Korean restaurant & Makgeolli bar, Joo Bar, on Tan Quee Lan Street in Bugis is one classy bar perfect for us ladies on a night out with our girls. It serves up Korean-inspired grub in unique takes (Kimchi Chicken Potpie, anyone?) and dainty portions (i.e. no waistline-damning pots of stew or carbs) and the drinks are fun… and potent. Another plus point, and so so important for us girls (and our instagram), the décor with its gold accents on black is slick and luxe. That’s what I did with a couple of girlfriends last night. Although we had a good time especially with the food, I couldn’t foresee bringing a date or family here. Here’s why.
This spot is more fun than gastronomic. The consistent branding took my breath away! The slick honeycomb pattern was present throughout. From the signboard outside the bar to the coasters and even the paper food was served on. Like the Truffle Fries (S$14) we shared:
Heavily-scented with truffle oil and accompanied with gochujang mayo, we most certainly enjoyed this and the generous portion. However I liked that print on the paper more! Joo Bar branding, I was definitely digging it!
Before we began our meal, I got a jar of Yucha (Yuzu) Makgeolli Slushie ($22) because its a Makgeolli bar. Although the Yuzu Soju was my first choice but they were out of stock for it. This slushie was a good choice though. Deceivingly potent, the icy Yuzu cocktail got us giggly in no time plus the small jug was a lot considering how potent it was. We did not managed to finish.
However I can not foresee asking a boy much less my family enjoy this with me. It’s a feminine drink.
We came to Joo Bar to check out the Joo Wings. Naturally as girls, we side-tracked and ended up ordering a whole lot of other grub off Instagram. I can no longer do menus without pictures… I must say, the “other grub” turned out to be better than the Joo Wings ($18). It was a little skinny – a meatier and a thicker crust wings would have made it unforgettable. And where was the “spicy and sweet soy glaze” listed on the menu? So girls, skip the wings…
These chicken poppers were inspired by the infamous Korean crisps of the same flavor. I much preferred this version to the crisps. The thick crust with the honey sauce was a dream! Eat this hot/ warm though. When cold, the crust hardens akin to a pebble.
Another must-order is the Seafood Rappoki ($22) akin to Buddae Jiggae (Korean Army Stew) but not really. Rappoki is a popular fusion dish among young generation in Korea. It’s a combination of Ramyon and Toppoki with added vegetables and fish cake. Here’s what I love about this at Joo Bar: the size as it was served in a small cast-iron pot kinder to our waistlines compared to the big stew pots. Filled generously with seafood, Korean rice cakes, spam and noodles then topped with an unfathomable-amount of cheese, how I loved the thick spicy stew!!! I will return just for this bowl.
Another traditional Korean dish given a new spin: Cheesy Kimchi Seafood Pancake. ($22) Good luck trying to find the seafood but this thin pie did not lack in flavor. Plus texturally sound with undeniable crisp edges and cheesiness, I loved it but I doubt my Asian-food-loving parents will understand the cheese.
When one is satisfied with the savouries, Joo Bar has a couple of desserts for us girls but this Red Bean Yuzu Bingsu with Makgeolli-infused ice was a wonderful surprise and perfect ending! Those rice puff chunks adorning the whole shenanigans provided a much-needed crunch to the finely shaved ice. Plus I was totally digging the strong Yuzu flavor going on.
If you are adventuous, the flavored Makgeolli shots sample is fun too. Five flavours perfect for a couple of sips before being passed to the next girlfriend. Passion fruit, Yuzu and Lychee were the best!
Will I return to Joo Bar? Sure thing! Cosy, classy and portions that won’t kill the waistline (unless you go all out and order a million things off the menu), I cannot wait to organize a girls night out there!