The New Year is upon us and mine is off to a fast and furious start. My “real job” has provided some opportunity to travel and my next trip will likely be to Korea. To ensure I’m prepared, I have already started my “research”. What started as one exploratory trip with friends has turned into an insatiable appetite for Korean food! Let me tell you a little bit about a place in Creve Coeur called Joo Joo.
Joo Joo (Restaurant and Karoake to be exact), is in a corner of a strip mall in Creve Coeur by Olive and Fee Fee. It’s pretty unassuming from the outside and there isn’t much to look at on the inside. The menu can be a little bit daunting for a Korean food virgin, so it’s best to go with friends that can help you order. Better yet, check out some recommendations from awesome bloggers online (hint hint…). Although all the staff are very helpful, some speak better English than others. When ordering, keep in mind you will also receive banchan (side dishes) so you don’t order too much food. In the last month alone, I have been four times. Here are some of my highlights:
I love to start with the dduk pok ki. It’s spicy rice cakes served in a very flavorful sauce with a hard boiled egg. I love to use this sauce to spice up the standard white rice that comes with the other meals.
My first love was the marinated BBQ Kalbi Beef Ribs. You grill these yourself at the table. It includes an egg stew (think watery scrambled eggs with green onion), lettuce, and sauces. If you are concerned about not knowing when to flip the meat or how long to cook each piece, don’t be. The staff is close by watching to ensure that everything is going according to plan, they don’t hesitate to come take over. For me this isn’t overpowering, I appreciate the help! Here’s how to eat it: take some of the freshly cooked beef, slap it in the lettuce leaf, and then add some of the bean paste. You can’t go wrong.
Lately my go-to-dish is the black pork belly. It’s a special they have listed on their wall and I pray this dish does not go away! It’s another “cook your own” dish, but this time it’s on a grill that cooks it on a slope so that the excess grease can drain. If you love fatty pork dishes, this will be your jam. The pork belly is also served with lettuce leaves and bean paste, but I prefer to dip it in the small plate of sesame oil, salt, and pepper they provide. This dish does not help my blood pressure for sure!
Extreme close up to watch it start to sizzle!
If you are an adventurous eater, there is another special dish you should try: the Korean raw beef. As it states, it’s raw beef served with ginger, pear strips, and a raw egg. For fans of tartare, it should be no big deal. You need to like the taste of raw ginger. I found that the ingredients added a little sweetness. The serving is quite large and it’s not a dish you want to take as a leftover so I would only suggest ordering if you have a group of 4 or more.
In case you can’t tell, I definitely have enjoyed my visits to Joo Joo. 🙂 Eating Korean BBQ is a fun experience, and I’m definitely looking forward to trying the hot pots on an upcoming visit. Keep an eye out on Instagram and Twitter to see how they look!
Dive 2 Five Scale: 3. Great family friendly restaurant if you are looking for something different. If you haven’t tried Korean BBQ, this is a great way to experience it in a more relaxed atmosphere. They have private Karaoke rooms that I have not tried…I haven’t crossed that boundary of Soju and Sapporo required for me to think I can sing… yet.