Joo Bar at Tan Quee Lan Street (Bugis)


This means "cheers" in Korean and truth to be told, it's one of those words that I rarely get to say as I don't really go drinking very often. Perhaps "맛있는", which means "delicious", would definitely be one that I'd say on a daily basis. For some reason though, when I received an invite to visit Joo Bar for dinner (and drinks), I was really excited to go check it out.

First of all, I've never been to a Korean bar not unless you'd consider those in Myeongdong that serves Korean Fried Chicken and beer then yes, I love going to those! Secondly, together with the drinks I'm pretty sure the food will be interesting to try too. Thirdly, it's just in Bugis which is one of my favorite shopping and eating districts in Singapore.

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However, finding the restaurant can be quite a challenge. My tip is to take the road across Bugis Junction and walk all the way towards Marrison Hotel. Before reaching the corner, keep a look out for the entrance that looks like the photo above. Once you've seen it, that means that you have found Joo Bar. Hooray!

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Before starting our meal, we were given the Makgeolli Sampler (S$35) which consists of 5 different flavors namely: original, yucha, passionfruit, blood orange and lychee. Makgeolli is actually a Korean rice wine with a sweet flavor. I wasn't able to try this but my dining companions each had their own favorites. Paul, in particular, enjoyed the lychee flavor which wasn't very surprisingly as he loves the sweet, fruity type.

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To start filling our tummies, we had the Sizzling Mushroom Trio (S$15). This is a definitely a must-try and is one of the dishes that I enjoyed so much at Joo Bar. A good accompaniment to the drinks, I have to say, but it can definitely be eaten alone too. It's a delicious sizzling dish made out of 3 types of mushrooms -- king oyster mushrooms, shiitake and enoki all cooked with garlic and butter making it oh so delish!

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Next, we had the Honey Butter Chicken  (S$18) that's good to be shared. Tender, deep-fried chicken fillet coated in sweet honey butter glazed and served with rice cake (tteokbokki) and nuts. It was just a-okay as I felt the tteokbokki was a bit on the dry and tough side and I would have loved the flavor of the honey butter to be more prominent.

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If there's one thing that every diner at Joo Bar cannot miss is the Roasted Mangalista Belly (S$32). A premium dish of thick cuts of Mangalista pork belly served with spring onion salad and dijon mustard. While one order comes with 7-8 thick slices, it's just so good that I recommend to keep this all for yourself or at least just share it with another friend. Have more and you'll be fighting over the last piece of pork belly, believe me.

All these three went very well with the drinks served that evening. I also want to give props to the creativity of the chef as well as the bartender all our food and drink orders were all so well plated and beautifully presented.

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Take the Yucha Sojurita (S$28) for example. This drink will sure turn heads not only by its size but with that big bottle of Hite beer stuck upside down into the frozen soju-Cointreau-lemon juice mix allowing the beer to slowly flow out thus not leaving your drink with just crushed ice at the end.

While Joo Bar is the perfect place to go after a long day at work or during the weekends, did you know that they also got some interesting lunch options too? At this point, I was wishing that my office is in Bugis for me to be able to head over there whenever the craving arises. Well, 3 train stations away ain't so bad.

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Joo Bar has their DIY Bibimbap menu for lunch where customers can customized their bibimbap bowls for only S$10.90. That is such a good deal! Basically, all they have to do is to choose 1 carbohydrate (white rice or purple rice), protein such as spicy chicken, beef bugogi or stir-fried pork. After which, they pick 3 complements which is a mix of veggies (they got kimchi!) and the last step is to choose the sauce.

It's similar to the lunch salad bowls in the CBD area but this time you're having it with rice so this is definitely very filling. My favorite was the one with spam, tofu, lettuce, kimchi, beef bulgogi, beansprouts and white rice. It's interesting to have an egg on top of the bibimbap very similar to the traditional Korean type.

Joo Bar is a great place to hang out with friends be it for any celebration or to just relax and unwind after a busy day. Be sure to make a reservation and make sure that you get to have your table the entire evening to ensure that you won't be asked to leave for more incoming groups of guests. Sadly, that happened to us so instead of wanting to order more 'bar bites', we had to continue our night cap elsewhere.

*photos by Paul Ang

Visit Joo Bar at 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094. Call them at 8138-1628.

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