Sake and bar grub? This pairing at JUA is bound to delight you with an explosion of wickedly delicious flavours.

Right by 80/20 and Speedy Grandma Art Gallery, JUA is a restaurant with izakaya (Japanese bar) vibes serving unpretentious Japanese and Korean-accented delicacies in tapas-style with great booze, from artisanal sake and small-batch spirits to handcrafted cocktails. With Chef Chet Adkins at the wheel, the restaurant is turning his obsession with kushiyaki (meat and vegetable skewers grilled over charcoal) into culinary sensation.

The man truly transforms simple ingredients into something of sophistication; think a dish dedicated entirely to baby corn and eggplant. Recently, we got a chance to check out JUA, and tried some of the best dishes the outlet has to offer. Here’s a list of must-tries you need to order.

Meatball (THB 100)

The meatball at JUA is a surprise on a stick. Although it is made to be in the liking of Japanese chicken meatball tsukune, the taste of the ball-shaped ground meat here is actually reminiscent of a Thai-style sausage that’s got a nice tanginess to it. Made from chicken, the meatball is glazed with sweet soy and is grilled until the meat is cooked to perfection. The caramelised skin then gets coated in a confetti rain of salted egg yolk, which infuses the dish with a wonderful, fatty saltiness.

Pork Belly (THB 120)

Here, pork belly is kissed with fermented Korean chilli paste, or gochujang, which blesses this fatty cut of pork with its unique savoury-sweet smack. Once bejewelled with a bundle of shaved leek, this dish has an unexpected garlicky taste that will surely excite your palate.

Eggplant (200)

You know someone is a good chef when he or she can transform a simple ingredient like eggplant into a thing of elegance. Soaked overnight in sweet-tangy tempura sauce, the eggplant is infused with robust flavours. Once met with a dollop of grated ginger and shredded bonito flakes, the dish’s delectability totally speaks for Chef Adkins’ culinary expertise.

Baby Corn (THB 70)

Let’s face it: baby corn is probably the only kind of corn out there that many people loathe, considering its earthy flavour that stands between sweet and bland. However, this version created by JUA turns the unwanted veggie into a true showstopper. Much like what black pepper is to American dining tables, the Japanese staple spice blend, togarashi, is a key to deliciousness in this dish. Once the baby corn is grilled, it gets some love from a pungent garlic butter and a generous dusting of togarashi. Foodies who love spiciness, this one is for you.

Poke (THB 280)

Hawaiian-style poke bowls have been making more and more appearances in the city’s food market. But the one that truly hits our taste buds lives here at JUA. The chef uses yellowfin tuna which has a mild taste yet firm texture that goes beautifully with the creamy sriracha sauce and tobiko, adding extra bright flavour and creating that pop-in-your-mouth effect we all love.

Clams (THB 300)

Clam is pretty much already tasty when it swims in the ocean salt water. But something tells us the clams would rather swim in this bowl once they taste JUA’s miso-garlic broth. With a sprinkling of fresh parsley, the bowl of clams served with milk toast is a perfectly complete meal on its own, too.

JUA, 672/49 Charoen Krung 28, Bangkok, +662 103 6598; Open Mon-Sun, 6 pm-12 am.

Kankanit Wichiantanon
Writer, Bangkok
Kankanit is a writer by day and a baker by night. If there’s one thing you should know about her, it’s that she can wax poetic about food 24/7. Her daily routine is writing, cooking, eating, repeat. They are the things that inspire her from morning 'til night.