Jinjuu in Mayfair
It’s hard to find fault in Jinjuu Mayfair’s Korean Fried Chicken. The signature dish of Judy Joo’s second London branch, it ticks every box with such aplomb that the loss of CheeMc this week seems like less of a tragedy. An eventual answer of more sesame and chilli is fair but admittedly nitpicky, we’re talking the minor sort of changes that separate nine from a ten. Better to focus on its virtues: golden batter is stunningly crispy and light, without ever straying towards greasy, a feat that is especially remarkable as the boneless thighs positively drip with juice and flavour. It flirts with the fiery heat of chilli without straying over the line into mouth-melting hot. It’s succulent, delicious and perfectly spiced: if the Korean Fried Chicken was all that Jinjuu offered, we’d probably come back at least twice a month.
Wagyu Sliders have potential, the gorgeously marbled beef somewhat wasted by the mincing process but still delivering a beautifully moist puck, all that sweet fat put to great use. But it could do with something more tart in there too: the waves of fatty, salty delight that crash upon the tongue need something sharp to cut through them, lest they drown your senses in a luxuriousness that turns to stifling.
Tuna Flatbread reads beautifully: thin slices of raw tuna atop a slice of crisp seaweed flatbread, but doesn’t quite live up to the billing. Stunningly tender and flavourful tuna is overwhelmed by unnecessary extras, dabs of sauces and greenery that do little more than complicate things. Said sauces are an odd combination of citric tang and creaminess that just don’t mesh.
The duck for the main course is cooked perfectly, blushing pink with a wonderful char. Accompanying seaweed and steamed rice, offered to make rolls with the duck, are both surprisingly delicious in their simplicity, even if the seaweed is too fragile to really hold everything convincingly. Kimchi Fried Rice goes the other way, overcomplicating things with egg and far too much oil, to the point where it ends up as less than the sum of its parts.
A snickers-inspired Hotteok dessert is a nice way to end: a slick of salty peanut ice cream with gooey chocolate ganache and a Korean-style dumpling for textural contrast. With a glass of Riesling, it’s an irreverent bit of fun that’s surprising well pulled off, not only in concept but in execution. A Lemon Posset is the same – tart without ever becoming mouth puckering, creamy, rich and luxurious. Leave off the odd, overtly salty seaweed shortbread it came with and it would be a winner.
That’s the story here really, plenty of talent, plenty of good or even great elements to dishes: the pieces are all there. What it needs is to get that little bit meaner with things that simply don’t work, that little bit leaner with the selection on offer, that little bit more precise with flavour pairings. Plenty of potential killer here (that chicken), but in a market as competitive as Mayfair they would do well to cut the filler.
Photos: Daniel Masters, except featured
To book a table a Jinjuu, 39 Albemarle Street London W1S 4JQ, call 020 3889 0780 or visit here.