The latest on the scene is Jinjuu, the creation of celebrity Korean chef Judy Joo, the ex-head of the Playboy Club, who started her career in London with Gordon Ramsey and has appeared on a number of TV shows such as the Iron Chef and her own Korean food show.
The idea behind Jinjuu, is a Korean street food and small plates in a cocktail bar setting, which is right up my street! The upstairs focuses more on the nibbley street food whilst downstairs is more of a restaurant setting and you can have larger sharing platters, such as the Korean Fried Chicken. I love going anywhere you essentially have to share food, I just think there is no better way to eat, you get to sample lots of different items and it becomes a talking point as everyone can swap opinions on the dishes, not that I ever really need help with talking points...
I hadn't seen one of my dearest ladies, Ana, in quite some time and we were long over due a big catch up. Both being a huge lovers of asian food, there was only one place which made sense to try and get a table and we were in luck.
I was a touch late and the place was heaving! Pushing my way through the noisy and crowed top bar, I was relieved to find us down stairs (in a much more sedate atmosphere) and Ana nestled in a corner and over-joyed to find it was right in front of the open kitchen.
Simply decorated with exposed brick work I loved the feel of the place, a great atmosphere but not so noisy that we would spend all evening yelling at each other. I would much suspect that the top bar would be like that. Having said that this was at about 8pm on a Friday evening so I would be interested to see what it was like during the week.
After some insane high speed chatter, the waitress interrupted us to pick out some cocktails and suggested we might look at the menu.
Ana had already forewarned me she wanted to try pretty much everything which is always a good sign!
I can't tell you how much I loved the crockery and utensils, in fact the decor of the place was spot on, it felt more New York than London and just added to the excitement of a new place!
After a little bit of a wait, our cocktails finally arrived, a classic cosmo for Ana and a minty cucumbery gin affair for myself.
These were closely followed by the highly anticipated Sae-Woo Pops (crispy prawn balls) with the most incredibly moorish gochujang mayonnaise.
I cant say these lasted long!
We nibbled, sipped and chatted away. I have to say I didn't really notice the fairly substantial gap between our starters due to our gossiping, until the waitress apologised to us for the delay. It had been rather a while, but she came barely gifts in the form of complimentary dumplings.
Well, Im hardly one to get cross over a free dumpling! They were the days special, fried dumplings filled with the softest slow cooked pork with a spicy dipping sauce.
These were closely followed by their steamed friends, which were pretty as a picture!
The vegetarian ones...
and their meaty pork and beef counterparts, both with a soy dipping sauce.
Both of us were starving by this point, so there was slight lull in conversation as we munched.
Next to arrive were our more main dishes, the steak tartare...
which was heaven, spiked with pieces of pear and pine nuts, topped off with a quails yolk to mix in for richness.
Ana wasn't too keen on this one, which was fantastic news for me and I hoovered the lot!
Finally we added a Bibimbap bowl. A large granite bowl filled with sticky rice, seasonable vegetables including meaty chunks of shitake mushrooms, strips of marinated sliced beef and topped off with a fried egg.
It came sizzling to our table where the waitress poured over the gochujang sauce and then preceded to mixed the whole lot together
Making sure the sauce and egg yolked covered everything.
Such a tasty bowl to pick at! The bowl is so hot that but the time you get to the bottom of the bowl the rice is lovely and crispy and a delight to peel off the bottom! Though I will confess it was my least favourite of our line up, it just lacked the depth of flavour our other dishes provided.
We sat and chatted long over our 2 hour allotted time slot yet we weren't disturbed. It was the best kind of catch up meal.
If you were in a rush I probably wouldn't suggest it as the service isn't the most speedy Ive ever known, but for us it was perfect. The only annoyance came at the end when we repeatedly had to ask to pay for our bill, but it hardly cast a dark cloud over the evening.
People were still arriving downstairs at about 10.30 and when we eventually made it up stairs closer to 11 it was no less busy than when I arrived with people still tucking into food.
They had several large tables which would be ideal for large groups and there is still so much on the menu I wanted to try so I am very much looking forward to a return visit!
Hit them up here Jinjuu to book a spot!