Read Nuzy Sayani’s review of JINJUU.
I recently enjoyed a return visit to Jinjuu, Judy Joo’s Korean restaurant that is sandwiched between Regent Street and Carnaby Street. When people think of Korea, kimchi, soju (Korea’s version of vodka) and Gangnam Style come to mind, but there is a lot more to discover.
Jinjuu’s street level bar and dining area has a great vibe and was teaming with people during my visit. Sample the Korean inspired cocktails and nibble tapas style on the Anju (small plates). As the music and chatter can be loud, I booked a booth in the basement dining room that is more conducive to conversation and affords you a view of the theatre style kitchen.
The menu is Korean fusion with a blend of classic and contemporary that works surprising well. This characteristic is exhibited in the décor and art work. You are met in the reception by a Gumiho, a 1000 year old fox with nine tails to protect those who enter. We sat beneath a Korean tiger and an English Lion set amongst a cityscape of Seoul and London. Great cultural diversity!
The attentive and well informed manager, Francesco Della Corte, guided us through the menu. In order to whet our appetite we ordered The Psy Sour, a soju based cocktail that was adorned with a ginseng candy and a Bourbon Baby (have it straight up).
We started with the Portobello Mushroom and the delicious Bulgogi Beef tacos generously stuffed with Asian slaw, a Korean Caesar salad with a kimchi Caesar dressing served with spicy grilled prawns, a tuna tartare and the famous Korean Fried Chicken – the Jin Chick. This is not a place for those of you who are shy about eating with your hands as you need to dig in! The chicken had a crisp batter but was succulent inside and was paired with mini bottles of “secret sauces” – one made from the ubiquitous Gochujang, a traditional spicy sauce made with red pepper and the other a blend of umami and soy. We were advised to mix the sauces up together. I would advise you to order the thighs instead of the wings.
Many of the dishes can be served “as is” or you can add beef, chicken, prawns or tofu allowing you to adapt the menu to your taste and there is enough choice for vegetarians.
Our voyage continued with a Bibimbap Bowl, which is really a complete meal served in a stone bowl. The rice is mixed with vegetables and a fried egg to which we added grilled chicken breast. This is all mixed together with a generous dollop of Gochujang sauce to give it a kick. Ultimate comfort food. We also enjoyed the Jap Chae, simple stir fried noodles made from sweet potato mixed with vegetables and sides of crunchy roasted broccoli and Asian slaw.
We then moved onto roasted sea bass that was wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked on the open grill. This was accompanied by a selection of kimchi, pickled radish, rice and a salad of spring onions that complemented the delicacy of the fish.
The four of us managed to leave a little room for dessert and in the spirit of friendship shared a dessert platter. I particularly liked the chocolate, hazelnut and Gochugaru (red pepper powder) brownie with salted miso ice-cream and the Yuja (a citrus fruit) crème brulee.
We rounded off the meal with some Korean tea. I would give the green tea with popcorn a miss but enjoyed the comforting Yujacha, a honey citron fruit tea that tastes like a lemony marmalade. Paddington Bear would definitely approve!
I would recommend Jinjuu for food that is interesting, accessible, flavourful and fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the overall experience of the food, atmosphere and service makes me want to return soon.
Jinjuu, 15 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PS
0208 181 8887; jinjuu.com
Nuzy Sayani is Catwalkschoolgates’ restaurant reviewer. Nuzy lives in Marylebone with her husband and seven year old son. She is a technology lawyer and loves the theatre, cinema, is an avid reader and likes nothing more than trying out restaurants. Nuzy will be sharing her dining experiences with us and would love to hear from you with your recommendations.