I had the honour to be invited back again to Joo Bar to taste their new dinner menu which has already been launched since 1st March as their latest Spring menu which will last till 31st May. Joo Bar is Singapore’s first Korean Makgeolli bar and restaurant housed within a three-storey heritage shophouse which offers top-notch modern bites in a sleek and casual setting. The food we got to taste was impeccable, lets get started shall we?
Joo Calamari ($14) | Kimchi tempura battered squid, arrabiata sauce
The first dish we have is the Joo Calamari, a typical sounding appetizer but trust me, the taste isn’t pedestrian at all. Arrabiata sauce is a spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and red chili peppers cooked in olive oil. Firstly, the tempura squid was so crispy with a resonant crunch sound when we bit into it, but what made it stand out was the kimchi batter, being mild in spiciness yet solid tasting for me. I loved the freshness of the squid, which broke out of the batter ring in a full piece. The accompanying sauce elevated the savoury notes of the tempura squid, yet did not stray away from its kimchi base. A solid appetizer overall.
Chive & Oyster Pancake ($22) | Chive, onion, spring onion, fresh oysters
I am a Korean food lover, but I am usually not the kind to rave over seafood/kimchi pancakes, because I have eaten ones that have fallen flat in terms of flavour. However, Joo Bar’s Chive & Oyster pancake just takes the trophy. I loved all the components of this dish especially the oysters which were the main selling point of the pancake. The edges of the pancake were slightly crisp and I liked that the batter was not too thick and did not make the pancake too chewy. Fresh plump oysters were littered rather generously in every portion of the whole pancake, and they were extremely fresh. The accompanying soy sauce also helped to give the dish an elevated savoury taste.
Golbengi Noodle Salad ($18) | Somen noodles, marinated conch, sweet and spicy sauce
Another delightful appetizer is this noodle salad accompanied with sweet and spicy sauce. I love cold noodles and especially love eating them with a flavourful sauce. The cold noodles were al dente and springy, the conch was fresh and chewy. The sauce kept a good balance between the sweet and spicy elements.
Korean Braised Brisket ($22) | Sous-vide beef brisket, mash potatoes, glazed carrot
This dish particularly blew me away that night. The beef brisket was so fork-tender, having been sous-vide for 48 hours, a delicate process indeed. The process retained the flavours of the beef, without being gamey at all, yet possessed a punch that will satiate all beef lovers. The mash potatoes was definitely nothing that I have eaten before, I tasted a very distinct taste of french butter and milk, giving the mash a silky smooth texture and taste. I liked that the glazed carrots were not cooked until they were too mushy, which the chef explained that he made it crunchy so as to contrast with the mash potatoes as he wanted to provide texture in the dish. A very well executed dish with rich flavours won us over.
Sizzling Wagyu Steak ($35) | MBS 7 Australian Wagyu, spring onion, king oyster mushroom, onion, garlic herb butter
I am a huge beef lover and especially of wagyu steaks so it was an understatement to say I was excited by this dish. This fine piece of steak held a grade 7 marbling score of 12, which was pretty impressive, since scores 10 to 12 usually have meat that are very chewy, as told to us by the head chef. The steak was simply seasoned and so beautifully tender. I absolutely loved the freedom to adjust the doneness of the steak according to our preference. We skimmed the fragrant herb butter all over the steak, and frankly that was the only seasoning it needed.
Spicy BBQ Pork Ribs ($22) | Baby back ribs, house-made dry rub and BBQ sauce, pickled radish cubes
I have always been wary of places serving pork ribs because firstly, pork ribs with BBQ sauce are too commonplace nowadays. Also, pork ribs are something that can be messed up, in terms of the flavouring and also the tenderness of the pork. Joo Bar did it right with this one. The house-made dry rub had an earthy taste to it, coupled with the BBQ sauce which was Korean inspired, made the pork ribs taste unique and not like other ribs out there. The ribs were easy to tear apart, the meat was tender but yet had sort of a bite to it.
Doenjang Clam Risotto ($22) | Korean bean paste, clam, spring onion
I was a little hesitant about this dish at first, because I have had a bad experience with clams long ago, that I grew adverse towards clams in general. I love risotto, but was apprehensive about how the clams were going to convince me otherwise. I love the seasoning and texture of the risotto, they were not starchy and wet unlike many other risotto dishes out there. The whole flavour was light on the palate such that after a few mouthfuls it just got better as the taste of the dish was not one dimensional. The clams won me over with its freshness, most importantly.
Spicy Seafood Pasta ($24) | House-made chilli paste, clam, black mussel, squid, prawn, shitake, spinach, spring onion
I generally steer clear away from most spicy dishes as I have an absolutely low heat tolerance. Therefore if I was adventurous enough to try a spicy dish, it has to be sweet too on top of the dish being spicy, which is the main element. This seafood pasta managed to hold a great balance between the sweet and spicy elements of the house-made chilli paste. The pasta was al dente, having soaked up the flavours of the sauce. It managed to avoid being one dimension and unbearable and I absolutely loved it although it did get pretty spicy for me after a few mouthfuls. The seafood were fresh and sizeable.
Joo Beer ($9 – half pint, $13 – full pint)
Whats better than washing down the flavours of the food with a bottle of cold beer? Joo Bar brews their own beer, korean-style. Their pale lager had a solid malt body coupled with sweet notes. Even a non-alcoholic and non-drinker like me loved the beer; I found myself gurgling down the beverage as it was so refreshing to my palate after several rounds of food.
Overall, Joo Bar serves up some impeccable tasting korean fusion food that gives other restaurants a run for their money. I highly respect the skills and execution of the dishes by the head chef, as well as the minute details and thought put into crafting the menu to cater to the palate of the public without compromising on taste.
Address: 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094
Opening Hours: Daily (12-2.30pm, 5pm – 12am)