Sydney’s Kings Cross is famed for many things, one of those being the massive Coca-Cola sign located where William Street meets Darlinghurst Road. Just around the corner from this famous sign, along Bayswater Road, is where you will find the entrance to Ju Ju. Down a set of stairs friendly staff greet customers before smilingly handing over plastic bags to each patron. Why? Because it’s a strict no-shoes policy at Ju Ju, but at least they’re nice enough to provide you means to house your footwear whilst you dine. (Note: Plan ahead and be kind to your fellow diners by avoiding hole-y socks and funky foot odour!)
The reason behind the shoe-ban is due to the entirely floorboarded interior with 'hole-in-the-ground' seating. It is a bit of a novelty however seat cushions are provided. A few tables are contained within each fenced area and I always get the strange sensation of sitting in a farm pen when I dine at Ju Ju! The fences serve as a place for each table’s order to hang from a small clipboard.
Monsieur Poisson and I are being taken out for a combined birthday dinner by Weirdo and Ms Selective (thanks again, guys!) and decide on Ju Ju as it’s another one of those Japanese places that I expect Monsieur Poisson to have visited, but strangely hasn’t. He is excited to discover on the menu glass-bottled, bottle-capped Coke though. To essentially a non-cola drinker like myself, I don’t quite understand the fuss but he asserts that it is mildly sweeter, less gassy and overall better-tasting than canned or plastic-bottled Coke. Weirdo indulges his love of sake by ordering a serve that comes warmed, while I’m disappointed that I can’t order a chuhai due to being on medication for the tail end of a head cold.
We order a few crowd-pleasers to share: crispy-bottomed yaki gyoza, okonomiyaki and Ms Selective’s favourite agedashi tofu. There is only one variant of okonomiyaki on the menu, which contains a mixture of various things and comes topped with a couple of fried eggs. It’s nice but I have yet to try an okonomiyaki that pips those at Ju Ge Mu & Shimbashi. The tofu has a light and crispy coating and comes with shiitake mushroom slices but no bonito flakes to dance around in the emanating heat.
Next up is a serve of Ju Ju’s ‘Tempura Mix’ consisting of prawns and a selection of vegetables. The batter is a little heavier than I’d like but at least it has a satisfying crunch and is not overfried.
To round off the meal, we have ordered a sukiyaki for two to be shared between the four of us. Thinly cut ‘steaks’ of beef are brought out on a plate, along with a platter of tofu, vegetables, the requisite eggs and a gas burner. The young waiter starts the cooking off for us by pouring a small jug of sweet soy into the shallow pan, leaving us to cook the components in this liquid as we please. As this is a little different to the sukiyaki procedure to which I am accustomed, a bit of post-meal research tells me that this is the eastern Japanese style of sukiyaki whereas I am far more familiar with the western Japanese style of frying the beef first in the pan with a little fat before pouring over the sweet soy. In either case, it’s sticky, sweet and warming.
I have heard that Ju Ju has karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights but, without knowing what time it starts, I’ve never been present to witness the exhibition or to partake in the fun. And, um, I’m not about to either!
Shop 301, Kings Cross Centre, 82-94 Darlinghurst Rd (entrance on Bayswater Rd), Kings Cross NSW
Tel: (02) 9357 7100
Opening Hours: Mon CLOSED
Fri & Sat 6:30pm-1am