Cheesesteak dumplings? It’s Working Lunch at Jinjuu
15 Kingly St, W1B
WHAT AND WHERE? Jinjuu – meaning pearl – is the food baby of Korean-American TV chef Judy Joo. She quit a high-flying career as an investment banker to do some hard graft in the kitchen of Gordon Ramsays empire before breaking out on her own as the host of Food Networks Korean Food Made Simple. This spot in an industrial basement space in Carnaby is Jinjuus only London outpost. Youd have to go all the way to Hong Kong to find another one.
WHATS THE DEAL? Theres an Express Lunch menu comprising a main, a side and a drink for £12.50 to take back to your desk, but we sat in and sampled the Lunch Set menu. This offers 2/3/4 dishes for £14/£20/£24 per person including a dessert. Theyre all items chosen off the main menu and are liable to change.
WHAT SHOULD I ORDER? Theres a choice to be made here between delicate and dirty. If you need to be alert at your desk afterwards, wed go for the pork and kimchi hotpot. Its a bit of a winter warmer, but its just as complex as it is comforting (and not too fatty either). The trio of mandoo (dumplings) comprise two beautifully thin varieties, with wild mushroom and truffle or beef and pork. The third is fried and filled with Philly cheesesteak – really. If youve committed to a good time, then the Korean fried chicken is not to be missed. Served in a heavy batter, its markedly different from the sticky, spicy variety found elsewhere in Soho, but its surprisingly tender and served with a tiny bottle of soy and chilli sauce so you can season to your hearts content. Theres also plenty here for veggies.
IS THERE ANYTHING WORTH GOING OFF MENU FOR? Theres an entire menu for vegans, but the tuna tataki, served with a sesame crust, feels like a treat wrapped up in lettuce and seaweed with chilli sauce.
The green tea bingsu
ROOM FOR DESSERT? Make some, the dessert was the best part. A nutty brownie is served with knockout miso ice cream and the mango bingsu, a mesmerising layered sundae of shaved ice with rum-soaked pineapple and crunchy shards of toasted coconut, was something to shout about. Alternatively, the honey and red ginseng iced tea hit the spot during the heatwave, though we found the chamomile and agave unbearably sweet.
NEED TO BOOK? Call 020 8181 8887 or visit jinjuu.com/london-soho