Since 2015, Jinjuu’s made a name for itself with its modern Korean bites and buzzy atmosphere in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. It’s ground-floor space in California Tower is perfectly located for an after-work drink and snack. On my first visit, I’d gone with a friend after work for a catch-up dinner. We’d enjoyed the tacos and fried chicken, but the vibe was really lively (aka loud) and not that appropriate for a intimate dinner for two. That’s not to say I didn’t like the vibe; actually, I loved the energy and added jinjuu to my list of good late-night spots. Could we expect anything less from a founder who was previously the executive chef at the Playboy Club in London?
Judy Joo and her team have been busy renovating Jinjuu and revamping the menus. Recently, we had the opportunity to try out the restaurant’s new brunch menu ($388 per person).
Previously, Jinjuu’s brunch had a buffet bar of starters. Now, the starters are made to order. There are seven dishes, and each one comes out piping hot. To gauge our stomach space, we wanted to try each dish before ordering seconds, but we couldn’t help ourselves once the chicken skewers and spiced sweetcorn cobs came out.
The chicken skewers, with a soy glaze and aioli, were fragrant and the meat was very juicy.
While corn cobs can be a bit of a pain to eat in public, these had me digging in, no holds barred. The corn itself was nicely grilled with a spicy crust on top, and it was sat on a bed of honey butter and chilli mayo. It was wonderfully spicy and the perfect mix of sweet and salty.
None of the starters were bad, though we wished there had been more cheese in the kimchi arancini. We also found the wholegrain mustard vinaigrette in the beetroot-cured salmon to be overwhelmingly sour.
There are five mains to choose from, and pleasingly only one of them – the roasted salted fish of the day – requires a top-up. We went for the kalbi hotteok and the Korean fried baby chicken.
I was sold by the description of the kalbi hotteok. Instead of the traditional bread-y dough, Jinjuu’s version arrived in a glutinous rice doughnut – I love me some fried dough. The dish was very likeable and akin to hom sui gok (fried pork dumplings). However, the crust was slightly harder, in a good way, allowing for both crunchy and chewy bites. The bulgogi-marinated meat tasted very traditional and the texture was quite tender. I only wish there’d been more of the filling.
As for the Korean fried baby chicken, it was as delicious as I remembered it. Jinjuu is known for a fried chicken recipe that includes vodka, which – don’t ask me how – results in moist meat and extra-crispy batter. We liked that the chicken is served naked, with two small bottles of marinade so that diners can add as much or as little as they like. In previous versions of Jinjuu’s brunch, they’d offered a fried chicken counter at the buffet station. Given that the chicken is so moreish, we wish the serving included more than two pieces – or that guests had the opportunity to request more pieces – in the revamped brunch.
To end our meal, we were presented with an ice cream platter. Usually ice cream doesn’t excite me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the homemade selection here. We had scoops of vanilla, chocolate and cookies and cream; all were extremely creamy. The plum sorbet was also delicious (not too sour) and had a slight fizz to it. The sponge toffee and crushed nuts added an adult feeling to the sophisticated sundae.
If you’re a kid at heart, Jinjuu also has a large sweets display for guests to help themselves. We were too full this time, but next time we’ll leave some room to attack the selection of gummy candies.
We enjoyed our brunch at Jinjuu. The service is attentive and it’s a nice, quiet (in contrast to the evening vibe) spot to enjoy a leisurely meal. Most of the dishes have a slight spicy kick and the quality is high. If we could make two suggestions it would be to increase the size of the main courses and to bring back tacos. The latter were not on the brunch menu and are no longer on the à la carte menu either, but fret not. Fans of Jinjuu’s tacos will be happy to know that Tuesday nights from 8pm are now Taco Tuesdays, when six tacos go for $250.
UG/F, California Tower, 30–32 D’Aguilar Street, LKF, Central, 3755 4868