Joo Bar is a fun, makgeolli bar and restaurant that sets itself up as a fun, laid-back place to get your fix of Korean grub with some funky soju and makgeolli cocktails. I visited early this year when it had just opened to chat with owner and master brewer Jamie Lim about how he does his house-brewed alcohol.
For the uninitiated, makgeolli is a light, sweet alcoholic beverage made of wheat or rice mixed with nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter. It’s often drunk as it is or mixed with fruit and other flavours for a delicious drink. I was curious about their cocktails and here are some of the highlights.
Price: $$ – $$$
We started with the makgeolli cocktails pictured above — the Busan Breeze ($20) made of Joo brew, Tanqueray No 10, Peach Tree with Blue Curacao and Hong Dae Tripping ($24), a mix of Joo brew, Grey Goose, Grand Marnier St Germain and Champagne. Both were sweet, fruity and delicious and went well with the starter of Tofu Chips with Guacamole ($14).
Next up, we were served the Warm Kimchi with Tofu and Spam ($16).
This was a simple dish of house made kimchi, mangalitsa pork belly, tofu, onion and scallions. Nothing special here but generally, these went well with the drinks.
Jamie insists the Mangalitsa pork belly is a must-try there. So he served up the Grilled Mangalitsa Belly ($25) served with chive salad and garlic chips.
To be honest, this wasn’t as mind-blowing as hyped. The pork was fatty and had a generally soft homogenous texture despite being grilled.
We also tried one of their other specials, the Kimchi Chicken Potpie ($14) with chicken tenderloin, celery, carrot, onion, corn, kimchi béchamel and puff pastry.
I wasn’t expecting much from this dish, but it was really quite addictive. The kimchi sauce was a right blend of spicy, savoury and creamy and this was really comforting with the golden, flaky pastry. Surprisingly good.
The next arrival, the Hand-chopped Korean Minced Meat Rib Steak ($20).
This was tasty and the seasoning was great. But the meat just tasted like a regular mince. Nothing impressive in terms of texture.
The final dish though added some real oomph to the meal. This is the Seafood Gochujang Risotto ($24).
I’m surprised that gochujang is not more widely used around the world because it is a beautifully delicious savoury sauce of chilis, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. This risotto was cooked well and soaked in that flavourful seafood goodness with a generous helping of mussels, clams, prawns and squid. Truly delicious!
Joo Bar is worth visiting for a night out with friends. The food isn’t outstanding but is generally tasty and there are a couple of hits on the menu. It’s best to share these dishes so you get to try as many as possible rather than fill up on one. Also, the drinks are inexpensive (especially the flavoured makgeolli) so it’s a great place for pre-drinks before a night out as well.
Beach Road Conservation Area, 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, 188094
OPENING HOURS Daily: 17:30 – 00:00
PHONE: +65 81381628