Jinjuu (Soho): where chicks had Seoul from day to night

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreTV chef Judy Joo’s Jinjuu is of those places I’ve “uhm”-ed and “ahh”-ed about. I’ve read less-than-enthusiastic reviews from my food critic heroes Jay Rayner and Fay Maschler (which was apparently deleted due at Jinjuu’s request) so it was never really on my priority list. However, I’ve heard and read enough mixed reviews to get curious.

True enough my two visits has been a tale of two cities.

Late lunch

G and I went for a bit of a shop and in the muggy heat of Summer, we decided to grab the nearest and quickest table possible before we melted. The restaurant of choice was Jinjuu.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreWe requested for a table indoors, because we didn’t want to be sat outside. There were many free tables but apparently they were “reserved”. At 5pm? Okay. The tables ended up being empty after we had finished.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreFirst to arrive was Jinjuu’s signature Korean Fried Chicken (KFC, har). You get a plate of KFC thighs/wings (or mixed) with homemade gochujang and soy. It’s a good buy for £9; I loved the crispy batter and the chicken was moist and juicy. Pair it with beer and you’re all good.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreThe bulgogi beef tacos (£9) were nice enough and filling! The beef was actually soft and had good flavour. The Asian slaw gave it some sort of vibrance, but I could care less about the thin slices of avocado on top.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreYou know I have a thing for jap chae (£8.5) so after seeing a neighbouring table devour a full plate in 3 minutes, I panic ordered it too. The serving was quite generous and there was a lot of veg in there, but unfortunately I found it a bit too dry and lacking in flavour.
Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreG ordered a side of kimchi fried rice (£5.5) which had pancetta, mixed veg and topped with a fried egg and seaweed. I thought it had good flavour but not enough punch and was a tad too oily.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreWe also shared some Asian slaw (£3.5) which is essentially slaw with gochugaru chili flakes. It wasn’t particularly spicy, but it was a good thing to have with the fried chicken.

Overall, my first visit was decent enough, but mostly carried by that good KFC (drinks weren’t so bad either). There were enough interesting things on the menu for me to want to go back.

So I did.

Dinner

Remember A? Well she’s back in London and I wanted to take her somewhere new. I figured Carnaby Street was a good place to start the night so we ended up in Jinjuu.

We didn’t have a reservation and the place was packed but front of house was nice enough to give us a table for an hour (we ended up staying two hours).

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreJinjuu by The Girl Next Shore

Any tête-à-tête with A involves cocktails, and it was fair to say our aperitifs were on point. A studied in LCF so we ordered the London Fashion Week monthly specials. I got the Gin-Gem (£11), made with Langley gin, pomegranate liqueur, fresh yuca & grapefruit, plum bitters and mediterranean tonic (£11). This was boozy, dry, but absolutely refreshing. A ordered the Captain Ching (£11). Made with Santa Teresa Gran Reserva, yuja juice, cinnamon, blackcurrant cordial and fresh berries, this was absolutely fruity and fresh.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreWe had some Sae-woo pops (£8 for 5) with our cocktails. These round prawn cakes were good bar food. We liked the crispy coating and the filling was very tasty, and addictive with the creamy gochujang mayo.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreOn our server’s recommendation, we also had the kimbap (£7.5) which is synonymous to a vegetarian sushi roll. To be honest, this was quite forgettable as it was bland. We should’ve gone for the short rib and kimchi mandoo instead.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreWe ordered the bibimbap (£9.5) with bulgogi (+ £5). Served sizzling in a stone bowl and gochujang on the side, there was a good amount of rice in it. I reckon if there had been a tad bit less rice, the spicy sauce would have shone through. The beef was delicious and it was actually more tasty in the rice bowl than in tacos. This was definitely better than the jap chae.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreI wanted A to try the signature KFC. We ordered the mixed platter but unforch, the wings didn’t deliver this time. The chicken was still juicy although seemingly slightly overcooked. The coating wasn’t actually coating the chicken and though still crispy, it was a bit oilier than last time. Shame.

