Thursday, December 10, 2015

Jinjuu (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Jinjuu, the Korean word for "pearl", is also the name of the newest restaurant at the totally revamped California Tower. Located on the upper ground level of Lan Kwai Fong's most iconic architecture, Jinjuu is a joint venture between the Lan Kwai Fong Group and celebrity chef Judy Joo who's an American chef and TV personality. Chef Joo was one of the Iron Chefs on the cooking show "Iron Chef UK" as well as most recently, the driving force behind Jinjuu London's contemporary Korean cuisine. Can we expect more or less the same thing at this Hong Kong branch? I am eager to find out.....

They have this very interesting Asian-inspired design at the cocktail bar and open kitchen area. Very eye-catching!

Adding to the vibrancy of the decor is a beautiful Chinese inspired dragon-themed graffiti in the dining area.

I decided to explore their lunch set which started at $198 for two courses. An additional dessert would cost just another $40. Not a bad way to start things off around here.

For starter, I elected to go with the Yuja cured salmon with chive creme fraiche and crisp radish salad. Yuja refers to the Korean yuzu which was very refreshing to go with the cured salmon. This tasted a lot like a salmon gravlax but served in tiny little cubes. One would never go wrong with a refreshing starter!

Out of all the main courses, bibimbap was the easy choice for me. This was served in a traditional stone bowl, with white rice, seasonal vegetables, fried egg and bulgogi (marinated beef). I've had a lot of bibimbaps in 2015, both in Hong Kong as well as Seoul and I have to say, there're tons of them out there that tasted equally as good or better. I'm not impressed! 

I knew I had to fit their signature Sae-woo pops ($90) into my lunch agenda somehow. These cute little round prawn cakes were neatly served on sticks with a creamy gochujang mayo on the side. I thought they were pretty tasty but the crispy crust was a little too thick in my opinion.

Of course, we couldn't leave without trying Jinjuu's signature Korean Fried Chicken ("KFC")($115) but sadly this turned out to be the most disappointing dish of the meal. I thought the main culprit of these deep fried chicken thighs and wings was the overly flaky and buttery batter. So it wasn't tasting all that great when the batter kept falling off.

They've got a secret recipe for their fried chicken sauce - Gochujang red and Jinjuu black soy sauce. Personally, I found the Jinjuu black soy to be a bit more tasty (Tasted a little like Hoisin sauce but with a little kick of spiciness). 

Not even dessert could save the day for us. This makgeolli and white chocolate panna cotta came with the lunch set and looked really good on paper with the right mix in there including mango compote, passion fruit and yuja sorbet, sesame and raspberry kkae kang jung (sesame tuile). But too bad that the texture of the panna cotta was way too soft and watery for my liking.

I haven't had a lot of luck with most of these newbies in recent weeks with the exception of Fish School and the trend has continued with Jinjuu. I thought the setting and service was decent; just that the food wasn't all that attractive.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$$
Address: UG/F California Tower, 32 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 3755-4868

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