When I first heard of Joo Bar’s existence, I was rather skeptical of its concept of being a restaurant/bar specialising in makgeolli. Having heard from Sam that the drink wasn’t very nice, I had no intention of trying it. Who knew that we would try makgeolli on another occasion, and boy, we realised how wrong he was! I have to say that this korean alcohol tops my list, above soju and the rest.
At Joo Bar, the drinks take centerstage. Food is merely an accompaniment to your choice of poison. We opted for the Makgeolli Sampler ($35) which was a selection of 5 flavours of makgeolli. From 1 to 5: Original, yuzu citron slushie, mango, strawberry and lychee. Our favourite had to be the yuzu citron which was super refreshing! I liked all of them (plus points for the lychee which had a pronounced flavour) except the strawberry, which I decided to give a miss altogether when Zhen said it tasted like fever medicine. Eeks.
The trio of banchan (first serving is free) served at the start of our meal was delightfully addictive. The pickled radish (I think) was crunchy and tangy, while the pasta salad was really tasty. The only disappointment had to be the crispy-looking thingy, which turned out to be nowhere as crisp as it looked. If only these were refillable… :p
Order some Anju to complement your drinks. We opted for the Tofu Chips ($14) which were deliciously crunchy. I can’t fathom how this is tofu in any way, but no complaints here. It was yummy! It came with a dip of guacamole and an interesting kimchi salsa and was polished off in an instant.
The Slow Roasted Mangalitsa Belly ($32) was a simple dish of fatty pork belly that was marinated in salt, pepper, soju and makgeolli. A pity that we could not really taste the alcohol, but it was good nonetheless, especially with the mustard dip.
Even better, was the L.A. Style Black Angus Kalbi ($26), which were beef short ribs slathered in a soy marinade and paired with shiitake mushrooms. These were fantastically tasty, and we polished them off in minutes.
My favourite dish had to be the Seafood Gojuchang Risotto ($24). Just mildly spicy, but with a lovely flavour of the Korean red pepper paste, this was a stunningly good pairing with the Italian rice. It came with a pretty generous serving of mussels, clams and juicy prawns.
Joo Bar is easy to miss if you’re walking along the row of shops at Tan Quee Lan street. Unassuming, dark, and hidden in the shadows. But it is warmly inviting to those who venture in. There are quite a number of other drinks which look really interesting and I can’t wait to try it!
5 Tan Quee Lan Street
Tel.: +65 8138 1628