruyi’s Sushi / Image Credit: Ruyi & Lyn

But despite the high price and the “gimmick” label placed on some of their dishes, Ruyi & Lyn are still thriving. The clientele keep coming, and this is simply because they’re doing things differently.

In an interview with MIGF, Lyn explained that the fare found at her establishment is completely unique.

“You can’t find our dishes anywhere else,” she said. “Everything is purely our creation.”

This holds true especially for the more outlandish menu items like Ruyi’s Sushi.

“My chef and I work under a strict philosophy,” she said. “If a dish is forgettable, then forget it.”

Explaining the decision to include Nasi Lemak in the flavour profile of the dish, Lyn attributed it to a “patriotic obsession to create something brave that would make a record of sorts”.

Even the premises of Ruyi & Lyn aim to impress—a 22-thousand square-feet expanse that operates as a restaurant by day, and a swanky watering hole after dark.

The restaurant transforms into a bar/lounge after dark. / Image Credit: Ruyi & Lyn

It’s now clear that if anything, Ruyi & Lyn are best represented by their restaurant and the dishes they serve—loud and unique.

Born For The Business

Born into a family steeped in the F&B industry, Lyn’s career path was practically chosen for her—her parents are the founders of the Oriental group of restaurants, while her grandparents own the Tai Thong brand.

However, she shared in a previous interview that she tried to fight that call.

“I didn’t originally plan to go into the family business or even be in the food industry at all. In fact, I went abroad just to avoid it! But I guess food was part of my destiny.”

She also shared that she doesn’t want to be known as a third generation restaurateur—instead, she wants to be known in her own right as a first generation entrepreneur.

“I won’t deny that there is tremendous pressure to emulate their successes,” Lyn said. “Couple that with my stubborn nature in wanting to learn the hard way, it’s become a process of falling and picking myself up.”

“That said, I am extremely fortunate to have the faith, guidance, and support from my immediate family members—especially my father.”

Lyn also said that she needs to learn to be more forgiving of herself.

“It takes a special degree of strength and perseverance to operate within the Chinese restaurant industry and giving up under pressure is certainly no option. It’s do or die.”

The Learning Curve

Lyn enjoyed excellent Chinese food growing up before going off to spend 15 years abroad working in the TV industry. She only returned home to enter the F&B scene barely three years ago.

Her diverse experience has now taught her a few things when it comes to running a food business.

“I’m proud to have grown up as a Malaysian, as we tend to share good food with others regardless of race and background,” Lyn said.

“That said, I’ve noticed some cultural differences in work ethics between my team in Germany and in Malaysia, but one has to adapt.”

Left: Crab Curry, Right: Carlsberg Prawns / Image Credit: Ruyi & Lyn

One of the most important things Lyn has learned relates to having good team members.

“I used to be incredibly naive when it comes to people by having the biggest benefit of a doubt and I have made some recruitment errors,” she said. “Experience has taught me to identify with all sorts of characters and to see the best and worst in them.”

She also notes the amount of hard work put into achieving her ambitions.

“Realising an ambition takes pure perseverance and hard work,” she said. “The type of resilience you need in every situation as there will be challenges you need to overcome everyday is experience gained.”

“Let’s just say I have grown up 30 years within three years.”

Burning Ambition

So after having spent the last three years working tirelessly, Lyn is proud to have built Ruyi & Lyn into what it is today.

“From a practical sense, having designed Ruyi into a versatile restaurant, dining and event space is probably my best implementation to date,” she said.

“I have actually loaded my eggs into various baskets, and having a vast degree of flexibility in space means we can make the best out of being a restaurant, bar and event space.”

Her efforts have also been recognised by the industry too, scooping up awards from HAPA (Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards) and the Malaysia International Gastronomy Festival.

With so much to work with, Lyn also has big plans for her brand in the coming years—she hopes to evolve Ruyi & Lyn first into a culinary institution, and then expand internationally.

Image Credit: Ruyi & Lyn

“We will be opening our second outlet in The Gardens Mall in August 2018 and we are in talks for global expansion in the fourth quarter,” she explained. “I designed Ruyi to be a modern Chinese culinary institution—to bring sexy back to the Chinese food industry by innovating tradition for the next generation of diners.”

“My ultimate goal for Ruyi is for it to evolve into a global talent platform for those who are passionate in being a part of the Chinese culinary world,” she added.

She also hopes for her brand to give back to the community by becoming a source of Malaysian pride.

“At slightly older than two years old, we’ve already done some crazy stuff—from creating the world’s most expensive Yee Sang to the world’s smallest Nasi Lemak, and being a plot centrepiece in Chapman To’s Chinese New Year feature ‘Let’s Eat’.”

Looking at what her business has accomplished thus far, it looks like she’s on the right track.

  • For more updates on Ruyi & Lyn, check out their website or their Facebook page.
  • Address: 4th Floor Bangsar Shopping Center,
    No. 285, Jalan Maarof,
    Wilayah Persekutuan,
    59000 Kuala Lumpur.

Feature Image Credit: Ruyi & Lyn

 

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