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JUN'S | North American Asian Cuisine By Chef Kelvin Cheung

Chef Kelvin Cheung has officially made his debut in the UAE with the newly opened Jun’s restaurant. Having made his celebrity mark over the years from the US, Canada, Belgium and most recently, India, he has a prominent online following through sharing his travels, cooking experiments, and personable family life. Now located in Downtown Dubai on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, this modern fine dining establishment bares class with bold colours and raw materials with its green marble floor, copper and wood accents, and stylish leather seating with an 80s/90s feel to them. The evening gives off a warm lounge ambiance with the restaurant an open plan extension to the bar area.

JUN'S in Downtown Dubai on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard.
JUN'S interior
JUN'S table setting

It was great to see Kelvin Cheung serving and interacting with his guests, fashioning the ‘ghetto leg’ style trend from the 90s. He’s as charming in person, as he is on social media.

You immediately notice that his menu has an equal choice of vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, seafood, and meat choices to please everyone, which there is a serious lack of amongst the overall UAE restaurant scene, so this is refreshing to see with so many adversaries in today’s food world.

JUN'S menu

Under the Cold Littles we chose to start with the compressed Watermelon Tartare – we love to see how chefs work with compressed watermelon, it is such a versatile ingredient when done right. This version came with a layer of a gluten free nori cracker, charred avocado, chili and sesame which was not the most creative in the combination of flavours, but it was a refreshing starter and had a good kick to it amongst the citrus. I would have asked the waiter to refrain from mashing it all up had he prewarned us that he was going to do it. The cracker at least should have remained intact so we could scoop up all the layers with it, which was now mush.

We also ordered the Wagyu Striploin Beef Tartare, as I’m sold whenever I see bone marrow on a menu. This tartare comes with kimchi and a selection of other ingredients, a 63-degree egg yolk, and served with Szechuan bone marrow on the side, fried chicharron (beef in this case) crackers, and toasted sourdough to scoop it all up. There were a little too many flavours in this mix, minus the all-important seasoning. Not sure what all the other ingredients were, but it would have been perfect just being the meat, the bone marrow and the egg yolk (salt required) to not overwhelm the viands as happened here.

In the Hot Littles, we chose the crispy Kpop Wings. These chunky wings with ramen seasoning, sesame and scallions seemed more chicken breast in texture and taste than the succulent dark meat of wings and thighs, and I therefore wasn’t a fan. However, the ramen flavour was good and if you love wings, these will be a winner.

JUN'S crispy Kpop Wings

In the Not so Littles (mains), I opted for the Whole Crispy Organic Sea Bream, filleted right at the table for you, with pounded turmeric, garlic, fresh herbs and sweet and sour sauce served on the side. The fish was tasty (overpriced at AED221 for what it was), and I was happy to have ordered the Teriyaki Broccoli and Sweet Potato to accompany it from the Grill section.

JUN'S whole Crispy Organic Sea Bream
JUN'S Teriyaki Broccoli
JUN'S Sweet Potato

The Japanese Wagyu A5 Ribeye with bulgogi glaze, burnt garlic rice, house fermented kimchi, herb salad and lettuce leaves was the most disappointing choice made and not at all worth the AED551 price tag. Despite the Ribeye being cooked rare as requested, it had not been seasoned (seasoning meat is a serious miss here). The unique take on this dish was to eat it in a lettuce wrap – PF Chang style. Mixing everything together in the lettuce wrap as intended was overly complicated and fiddly, and completely overwhelmed any flavour from the meat. This dish just felt like a great way to waste an expensive steak!

JUN'S Japanese Wagyu A5 Ribeye with bulgogi glaze, burnt garlic rice, house fermented kimchi, herb salad and lettuce leaves.

It wasn’t a full house when we went, but there was a surplus of serving staff that hovered amidst the diners who have clearly been instructed to converse often with their waiting tables to ask how they like their food – often at the least opportune moments whilst in midst of mouthfuls, which got old really quickly.

The DJ bopping in his booth seemed completely out of place amongst the classier décor and too loud for a meal with conversation within the principles of a fine dining experience. I’m not at all into having to raise my voice across the table to hear or be heard over a nice meal out. That is after all, what clubs are for. And the overly strong sweet scented air freshener that periodically wafts through the air interferes with the flavours of your food. The different dishes making their way through the room should be the only ambient aromas needed in a restaurant.

The highlight of the evening was ordering the Boba Crème Brulée. It was out of this world, fantastic! It had a ginger scented custard that was perfectly executed with coconut tapioca boba that really made this beautiful cream stand out between the silky and gummy textures. I loved everything about this dessert – I will come back for it!

JUN'S Boba Crème Brulée
Breaking into JUN'S Boba Crème Brulée

A wine list does not yet exist, but with the only two reds offered – our waiter was clearly not a sommelier (a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon), as was expected – it’s expensive at AED98/glass. Our evening was AED577 per person without the drinks, which was too expensive for what we ate, and it would have been a lot more if we’d gone with our other choices. There are better dining experiences out there for far less. We did enjoy the experience, the location is convenient for those living in and around Downtown, but it gets dearer for those living at the other end of town. Although the venue is beautiful, you’re not likely to stay on for drinks at the prices given, and the food needs to be memorable enough to return.

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