Feb 8 2015



Jinjuu is the new modern Korean restaurant in Soho. Jinjuu means “pearl” (the bill they gave us was served in a large fake pearl case) and according to their website it is the new restaurant with “celebrity chef, Judy Joo”. I personally had never heard of this “celebrity chef” and had to google her and she seems to be doing more TV work than cooking and mainly in the US.

We went to Jinjuu for lunch on a Sunday and you could either sit on the ground floor and eat from their menu that focuses on small dishes based on “anju”, which is food that you eat when you drink, or sit downstairs in the basement where you can eat large sharing platters and Korean barbecue. They actually sat us downstairs but told us we could order from the small dishes menu, which is what we wanted to do.

The restaurant did fill up and was almost full at 1pm. Downstairs where we sat there was an open kitchen on one side, where we could hear the main chef (not Judy Joo) shout out dishes to the other chefs they had to prepare. It felt a bit “rehearsed” though and almost like the main chef wanted to be Gordon Ramsey in Hell’s Kitchen. The décor of the dining room is pleasant and in dark wooden colours. The menu was divided into street food, K-Town mini slider buns, Tacos, their signature Jinjuu Korean fried chicken, “traditional offerings” and bibimbap. We ordered a few dishes from each of the sections and then shared them.

The first dish that arrived were the tacos (we got 2 tacos for £9), and we chose to have the Bulgogi Beef tacos which included Asian slaw and house made kimchi. This was our favourite dish of the whole meal, although we still did not like it completely. The beef was delicious, nicely marinated, my boyfriend loved the avocado that topped the taco, just because he likes avocado, and I did like in theory the combination of kimchi and Asian slaw in a Mexican taco. In practice, the actual tortilla that surrounded the taco was not warm or anything exciting, it felt like a small taco taken out of a shop bought packed and filled with ingredients that individually were delicious, but when you ate it all together there was something not quite right.

Next arrived their signature Jinjuu chicken for £8 and as part of this dish you could either chose to have 5 chicken wings or 2 thighs and we chose the thighs. It was served with pickled white radish on the side and with their signature sauces – “Gochujang Red”, a spicy sauce, and “Jinjuu Black Soy” sauce and the waitress told us we could eat the sauces on its own with the chicken or mix them together and then dip the chicken into them. I did like the sauces and the pickled radish, but the chicken was so deep fried you could see oil as you bit into it. The chicken thigh in the middle was delicious, really moist and nice, but the coating could give you a heart attack. It was delicious, but in the whole “extremely unhealthy delicious” sort of way, and I could not eat too much of it. My boyfriend also did not like it that much, as he is also health conscious. Having said that the group of Korean (I think) ladies sitting behind us seemed to love this, and ordered a huge plate of chicken thighs and were taking pictures of them and happily eating them.

The third dish that arrived was one of their “traditional offerings” and we had ordered the traditional mandoo for £6.50 or 3 steamed beef and pork dumplings seasoned with Korean spices and a soy dipping sauce. It was a dish a bit similar to dim sum, but the batter outside was not as soft and sticky as for dim sum, and seemed a bit thicker and to me tasted like shop bought and then cooked as opposed to being made on the premises, but I could be completely wrong. The inside – the seasoned beef and pork – was quite nice, but overall due to the outside/ batter, it was not a winner dish for me.

We were at a Korean restaurant so we had to have a bibimbap. It cost £8 and the basic bibimbap included white rice, seasonal vegetables topped with fried egg and Gochujang sauce. In addition you could pay extra and add various things and we paid £3 to have kimchi added to it and also paid £3 to have grilled half chicken breast added to it. The bibimbap arrived like a traditional bibimbap does in a hot stone pot with all the ingredients separate and then the waitress mixed everything together. The individual ingredients were ok, apart from the chicken that felt a bit strange, it was like grilled, dry chicken that had been added to the bibimbap, it just did not fit the dish. Also I thought the proportions of the dish were wrong, there were too many ingredients and too little rice.

We also ordered a Jinjuu salad for£8to have as a side and to balance out all the other dishes. Strangely it was one of the last dishes to arrive even though it was in the street food section. It had mixed leaves, kale, carrot , pickled radish, spring onions, black beans, mixed seeds, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes and it was served with Jinjuu carrot dressing. You could also pay extra and have chicken breast, prawns or tofu added to it, which we did not do and just had the salad. In theory all the ingredients should have made a good salad, but it was not, the carrot dressing was a bit strange, same can be said about the salad, the vegetables and the dressing did not work, and I very rarely can say this about the salad, as usually I love any sort of salad.

Overall both of us loved the concept of Jinjuu – it is fun to have Korean street food and small bites – but in practice there was something wrong with almost every single one of the dishes. On paper they looked amazing, but when you ate them, they were just ok. This restaurant does have potential though.

Date: 08/ 02/ 15
Price for 2 people, no alcohol, including service charge: £57.94
Location: Soho

Jinjuu on Urbanspoon

Maija rated: 



15 Kingly Street W1B 5PS
United Kingdom
Jinjuu Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3