Restaurant Review: Jinjuu
Surrounded by the retail bustle of Oxford Street and Carnaby Street, Jinjuu (meaning “Pearl”), has a New York restaurant feel to it, where Korean cooking is fused with transatlantic cool. The restaurant has been designed by renowned interior design consultancy Tibbatts Abel, who have decked out the likes of Buddha Bar and China White.
There’s a Soho-stylish ambience as you walk in and your eyes have to adjust to the mirrored walls that reflect the bar back on itself. That’s when you can see the first of Jinjuu’s concepts, based on the Korean idea of anju – food that’s designed to be eaten with drink. Here, small dishes like chicken wings and dumplings are served up with cocktails and beer.
We were shown downstairs to our table in the dining room, where the buzz coming from the kitchen, visible at the back, hits you immediately as it radiates over the other already seated diners.
Starting with some refreshing cocktails chosen from a tantalising list, we were guided through the menu so that we could visualise Korea and how the dishes were prepared and served there. With choices of small dishes and larger sharing plates, there was a wide array of options for my date and I to discuss before we settled on some vegetable dumplings, or mandoo, and golden battered chicken pieces to start. The chicken was so succulent on its own, let alone when combined with Jinjuu’s secret gochujang sauce, that it left your mouth watering for more. Accompanied by some beautiful red wine, it was a perfect combination.
For our sharing mains we were presented with a divine-looking bass dish which was wrapped in a banana leaf that you opened to release the aromatic spices. The flavours on the palette were almost indescribable, but it was the slow-braised tender cubes of short ribs that stole the show. Immaculately presented, the meat peeled away with chopsticks and literally melted on the tongue – fantastic! It was so good that we almost overlooked the traditional sides we had covering the rest of the table.
The food was faultless but my date and I were too satisfied at this point to even attempt one of the desserts, which was almost a shame as they were described so invitingly in the menu.
Jinjuu is an excellent choice for a first date. Everything about the restaurant has a cool Asian vibe to it that has you relaxed and ready to enjoy yourself.