JUA: The Izakaya Bangkok Never Knew It Needed
Back in 2012, Charoenkrung Road was far from the trendy art district it is now. But due to more and more creative entreprenuers settling into the area in only the last couple of years, Charoenkrung has quickly become the hot spot for art and food in this city, and JUA is one of the reasons why.
A joint venture between Chet Adkins—previously the executive chef behind Ku De Ta’s (now Ce La Vie) wonderful grub—and published photographer Jason Lang, Jua offers refined Japanese style bar food in a laid-back, artsy atmosphere that is signature of this riverside neighbourhood.
In terms of decor, Jua's two-storey shophouse at the end of Charoenkrung Soi 28 charms with modern minimalist interiors and a few statement pieces. Enclosed in rustic metal-rimmed glass doors is a brightly lit bar, showcasing JUA's impressive collection of sake. The white walls behind the smooth terrazzo counter top are accented with large prints of Jason's photography—regularly refreshed to give returning customers a new mini exhibition everytime. Stairs lead up to more seating, as well as a private room. The entire upper floor can also be booked for private parties and special occasions.
Simplicity extends to the menu, but quality is far from compromised. Expect a selection of delightful skewers—kushiyaki—and other small flavourful bits that nicely complement the extensive selection of sake or beer. If you love eggplant, begin your journey into innovative Nippon bar-grub with the Japanese eggplant appetizer, which has eggplant soaked overnight in tempura sauce, topped with ginger, bonito flakes and fermented fish.
The asparagus wrapped with bacon skewer is another memorable starter at JUA. The thickly sliced bacon—hand-sliced by the chef—is juicy and well grilled, nicely offsetting the crunchy asparagus within. While seemingly minimal, the bacon takes a week to prepare and the final combination is divine.
Another option on the starters is JUA's take on the popular Poke. A smooth mix of raw yellowfin tuna, scallions and seaweed topped with soy and sesame oil, expect Jua’s rendition to be more flavourful than the typical poke, as a means of better complementing the alcoholic aperitifs. For meatlovers, the grilled chicken meatball with sweet soy kushiyaki is a must for it showcases JUA's passion for perfecting the textures of meat and complementing flavours.
For mains, JUA's signature Orecchiette pasta is a creamy blend of flavours with gourmet ingredients freshly imported from Japan. The ear-shaped pasta nicely cups in all the flavours—ikura, uni, wasabi, butter and nori—after you have mixed all the ingredients, so that no bite misses out on taste.
Clearly out to be out-of-the-box, another JUA seasonal signature is the banana prawn with durian butter. The butter is inspired by Malaysia’s tempoyak, or fermented durian. Chef Chet prepares his durian butter by fermenting local durian with salt at a specific temperature for a week and then mixing it with butter for a smooth and creamy texture before finally topping off with some chopped basil. The result is an interesting Southeast Asian miso-like taste that has just the right hint of the infamously pungent fruit without being overpowering.
Driven by creativity, JUA's food offerings revolve around seasonal ingredients. We highly recommend striking up a conversation with the chef before you order to get hints on the highlights, which may or may not be on the menu.
672/49 Charoenkrung Soi 28