Located in a 3 story heritage shop house along Tan Quee Lan (opposite Bugis Junction Shopping Centre) , Joo Bar’s edgy yet cozy interiors are certainly attractive and welcoming.
You can be assured that the folks here are passionate about their drinks, after all, Joo means “alcohol” in Korean. When a place brews its own Makgeolli (Korean rice wine) , you know it will be good.
While waiting for the food to arrive, we sipped on Yucha Makgeolli ($22 for small/$36 for large), a smooth and creamy beverage with an appealing yuzu flavour. I’m not much of a drinker, but enjoyed this immensely as the alcohol content is not too high (6-8%).
Joo Bar’s Menu revolves around traditional Korean flavours, with touches of occasional modernity (more evident in their desserts).
The crowd favourite, Honey Butter Chicken ($18), features tender chicken pieces and rice cakes, coated with Honey Butter. My dining companions and I liked the chewy tteobokki and mouth-watering honey butter glaze, which was not at all cloying. A starter and bar snack that works exceedingly well!
The sight of the of the Joo Wings ($18) had us salivating. The perfectly-fried chicken wings, boast succulent, tender flesh encased within a crunchy exterior. The wings are further elevated with spicy-sweet soy glaze. The spicy notes provided a nice heat in the background, kept the taste profile engaging without being overwhelming.
Equally good was the Grilled Mangalitsa Belly ($18). Thick cut premium pork belly, licked by the flames of the grill, arrived aptly charred and fragrant. I usually shun away from fat, but the fat in this swine was too tasty to resist. Plus, we were told that the fat of the Mangalica Pigs is rich in collagen and high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants, so go ahead and dive in without any guilt! The pork belly accompaniments, fried garlic chips and spring onion salad, were minimal yet impactful. They enhanced, not distract, the wonderful flavours of the grilled meat.
Busy bees can shake off midday blues with Joo Bar’s tasty and nutritious Lunch Special- Customised Bibimbap ($10.90). Select a grain, a protein, 3 toppings and finish with either spicy or soy sauce. Bibimbaps are presented in a massive, sizzling stone bowl, and are only available during lunchtime. The portion is quite large, so do be cautious when adding extra complements as it may become difficult to finish it alone.
Dessert was an interesting marriage of Korean bean paste infused into custard. Jab your fork to break apart the thinly welded caramelized sugar top to reveal smooth custard within. The gratifying Doenjang Creme Brulee ($12) was finished with delicately thin sesame tempura tuile.
Other unique sweet endings that caught my eye were the Yucha Kimchi Cannoli ( yucha, ricotta, chopped mixed nuts and white chocolate ice cream) and Chocopop Gateau ( bacon infused chocolate ganache, graham cracker crumble)
Overall, we had an exceeding satisfying dinner at Joo Bar. The dishes were tried were above average and the prices are reasonable, making this a suitable premise for gatherings with friends and colleagues.
Many thanks to Joo Bar for the invite.