I’m really into Korean Culture and it’s had a recent surge in popularity in recent years, especially in the areas of music, food and beauty/fashion. Of course we have to mention the popularity of Korean beauty which has seen BB creams and sheet masks enter Western markets and even more recently the amazing Lisa Eldridge posted videos on Korean Beauty. My first foray into most Asian cultures has always been through food and I first tried Korean BBQ in Hong Kong about 10 years ago and from then on, Korean food has always remained a firm favourite.
When I heard that JinJuu, a new Korean restaurant was opening, I was pretty excited about making my first visit. I don’t really know much about Judy Joo, the London based, Korean-American chef/owner. All I know is that she’s worked her way up in some pretty amazing restaurants and had some very successful stints on TV and I was intrigued as to what her first restaurant would be like.
When I looked at the menu, I pretty much wanted to order everything but there is only so much that 3 people can eat at lunchtime. We ordered a good selection: Sae-woo Pops, Korean Chicken Wings, Bibimbap, Mandu (dumplings) and of course Korea’s national dish, Kimchi (preserved cabbage).
The Sae-woo pops (prawn) were AMAZING, crispy on the outside and the prawn lovely and juicy on the inside plus the presentation was quite fun. I am pretty obsessed with the dipping sauce, Gochujang mayonnaise which is a spicy mayo flavoured with Korea’s much loved, red pepper paste. I could definitely do with a little jar of that at home!
The ‘Jin Chick’ aka Korean Chicken wings were delicious too and really good dipped into the little sauces. These ‘secret sauces’ were served in cute little bottles – Gochujang Red and JinJuu black soy sauce. This also came with some pickled radish (which is one of my favourite things) and some shredded kimchi – which was slightly sweeter than the normal kimchi we ordered. I stared enviously at a neighbouring table as they had opted to order a whole fried chicken. That guys, is totally on my must-eat list for my next visit. It looked amazing and so, so crispy.
I love the shape of Korean dumplings. Mandu dumplings are different to Chinese dumplings as they have the ends pulled together, so it is shaped a little like a big tortellini. These little beef and pork dumplings were served with a soy dipping sauce which was loaded with plenty of garlic and sesame seeds. I definitely could have eaten a few more of these.
Bibimbap is one of my favourite things to order because it’s such a fun dish and we chose a classic Bulgogi Beef Bibimbap. I really like food that gets you involved and Bibimbap is one of those. This is a mixed rice dish where the rice sits at the bottom with all the different vegetables/meats/egg on top and served in a hot stone bowl. As soon as it arrives at the table and still hot, take a big dollop of Gochujang sauce and mix it well and dig in! My favourite part of bibimbap is the rice right at the bottom, which is toasted from the heat of the bowl. In the past I’ve had Bibimbap where the bowl wasn’t hot enough to toast the rice which is a bit of a rookie error. JinJuu do it properly and we happily scraped the toasted rice from the bottom of the bowl.
JinJuu is located on Kingly Street which is parallel to Carnaby Street and well worth a visit. If you’ve never tried Korean food, this would be a great place to start too. The staff are friendly and it’s clear that the chefs in the kitchen enjoy what they do (what a great quote to live by!) It has a bar on the ground floor where you can order some light bites which are based on ‘Anju’ – small dishes that are meant to accompany your drinks but the actual restaurant is downstairs. FYI they also have Korean BBQ here. When I visited it had only been open for 2 weeks but I can imagine that this place will get pretty busy on evenings so I’d definitely recommend booking in advance. If you guys ever visit, let me know what you think!