Jinjuu | Say yes to Korean food for brunch
Since 2015, Jinjuu’s made a name for itself with modern Korean bites and a buzzy atmosphere in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. It’s ground floor location in California Tower is perfectly located for an afterwork drink and snack. For my first visit, I’d gone with a friend after work for a catch-up dinner. We’d really enjoyed the tacos and fried chicken, but the vibe was really lively (aka loud) and not that appropriate for a intimate catch-up. That’s not to say I didn’t like the vibe; actually, I loved the energy and added it to my list of good late night spots. Could we expect anything less from a founder who was previously Executive Chef at the Playboy Club in London?
Judy Joo and her team have been busy renovating Jinjuu and revamping the menus. Recently, we had the opportunity to try out their new brunch menu ($388 per person).
Previously, Jinjuu’s brunch had a buffet bar of starters. Now, the starters are made-to-order. There are seven dishes, and each one comes out piping hot. To gauge our stomach space, we wanted to try each dish before ordering seconds but couldn’t help ourselves once the chicken skewers and the spiced sweet corn cobs came out.
The chicken skewers were fragrant with a soy glaze and garlic aioli, and the meat was very juicy.
While corn cobs can be a bit of a pain to eat in public, these had me digging in no holds barred. The corn itself is nicely grilled with a spicy crust on top, but it was sat on a bed of butter honey and chili mayo. It was wonderfully spicy, as well as the perfect mix of sweet and salty.
None of the dishes were bad, though we wished there had been more cheese in the kimchi arancini balls. We also found the whole grain mustard vinaigrette for the beetroot cured salmon to be overwhelmingly sour.
There are five mains to choose from, and pleasingly only one of them - the roasted salted fish of the day - requires a top up. We went for the kalbi hotteok and the Korean fried baby chicken.
First I was sold by the description of the kalbi hotteok. Instead of the traditional bread-y dough, Jinjuu’s version was in a glutinous rice donut (!). I’m easily sold on fried dough. The dish was very likeable, and slightly similar to hom sui gok. However, the crust was slightly harder, in a good way, allowing for both crunchy and chewy bites. The bulgogi marinated meat tasted very traditional and the texture was very tender. I only wish there’d been more of the filling.
As for the Korean fried baby chicken, it was as delicious as I remembered it. Jinjuu is known for a fried chicken recipe that includes vodka which, don’t ask me how, results in a moist chicken and extra crispy batter. We liked that the chicken is served naked, with two small bottles of marinade so diners can add as much or as little as they like. In the previous version of Jinjuu’s brunch, they’d had a fried chicken counter at the buffet station. Given the chicken is delicious, we wish the serving came as more than two pieces - or that guests had the opportunity to request more pieces - in the revamped brunch.
To end our meal, we were presented with an ice cream platter. Usually ice cream doesn’t excite me, but I was pleasantly surprised by this homemade selection. We had scoops of vanilla, chocolate and cookies and cream; all were extremely creamy. The plum sorbet was also delicious, not too sour and had a slight fizz to it. The sponge toffee and crushed nuts also added an adult feeling to the sophisticated sundae.
But if you feel like being a kid, Jinjuu also has a large candy display for guests to help themselves. We were too full this time, but next time we’ll leave some room to attack the selection of gummy candies.
We enjoyed our brunch at Jinjuu. Service is attentive, and it’s a nice quiet (in contrast to the evening vibe) spot to enjoy a long meal. Most of the dishes have a slightly spicy kick, and the quality was good. If we could make two suggestions it would be to increase the size of the main courses and bring tacos onto the menus. The latter were not on the brunch menu and are no longer on the a la carte menu either but fret not. Fans of Jinjuu’s tacos will be happy to know Tuesday nights from 8 p.m. are now Taco Tuesday’s where six tacos go for $250.
UG, California Tower, 32 D'Aguilar Street, Central, 3755 4868