Here’s Why Korean Food Is The Hottest Cuisine Right Now

Judy Joo's Tips For Trying Korean Food

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by Lucy Dunn |
Published on

Korean cuisine has certainly been brewing in London over the last year, says writer Emily Steer, with Korean fried chicken joints popping up, Korean BBQ gaining a renewed popularity, and kimchi burritos actually becoming a thing.

Now Korean food’s about to get high profile, as American chef and TV personality, Judy Joo brings her first restaurant to London, in the shape of Korean street food inspired, Jinjuu. She has every faith it will take off and be embraced by us Londoners, and let’s face it, we have a bit of a habit of enjoying every cuisine other than our own. Judy thinks “especially with the tradition of spice through Indian food, Korean cuisine will be embraced just like curry has been here. Curry is practically the national dish!”. A mix of potent flavours, it’s the kind of cuisine that’s daunting for a first timer, but pretty addictive after your first taste. Kimchi is probably the most well known Korean export, bright red pickled cabbage that’s often hot, sweet, sour and salty all at once. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and you’ll get you hooked pretty quickly. Joo hosted a pop up in Fortnum’s last October which should give a pretty good taste of what’s to come; with braised wagyu shortrib, salted caramel Korean sweet pancakes and her take on Korean fried chicken. Let’s also not forget Korean drink of choice, Soju, a vodka like rice liquor, that many Korean’s drink more like a beer than a spirit. No Korean meal is complete without it, and it gets you the best kind of drunk - energetic and giggly.

Jinjuu
Jinjuu

Joo’s working life is nothing short of outstanding. She took a non traditional route into restaurants, taking a Science degree at Columbia University before starting her working life as a rare female presence on Wall Street. She’s previously compared the tough slog and testosterone dominated workplaces on Wall Street to Michelin Star kitchens, having worked her way up the restaurant trade via Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck - and most surprisingly a stint as head chef at Playboy Club London. She says it’s “rare to find women heading up the brigade. Women represent only about 6.3% of all head chef positions. I would love to see more of us. It is a tiring and demanding environment. You really have to be a strong leader”. She admits that setting up a restaurant is throughly tough, with little sleep and huge amounts of stress in finding a “rock solid team” to work with. The biggest challenge she thinks is “trying to stay on top of everything. There is so much to do and manage. There are not enough hours in the day”. Nevertheless she’s proud of the outcome and has found a brilliant team with “passion and integrity”. This promises to be a huge boost for Korean food, and an exciting new fixture in London’s Soho.

Jinjuu officially opens on Tuesday 13th January, 15 Kingly Street London W1B 5PS

Jinjuu

For you Korean cuisine virgins out there, Judy has shared her top ten tips for popping your kimchi cherry, and riding the fast growing wave of the London-Korean food revolution...

Go with a group of friends - Korean food is meant to be shared.

Order a wide variety of dishes - so you can sample a number of different things (another reason to go with a group).

Go in with an open mind - you have to be willing to try things that you have never had before. Be bold.

Drink like a local - Most food goes best with what is indigenous to the country. Try the soju, beer and other authentic drinks.

It is all about the stuff on the side - Korean food has a lot of side sauces and dishes. Try them all.

Mix it up and make each bite different - A lot of Korean food is DIY and layering different flavours and elements together. Try the different sauces, kimchi (all the types), mix them up in a leaf, and create your own bespoke meal the way you like it.

Don't be afraid of the chillies - Just because something is bright red, doesn't necessarily mean that it will blow your head off.

Have fun with the metal chopsticks - Koreans use metal chopsticks. Practice makes perfect.

Don't worry too much about eating things in the right way or order - Just relax and enjoy. You cannot make a mistake. There is always an ice cold glass of beer of soju to wash it down to cool you off if things get too hot.

Be prepared - to drink and eat a lot... and enjoy! Korean meals are always fun.

Follow Emily Steer on Twitter @EmilySteerAW

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