This past weekend, Adam and I really fancied some good Korean food. The first place that popped into our minds was Joha, a cozy, home-style Korean restaurant located in the pleasant neighborhood of Ari, not far from where we live. We ate there only once before back in September 2016, and remembered how impressed we were with the food. This time, we went there for dinner around 6pm on Saturday, fingers crossed that once we arrive, there would still be a free table available for us. Joha is quite a compact restaurant that can only serve up to around 15-20 diners, plus they don’t take reservations. So if you want to go there for dinner and get one of their best tables, make sure to arrive no later than 6pm or chances are you will have to wait in the queue up to an hour!
Luckily, when we got to Joha, the best tables (the ones next to the windows, in my opinion) were still available. But within 10 minutes of us sitting, all the tables in the restaurant were full! To be honest, I thought the buzz of this restaurant has probably died down, given that it was opened since mid 2016 last year. But nope, its popularity is still going strong.
For drinks, we ordered Shikhye (60 Baht), a traditional sweet Korean rice beverage. The drink also contained grains of cooked rice, while the flavor had a unique sweet (very mild) taste. The soft, melt in your mouth rice floating in the drink was also a nice touch. The mild, sweet taste of the shikhye also really helped cleanse our palate after eating strong flavors of the meaty dishes. As for other drink choices, Joha also serves Soju (Soju bomb, Soju shot, Hongcho Soju shot, Yogurt Soju, and Melona Soju), beers (Chang and Singha), soft drinks, and Hongcho – Pomegranate-flavored rice vinegar.
For starters, we ordered Mandu (120 Baht), or Korean dumplings. You can choose to either have it boiled or fried. The boiled ones we had were so flavorful and juicy (if I’m not mistaken, I think the meat inside was pork with maybe a mix of vegetables), plus the sesame dipping sauce was just spot on.
Another starter dish we ordered was Japchae (150 Baht), made from stir fried glass noodles with pork and vegetables in a soy sauce seasoning. The glass noodles were chewy (in a good way), while the overall taste of the pork and the sauce was a perfect combination of savory and sweet flavors. It sure left me wanting more!
This was Adam’s main dish, Dwaegi Bulgogi (200 Baht), or stir-fried marinated pork.
As for my main dish, I ordered Kimchi Bokkeumbap with cheese (250 Baht), one of Joha’s must-try dishes. It’s basically a spicy fried rice dish with chopped kimchi and bacon, served with egg and cheese on the hot pan. I seriously cannot get enough of this dish. I love the deep, rich taste of the well-fermented kimchi, as well as the perfect combination of the spicy, savory, and slight hint of sweet flavors. I read that this dish is usually served with a fried egg on top, but by choosing to serve it with melted cheese around the hot pan instead, Joha just basically takes this classic comfort food to another level. And just look at that chunky piece of bacon at the top! *Drools*
No Korean meal is complete without Kimchi!
Despite having only two chefs (two brothers from Busan – head chef Kay Cho and younger brother, Junhee), you’ll be impressed with how fast the food get send out here. To be honest, I can’t really find any fault with this restaurant. Okay, perhaps the place is quite small and compact, having only six tables to serve the customers, but the hip, industrial glass box eatery really fits in with Ari’s youth-driven culture and cool atmosphere (the long queues of people outside were mostly young couples and groups who didn’t seem to mind waiting at all). As for the food, I am definitely not the expert when it comes to Korean cuisine, but all I can say is that every dish was delicious and rich in flavor, the ingredients used were fresh and good quality, and that the food here is made with care. Whenever you feel like having an appetite for tasty, mouthwatering Korean classics, don’t forget to stop by Joha in Ari’s friendly neighborhood!
Location: Soi Ari 2, Phaholyothin Road, Samsennai Sub-District, Phayathai District, Bangkok (BTS Ari)
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11:30 am – 21:00 pm