Jinjuu by The Girl Next ShoreA and I had another round of cocktails. She went for the koffeine (£10), a good mix of cold brew coffee, Buffalo Trace bourbon, chocolate, banana & orange bitters. I went for the soju-based lychee lover (£10.5) which had lychee liqueur, aromatic bitters & prosecco (£10.5). Both equally good and equally strong, we were in cahoots after downing these.

Verdict

Overall, I think Jinjuu has a pretty decent and interesting menu but food’s a bit of a hit or miss. (I still think the signature KFC is a winner.) The place has a pretty cool vibe and the clientele is a mix of hipster younguns to suits and made-in-trendy types. Service is quite warm and the waiters are sweet.

Go for pre-drinks with your buddies. Or just go for some chicken, prawn pops and cocktails.

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Jinjuu London
Kingly Court, 15 Kingly St, London W1B 5PS
Ave spend pp: £35
Jinjuu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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21 Comments

  1. 25th September 2016 / 1:50 pm

    That fried chicken looks SO GOOD.

    • Honey de Gracia
      26th September 2016 / 6:59 pm

      Not gonna lie, Lucy. It was pretty yummy! =)

  2. 25th September 2016 / 4:47 pm

    Well I’ve heard that you’ll definitely leave Jinnjuu feeling full and it definitely looks like it!

    • Honey de Gracia
      26th September 2016 / 6:59 pm

      Especially after that bibimbap!

  3. 25th September 2016 / 6:26 pm

    I have only been once and I felt the same. Dishes were a bit hit and miss…but overall I did enjoy and would go back. Especially for that KFC!!

    • Honey de Gracia
      26th September 2016 / 6:59 pm

      There are so many things on the menu I still wanna try! =)

  4. 26th September 2016 / 12:47 pm

    I was a bit disappointed with the veggie sushi and dim-sum, but other than that loved all my veggie dishes here – especially their tofu sliders! Such a fab vibe too xx

    • Honey de Gracia
      26th September 2016 / 6:59 pm

      Yeah that veggie sushi was really a letdown, it was so bland! I want to try the sliders next time! =)

    • Honey de Gracia
      26th September 2016 / 6:58 pm

      They were very moreish! =)

  5. 27th September 2016 / 10:43 am

    The Korean Fried Chicken…. I’m SOLD. Love a good crispy bit of chicken!

    • Honey de Gracia
      27th September 2016 / 6:56 pm

      Go, Gary! And the drinks were amazing too!

  6. Suze - Luxury Columnist
    27th September 2016 / 10:55 am

    Sounds like a bit of a mixed bag and I hate it when places say that tables are reserved when they aren’t.

    • Honey de Gracia
      27th September 2016 / 6:57 pm

      So do I! It’s so weird and sometimes quite off-putting!

  7. 1st October 2016 / 12:27 pm

    How annoying about the tables being “reserved”. Would love to try the KFC – it’s a shame the food is so hit and miss xx

    • Honey de Gracia
      2nd October 2016 / 10:01 am

      Yeah it really was annoying. To be fair that KFC was really yummy and the next time we went they were quite generous with saving us a table whilst waiting for a friend. x

  8. 1st October 2016 / 3:26 pm

    I’ll make sure to get a giant plate of KFC and a Lychee Lover when I go – thanks for the honest review, H! x

    • Honey de Gracia
      2nd October 2016 / 10:02 am

      Always, T! xxx

  9. 9th October 2016 / 12:20 pm

    I keep hearing amazing things about Jinju, I can’t believe I still haven’t been – the fried chicken looks incredible!
    Lx
    Elle Bloggs

    • Honey de Gracia
      9th October 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Do try, Lauren, it’s awesome! =)

  10. 3rd January 2018 / 4:28 am

    I hope this place is still around – I’m dying to try it now, especially for that KFC!!!

    xo Jaime
    Angloyankophile

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