Whenever I dream of opening my own restaurant, it looks exactly like Jinjuu. I feel as though the concept was plucked out of my brain and it all materialised into this lovely looking restaurant on Kingly Street in Soho. You have all the common and likeable elements of a trendy eatery in the West End coupled with a distinctive concept which makes the restaurant stand out from the crowd.
To be more specific - dim lighting, clean lines, simple dark furniture...but then you also have weighty chopsticks, custom made wooden serving dishes and quirky Korean wall art. When you walk in, you instantly feel very cool.
As is the norm nowadays, the food is designed for sharing. There is an extensive menu but luckily my fellow diner and I had similar choices in mind.
The Korean Fried Chicken Sliders...
You will notice that my fellow diner couldn't wait to get her hands on one before I had a chance to take a photo...
They were crispy, sweet and easily my favourite dish of the night.
I'm very sad to say that the food went downhill after the Sliders. It didn't come crashing down but there was a gradual diminuendo that left us feeling pretty flat.
The Sae-Woo Pops...crispy round prawn cakes served on sticks. They looked pretty funky but unfortunately there was no wow factor.
The Bulgogi Beef Tacos...thinly sliced beef marinated in Korean Spices, Asian Slaw and Kimchi. The Beef was tough and dry and the avocado looked a bit clumsy.
Perhaps I am a little partial as I have recently been spoilt by some amazing home-made tacos and some magnificent goat tacos at Smokehouse in Chiswick.
The Mandoo...Beef and Pork dumplings seasoned with Korean Spices and served with Soy dipping sauce.
And the main event, Korean Fried Chicken Wings served with the cutest bottles of sauces - Jinjuu Black Soy and Gochujang Red.
They were super crispy and I wish we'd ordered them before everything else as we were pretty full at that point in the evening.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the food at Jinjuu, but there was no "stand out" dish. Everything was just "quite good" and I feel as though the vibe and buzz of the place warranted better food and better flavours.
Unfortunately, the waiters forgot about us for 45 minutes at the end of our meal which meant we had congealed cold remains (including chicken bones) on our table for quite some time. It put us off ordering dessert. The waiter also struggled to split the bill between two so my fellow diner was overcharged by a pound.
Despite all of the above, Jinjuu was just so darn cool. From the name, to the location, to the decor, to all of the quirky extras. But it was definitely a case of style over substance. But there is hope and massive potential; a few adjustments to each dish and you're definitely on to a winner.