As a good bye meal with my friend, we decided to go to an up and coming (I’ve been told it has only been open for a month) and perhaps ‘fancy’ (for a lack of a better word) restaurant which her sister recommended. It gets really busy in there so we had to make a reservation, perhaps it’s the buzz from the celebrity chef – Judy Joo.
Classic Korean metal chopsticks!
I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t too sure about it as I made my way there and even when I sat down because with hyped up restaurants, you either expect the people there to be a bit stuck up or you think the food is over rated.
Anyway, I can’t keep up with the suspense anymore so suffice to say that I was surprised and thoroughly impressed. There were a few things that I think could be a little bit better but we will come to that in due course. So one example is the menu. They have three different kinds of menu and we had the dining, non-drinking one (as opposed to the anju – small plates to go with a drink). I’ve had some experience with Korean food, and even I found the layout of the menu a little confusing.
Our order (Website Description):
Mandoo (meat dumplings): £6.50
Three juicy steamed beef and pork dumplings. Seasoned delicately with Korean spices. Soy dipping sauce.
The Jin Chick: £8.00
Korean Fried Chicken, choice of thighs or wings, pickled white radish on the side.
Served with secret sauces – Kick up the heat with Gochujang Red. Get a hit of umami with Jinjuu Black Soy.
Bibimbap Bowls: £8.00
Filled with white rice and seasonal vegetables. Topped with a fried egg. Gochujang sauce. Served in a stone bowl. Extras: Bulgogi marinated thinly sliced beef £3.00 & Thinly sliced marinated pork belly £3.00.
Walnut & Miso Creme Brulee: £6.00
Pine nut shortbread, maple candied walnut.
Snickers Hotteok: £7.00
Flat Korean doughnut stuffed with salted caramel and roasted peanuts, peanut parfait, chocolate ganache, praline and Nutella powder.
The Jin Chick
All I have to say is that ‘OMG the chicken was amazing’! It was fried to give a soft textured crisp, not crunchy but just right and the meat was so soft and succulent. It was really well made and I was pleasantly surprised. To be honest, you could just eat the chicken without the sauces they provide as it had enough flavour but the sauce was a bonus. The soy sauce was the thick, sweet kind and the Gochujang had a kick to it with a savoury bean flavour. For the price we got alot of chicken, two massive pieces came up and it was pretty much like a main meal.
The Mandoo was also really nice. The pastry was soft but sturdy, as you can see from the pictures, they hold their shape and the meat inside although shaped into a ball would break away easily and it was soft. This is a sign of a good dumpling. What you don’t want is the meat to be full of bits and doesn’t break away when you bite into it but instead is all clammed up. Anyway, again I felt that there was enough flavour in the dumpling but the soy sauce added a much more intense flavour with the spring onions, garlic and chilli.
The Bibimbap Bowls was nice but not the best I’ve had I’m afraid and it isn’t just because the other two dishes were so good it was over shadowed. Previous bibimbaps I’ve had usually have a raw egg in the middle and this gives the rice a stickier consistency and the better ones I’ve had have more of a sesame oil flavour which I enjoy. This one was nice, it was pleasant ,the sauce wasn’t too hot, it had all the right vegetables and the meat was really good (soft and well flavoured) but I was expecting more given the high standards from the other two dishes.
The desserts were really large portions and we regretted it as soon as it came, both feeling quite full from the food before. I personally was the fan of the Walnut & Miso Creme Brulee. It had a toffee like taste to it that reminded me of the asian toffee sweets that I used to have when I was a child. The miso balanced well and gave the dessert a savoury taste that works but my friend wasn’t too keen on this and said she couldn’t taste the walnut or miso. I didn’t rate the short bread much though as for me I think short breads should be denser and buttery.
Walnut & Miso Creme Brulee
The Snickers Hotteok was interesting and that is my kind way of saying I will not order it again and I wouldn’t recommend it. The presentation for a start has a lot of room for improvement and it didn’t look appetising. The doughnut was really tough and the salted caramel did not come through at all. My friend enjoyed the peanut parfait but I wasn’t too keen. The chocolate ganache actually tasted nice and I liked the praline and Nutella powder. I would happily just have those by itself if it was presented in a more appetising way.
All in all, I liked the restaurant and the decor was quirky and the staff was attentive and filled our water up regularly. Although I did find our waitress a bit smug at times but she did ask us how our meal was, whether she was genuinely interested in the feedback was another story. I also felt a bit awkward at the end when it took her quite a while to give us our change back. She was probably expecting us to leave but then after a while realised she should bring change and gave us 6 x 50ps plus another pile of silvers. I had a similar experience in another italian restaurant, they just gave us 20p and 10p and I made a point of taking everything. I find it really rude and cheeky that they think they can get away with it on top of a 12.5 % service charge rate.
Anyway, diverging slightly, the toilets were nice and full of K-pop posters. Make sure you go to the pearl stickered door if you are a lady though (yes, it’s one of those restaurants). They also give you the all important tissue towels to dry your hands and hand lotion which is always nice touch. I like the concept of the restaurant as well and I like that they express and try to teach people about Korean culture in their menu. As we left, all the staff was saying bye – they were quite a friendly bunch after all!
Despite the slight ‘change’ incident, I definitely still recommend this restaurant as the food is great and it is now one of my favourites in London. : )
Things that stood out: Definitely The Jin Chick and the Walnut & Miso Creme Brulee was a dark horse for me.