Opening Hours Sun - Thurs 12:00 pm - 1:00am Fri - Sat 12:00pm - 3:00am
Lunch HoursMon to Fri, 12:00 noon - 2:30 pm
Dinner HoursMon to Sun, 6:00 pm - 11:00 am
Dress CodeSmart Casual
Accept Credit CardYes
Date of review: December 31, 2015 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
The collaboration between TV chef personality Judy Joo and Lan Kwai Fong group brings a youthful vibe to California Tower, also home to Ce La Vi and Townhouse. Unlike the aforementioned restaurants, Jinjuu offers no skyline views. The entrance is on street level at the side of the building, greeting guests with an open bar and kitchen stretching halfway across the dining area, complete with numerous graffiti-style dragons painted throughout the space, all created by urban artist Victoriano. The restaurant, with its extensive use of wooden structures on roughly finished painted walls bring a sense of industrial chic to the main dining area.
Jinjuu prides itself for bringing the “Anju” concept to Hong Kong. Traditionally, these refer to bar snacks served while consuming copious amount of alcohol, and Judy Joo’s take on small plates extend to Westernised Korean fare ranging from tacos to sliders, plus mandoo dumplings, similar to Chinese potstickers. Jinjuu’s signature fried chicken off to a good start. Crunchy and golden brown, the meat is juicy in every piece from wings to thigh, accompanied by cool pickles of cubed radish and petite squeeze bottles of red gochujang and the black soy. Jinjuu carnitas fries is served in a tiny bowl. Fries are golden brown but sadly turned soggy trapped under a blanket of toppings consisting of tomato concasse, onions, and cold chunks of juicy beef.
Steaming spicy doenjang mussels arrive in a bibimbap-style stone bowl, which is also surprisingly stone-cold. The broth is spicy but some of our mussels tasted off. The good ones, however, were juicy and tender. The Iberico bossam pork belly arrives on a long plate. The pork belly, slow cooked and then braised, was juicy enough, but its meltingly soft texture only took on the flavour of an over-seasoned spread of fermented bean and chilli sauce. The relish on the side was fridge cold but the spring onion salad was tangy and refreshing. Portioning was also a problem, as the dish was too small to even serve two.
Desserts at Jinjuu continue to marry East and West. Chocolate hazelnut and gochugaru brownie spices up a fudgy brownie with Korean chilli powder, yielding a spicy finish to be mellowed out by a salted miso ice cream that brings out more flavour of vanilla than the fermented bean paste. Fried apple mandoo pie is the highlight of the meal, served in a package resembling a fast-food apple pie, these deep-fried dumplings are coated with cinnamon sugar, while the crisp crescents are filled with a mix of sweet and tart braeburn and bramley apples.
The drinks list at Jinjuu is an interesting read, from Korean-inspired cocktails to limited choices of wines by the glass for reds and whites. The collection of soju is impressive and a soju flight may be a good idea to sample the varieties on offer. Choose your cocktails wisely, and we believe the simpler the better. Rice Negroni is a take on the classic, zesty at first but lacking complexity. The K-Pop Pornstar is more than its kitschy name, with a halved passion fruit afloat the soju-based cocktail. It’s sweet with refreshing citrus notes that linger on, helped by the chaser of sparkling kumquat soju served on the side.
While it is easy to catch the staff’s attention, they have yet to develop sound knowledge of the dishes and drinks, as well as making recommendations. Aside from misplaced orders and spilled cocktails (at the next table), service is otherwise friendly.
A dinner for two complete with one cocktail each comes up to HK$1,300. For its prime location it is fair but as far as the execution and quality of the dishes are concerned, we have yet to see the fun and creative takes on menu offerings as promised.