Thursday 19 February 2015

Joo Bar - Tan Quee Lan Street

Joo is born from a desire to offer top notch modern Korean bites and creative drinks in a space that exudes a laid-back vibe with a tasteful dose of edginess. Joo is the latest addition to the vibrant F&B scene, located within a heritage three-storey shophouse in the heart of Singapore along Tan Quee Lan Street, Bugis.

'Joo' is 'alcohol' in Korean - the bar and restaurant offers funky drinks menu complemented by quality food. It is also a brand new makgeolli bar that ups the trend factor with inspiring modern Korean fare and tipples.

Joo is the first in Singapore to proudly brew its signature drink - the makgeolli - as well as serve it on tap.  For makgeolli newbies, an ideal choice would be the Makgeolli sampler ($35 for 5) that showcases the home brew and four in-house creations. Flavours such as original, yucha, strawberry, peach and lychee.

The sampler will give you a sense of different flavour profiles that makgeolli offers. Among the 5 flavours, I personally love the lychee and yucha - light and refreshing! Just so you know, Makgeolli is the oldest alcoholic beverage native to Korea.

Started off with Anju - typically food that goes well with alcohol.

Best snack to pair with beers - Tofu Chips with Guacamole & Kimchi Salsa $14. A house made platter of hexagon chips served with an enticing avocado and cucumber-based duo of chips. This is really addictive, even without the condiments. I just can't stop.

Baby eel paper $14 which is an addictive deep-fried snack served with a sprinkling of chilli salt and lime zest. A unique bar snack and also best pairing with beers.

Warm kimchi with tofu and spam ($16) - the name probably says it all. Kimchi were well marinated and rich in flavour. Stack them in layers and eat it like a burger. *Just so you know, tiny hexagonal-shaped icons on the menu indicate suggested alcohol pairings with these bites.

Joo Bossam ($28) - the meat is boiled with doenjang (fermented bean paste) and served with yucha-vinegar-pickled cabbage and spicy radish salad. How to eat - have all 3 together in layers and bite it. One of my favorite dish among the rest, love how soft and tender the meat is.

Those hankering for a unique snack will find comfort in this dish.

Only the best Hungarian Mangalitsa pork is used for Joo's porcine selections, here's Slow roasted mangalitsa belly $32. Approximately 200g of meat is brined with salt, pepper, soju and makgeolli before it is steam-roasted for 2 hours and 45 minutes, then served with a side of shredded chives seasoned with chilli flakes and soy sauce. I've to say the pork belly is really good.

My favorite dish for the night - Hand chopped Korean minced rib steak ($20). This tender US prime meat is lightly marinated with garlic, soy, honey and yucha then flame-grilled. Each bite I take, it feels like I went to heaven. It's so soft and moist, the fragrant of the grilling is just stunning. 
Highly recommended for this to pair with alcohol!

One of the hearty dishes include Kimchi chicken potpie ($14) - cracking the golden pastry dome unearths a rosy kimchi bechamel gravy studded with chicken tenderloin pieces as well as celery, carrot, mushrooms, onion and corn. A unique dish which showcase how tasty creamy kimchi gravy can be.

The stew section is brimming with selections such as Seafood gochujang risotto ($24) - entices with lashings of fresh shrimps, mussels, clams and squid sautéed with hot pepper paste, then added to Korean rice that is prepared the traditional way. And finishing with cream as well as parmesan cheese. 
Overall, it tasted pretty decent - nothing out of the world. 

A delightful option for groups is the Yucha Sojurita ($28, for 2-4) which is a big glass of frozen soju-yucha-cointreau-lemon juice mix with an added slug of an overturned 330ml bottle of Hite beer. A refreshing beverage with a combination of yucha and Hite beer. If you're coming in big group, I would highly recommend this.

// UPDATE: Launched in late Feb 2015, Joo’s new range of makgeolli cocktails is set to excite the fermented rice brew lover. Korean bartender Eddy Jang was inspired by the atmosphere of Korean cities as well as districts, and has dreamed up a collection of five tipples that evokes the spirit of each area. The base for each cocktail is Joo’s House brew organic makgeolli (also known as Joo Brew) – a cloudy, light-bodied and mild tasting drink.

Credit: Joo Bar
The Busan Breeze ($20) is a free-spirited blend of Joo Brew, Tanqueray No. 10, Peachtree schnapps and Blue Curaçao and represents the coastal beauty. This sea-blue creation  is served in a highball glass with a cucumber and fresh rosemary garnish.

Credit: Joo Bar
 Hong Dae Tripping ($24) is a zesty drink that represents the artsy vibe of this area, and is a delicious mix of Joo Brew, Grey Goose, Apricot Brandy, Cherry Blossom syrup, Lemon, and fresh  Rosemary. It is then shaken and served in a martini glass.

Didn't managed to take a photo of the soju cocktails I had. Joo offers a range of soju (distilled Korean rice wine), flavours available such as Lime soju mojito and Grape soju mojito (both at $14, glass; $24, small jug; $40, large jug); made with fresh lime juice and grapes repetitively. 
My personal take would be the Grape soju mojito.

Credit: Joo
I personally like the ambience here, playing a slow pace Korean hip hop music in the bar makes it even better. Definitely in my list of best places to chill.

Opened in late November 2014, the latest trendsetting addition to a vibrant F&B scene is Joo – a sleek, casual and inviting venue to chill after a stressful day of work. Joo is also ingeniously created by Singaporean aficionados of Korean culture and food; Jamie and Kristin Lim. Key highlights are its fantastic house brew makgeolli and quality Korean fare by Head Chef Kim Chang Heon - be sure to try!

Joo Bar
5 Tan Quee Lan Street
Singapore 188094
Tel: 8138 1628
Opening Hours: 530pm - 12am daily

*This was an invited media tasting.

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