Jinjuu's Brunch Is A Cornucopia Of Korean Delights
“It’s OK if you like that sort of thing”. A less-than-enthusiastic summation of Jinjuu, penned by The Guardian’s food critic Jay Rayner.
And he’s not alone. Time Out’s Celia Plender concludes that “Jinjuu has room for improvement”.
Cutting comments. But that was 2015.
Three years down the line and executive chef Judy Joo has ditched the “irritatingly written menus” and is proving that “improvement” has been made.
At £27, the three-course brunch menu is a budget-friendly spread. For an extra £11 you can upgrade to bottomless, with a cocktail to start. Spiced Kimchi Mary? Bottomless it is.
The Korean twist on the tomato-based cocktail is true to its name. A salty drink with a kick of heat from the chilli, it’s surprisingly tasty, if not a little difficult to drink. The heat from the chilli is intense. By contrast the soju-based mojito is refreshing and sweet.
To accompany our cocktails, we are presented with the anju sharing board; a cornucopia of Korean small bites. Our particular favourites are the sae woo pops (prawn cakes served on sticks) and steamed truffle dumplings (available as a vegetarian option). We feel obliged to pay our compliments to Judy Joo, who floats around the tables engaging energetically with the customers.
For the mains, we veer slightly off-course ordering not two, but three courses. Judy Joo insists we try the green tea pancakes. The American- style stack is a vibrant emerald green, served with a yuzu-infused chantilly cream, mixed berries and maple syrup. It’s a decadent main that might be better categorised as dessert, but nonetheless appetising.
We also try the steamed seabass with yuzu-pickled cucumber and the Korean chopped salad with raw tofu. Both are light and tasty, a perfect follow-up to a sizeable starter.
We round off brunch with the shaved ice or bingsu, as its commonly known in Korea. The pudding is offered in a range of flavours: green tea, yoghurt and mango. We settle for yoghurt, though the mango is a close second.
The Korean pudding is more elegant than its American counterpart, the ice cream sundae. Ribbons of ice are delicately folded atop one another like pretty pillows, using a special blade that is manually controlled by the chef. A vast platter of toppings is served alongside the shaved ice, including grilled rum pineapple, sesame tuiles and toasted coconuts. We are left to our own creative devices, designing a colourful, albeit chaotic, ‘sundae’. It’s am amusing finish to a wonderful meal.
Faced with an onslaught of criticism, Judy Joo may have had to swallow her pride in the past, but she can certainly hold her head up high today.
Jinjuu, 15 Kingly Street, Carnaby, W1B 5PS.
Last Updated 18 July 2018