Korean Review: Joo Bar at 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094

If you are in the Bugis area and looking for a place to eat and drink merrily, Korean-themed Joo Bar is the place to go! I was invited for a tasting there recently and totally enjoyed myself. Do you know that Joo Bar concocts their very own makgeolli - which is a milky white alcoholic beverage native to Korea? (By the way, to do that in Singapore in bulk for sale means you have to apply and pay for a license, but you can brew your own alcohol without if its just for personal consumption). Save the trouble and have some delicious makgeolli at Joo Bar instead lah! I read that because the drink is unfiltered and fermented with yeast it contains high levels of lactic acid and lactobacillus bacteria that is 500 times more compared to yogurt! Though of course, everything in moderation *hic.

Joo Bar Singapore food review
There are two levels to Joo Bar, which is a shophouse along Tan Quee Lan street, closer to the end of the street if you're walking over from Bugis Junction. We started our feast with some yummy tofu chips with guac and kimchi salsa (S$14). I don't really care for those chips... as long as it allows me to scoop up massive amounts of those salsa! 4/5. 

PS: If you want more light bites, try their Spam Fries (S$12) with gojuchang dip as well, pretty good (this was from the second time I went on my own.)

Next up, some signature Joo Wings (S$18). These babies are so good I came back again for them! They were sweet and crispy on the outside, juicy and moist inside like any good self-respecting Korean fried chicken joint. 4/5

We tried some Dak Kang Jung (S$18) which are chicken tenders marinated with gochujang, honey, garlic and chopped nuts. They are sweet too, and the garlic was quite shiok, though the entire dish wasn't that memorable. Rather addictive - they disappeared off the plate rather quickly! 3/5

Then there's the Honey Butter Chicken (S$18) which has a honey butter glaze. I liked this too, but it was quite similar to the previous chicken tenders dish. Not that outstanding as well. 3/5

We also tried two portions of their DIY Bibimbap (S$10.90) which is only available from noon to 2.30pm for lunch. You can design your own using an order sheet (view here). Here we tried two types, one using brown rice and another with quinoa! There was some really delicious beef in there. For that price, I'll say it is very good value! 4/5

We also had the Sizzling Mushroom Trio (S$15) which had enoki, shitake and king oyster mushrooms but honestly? A waste of calories... it is nice but I don't think people go to Korean restaurants to eat mushrooms. Except if you're vegan/vegetarian perhaps. SKIP! 2/5

Then, the supposed superstar of the night - the Slow Roasted Mangalitsa Belly (S$32) which many previous reviewers raved about. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectations for me! *sadface* I thought it will be a melt-in-your-mouth experience but they were just dry and had a strong porky taste. The latter was a dealbreaker for me but perhaps that's just how mangalitsa pork tastes like? It didn't seem to bother the rest. 1/5

We ended the savoury section with a pot of cheesy Seafood Rappokki (S$22). Mozzarella covered the ramyeon and we mixed the mussels, squid, shrimp, clams and toppokki together. For shellfish lovers you will love it because the taste of the seafood fully infused into the noodles amidst cheesy goodness. For me, not so much since I don't enjoy shellfish. So my score is indeed subjective. 2/5

On to the new desserts, which you will not find on the old menu. The chefs were really sweet and came out to talk to us about the 3 desserts we were trying. They were the result of some experimentation, combining previous Western dessert experience with Korean flavours. Even though they were interesting, to be honest the ideas were probably better than the taste for my spoilt tastebuds that prefers more traditional desserts.

First, the Yucha Ricotta Cannoli (S$14) was stuffed with a slightly citrusy cheese filling. Crispy cannoli was yum, but interior was slightly confusing. This was the best among the 3, in my opinion. Oops! 3/5

Then there was the Chocopop Gateau (S$15), which had some magic dust that pops in your mouth when you eat it. Apparently the crumble was made with bacon fat, which explains the slight greasy-fat taste. Again, I would have preferred it as a plain biscuit crumble even though I know that chocolate and bacon is a good pairing. The chocolate mousse itself was light. 2.5/5

Last, the Doenjang Crème Brulee (S$12). The first word is 'fermented bean paste'. In creme brulee. Let that sink in for a while. OK? Yup. It is a slightly salty, but not that strong. Still, the first reaction when tasting it was, something is not right... 2.5/5

This is one of those places which I would go back again to meet up with friends, especially visiting friends from overseas who might want to try something Asian without it being local. In fact I have already returned once since the tasting session. Comfortable atmosphere and delicious food/drinks makes it worth our while! Just don't order dessert and have more makgeolli instead.

Joo Bar
5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094
+65 81381628
Daily from 12–2:30PM, 5:30PM–12AM

Thanks to Joo Bar for the invite!

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