JINJUU @ A Celebration of The Modern Korean Anju Culture

JINJUU is a celebration of the modern Korean Anju culture of ‘eating while drinking’. It is also a project of passion conceived by the French trained Korean-American Londoner celebrity chef Judy Joo – quite a mouthful introduction that opens recently in the latest California Tower incarnation in the heart of Lang Kwai Fong. By mylifestylenews.

JINJUU means Pearls in Korean and this latest hangout offers a modern take on Korean tastes, with a menu encompassing both classic and street food fare that is to be enjoyed with alcohol – an absolute Korean way where you can certainly celebrate that.

As a celebration of Joo’s Korean heritage, this stylish restaurant has an inviting ambience and hip vibe that was designed by Substance.  As you enter, you will be carried away and impressed by the warehouse interior subtly juxtapositions elements interior design that creates a gorgeous and impressive effect, exuding a modern mix of industrial with Korean cultural elements that you will find quite enchanting to look at.

Regrettably, what followed from the moment the menus arrived was less than impressive, not to mention what come next when the food were presented. On paper, the menu offers a multitude of dishes that sound like they are bursting with flavours and will be as enjoyable as the fun surroundings, but this relatively new restaurant is not the full sum of its parts and after sampling many signature dishes and placing requests with the front-of-house staff, we were left wondering why our experience was so disappointing.

At the very outset, we got a heads up pretty quick that the service was going to be a huge issue. As the hardware is almost impeccable but there seems to be no sense of service sequence nor the tables was being looking after. Our observation findings the service staff only come to the table when delivering the food orders and even then, they did not clear anything away that have finished.

 When we prompt them, they only took one thing not until we asked them to take all that we are done with. That seems happening to other tables with such dishearten service or rather unwilling to perform their job in such lazy service. Not to mention that they have no smile nor any spirit and passion towards their job but a complete lack of training in the basics. The staff totally spoil it.

The food is a very mixed bag and we did try a lot of dishes to ensure we had a relatively full picture mainly from the house signature. We started off with the all natural handmade JINJUU Prawn Crackers that are meant to be a bit spicy (as told while it was presented) but we couldn’t detect the spice not to mention that it came quite soggy.

This was followed by the signature Korean Fried Chicken and you get to choose what parts you would like, wings, drumstick or breast for an thoughtful option. You can even have it all with a mixed selection in which we did. It comes with pickled white radish on the side and paired with their homemade Gochujang Red and Jinjuu Black Soy sauce. The chicken was nicely fried and tender inside but quite bland in flavor and greasy. The sauces are needed to add a certain kick and piquancy and yet it is rather too salty if you splash out more than a few required dashes.

Not too satisfying starts, we moved on to Yook-Hwe – Korean steak tartar uses chopped Australian grass-fed beef fillet mixed with Asian aromatics, pear, pine nuts, and topped with raw quail egg yolk and served with prawn crackers (Yes, the same prawn crackers we just had) which we left untouched. Sounds utterly enticing, but fell very flat in taste once again as the overall effect was too subtle in flavor and no doubt this dish shall be enjoyed with less seasoning but it can be done with more flavorsome way. The portion size was quite ideal, with the chunky meat and grainy texture in quality, we left unconvinced with this creation.

After three disappointed serving in a roll, we anticipated our next dish would be with some improvements. Next up was Bulgogi Wagyu Beef Sliders – mini burgers of prime Wagyu infused with Korean spices, cooked pink and topped with cucumber kimchi, cheddar and crispy smoked bacon. Finally, something that came with a satisfying note with the nicely grilled juicy Wagyu beef burger despite Bulgogi marinate was not as distinctive as it should be.

We loved the sound of the Iberico Pork Belly Tacos – thinly sliced Iberico pork belly marinated in Korean spices, apple Kimchi and Korean slaw. Much to our surprise, the taco shell turned out to be soft pita bread for reasons unknown instead of the Tex Mex crispy Taco. The spice marinade was too overpowering and with monotone flavours without much complexity palate. A rather disappointing outcome.

The Jinjuu Carnitas Fries – Korean-Mexican disco fries, suppose to make your tongue to go on for a disco dancing with its tangy spicy and sourish taste. Sounded incredibly enticing as this is Chipotle braised short ribs, French fries slathered with cheddar, topped with fresh Kimchi.

It was more Mexican than Korean as the Kimchi wasn’t really inimitable, but a fair dish that ticks all the boxes for such crossed fusion gnaw that is perfect for Lang Kwai Fong crowd with a bit of a spice kick and the fries were perfect accompanied by beers of their house signature cocktail.

At this point, by finding something that could satisfy our craving seems getting more challenging and the menu description could be quite deceiving. We decided on the Grade 9 Korean Hanwoo Sirloin – the highest quality of Korean beef with grilled vegetables, Bulgogi style soy glaze, garnished with crispy shoestring potatoes and garlic chips – had to be a winner. Well it wasn’t. A pleasant dish in presentation but the beef was not outstanding in texture and slightly over char grilled out the outside that began to taste the bitterness burnt taste. The grilled vegetables was greasy and we struggle to finish it. There were two large dipping sauce came together with this dish that were not mentioned on the menu, nor explained by the wait staff. The service level had gone south while this dish was brought to the table where the wait staff staring at us and giving the eye signals that we shall lift up the previous finished order in order for her to place down the serving without showing much appreciation and walked away after we made some room for her to put down our dish. Obviously, she couldn’t care more by showing no interest still to clear the finished dishes.

Another main we ordered was quite satisfying. The Glazed USDA Prime Short Ribs -  slow braised tender cubes of beef served with crispy shoestring fries, garlic chips, grilled vegetables and basted with bespoke soy glaze. The ribs were extremely flavoursome and a pleasing dish overall.

Our last dish of the evening was the Bibimbap Bulgogi which they forgot to place the order until we reminded them so. We thought this has to be one of our lists of absolute favourites Korean dishes, but this traditional hot stone bowl rice dish with marinated thinly sliced Australian beef in bulgogi sauce was below average in our estimation. The accompany Gochujang sauce on the site was too sweet that killed the other flavours, there is no distinguishing characteristics were allowed to shine through. Another disappointed classic Korean dish not being handled just right.

We left the restaurant with quite a let down feelings. There is no heart and soul from either the kitchen or the wait staff. With the Michelin Guide recognized from their London restaurant, all the efforts put in is now becoming an up setting factor in JINJUU Hong Kong. The perfunctory service is truly the disaster. The music is as loud as one of the nightclubs just around the corner, which does not make for a pleasant evening of chit chat even before 10pm which is a common practice is most restaurants slash bars. With a menu and ambience that looks so promising as well as the ingredients used here that includes the free range & hormone free Australian Chicken and USDA corn fed prime beef and cook without MSG and so forth. A satisfying meal is to bring you enjoyment and leave you with convivial experience as what they aim to deliver but clearly it didn't work on us this time.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4.5/5
Design & Decor: 4.5/5
Food & Beverage: 2/5
Service: 1/5
Value For Money: 2.5/5
Experience: 2/5

Glazed USDA Prime Short Ribs


UG/F, California Tower,
32 D'Aguilar Street
Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 37554868

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.

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