Jun’s: A Gastronomical Fanfare

The newly launched brand in Dubai under the wings of Chef Kelvin Cheung boasts of tasty, trendy, unique and no-flair experience

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Rhonita Patnaik

Published: Mon 22 Aug 2022, 11:48 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 1:07 PM

The Boulevard in Downtown Dubai is no ordinary address. Flaunty and exquisite in appearance, some of the city’s best restaurants are perched on its walkway. When I heard of Jun’s opening earlier this month there, I was intrigued to have a look-see at the menu. Described as Asian and North American in its profile, would it be any different from the dishes we see in this gastronomical capital of the world?

We landed at the restaurant a little later than expected and were glad because the buzz began then with people arriving for dinner and the DJ playing on the background. The first thing that I noticed was the noir interior – bold and classy. High brown and black polished ceilings with wood, marble and white brick walls interiors resonate a very chic effect, and soft yellow lamp pendants suspending from the ceilings play a very effective role in creating a vibrant décor.

The restaurant is divided into two seating areas; one that has open tables, and the other part is for big gatherings and more private in nature. In between these two areas is the open kitchen and a small chef’s table nestled next to it on a higher area for an interactive private experience with the chef.

We were seated in the open area and were soon greeted by Head Chef Kelvin Cheung. We chatted for a while about Jun’s opening in Dubai. ‘It’s been just two months,’ he quips. And it was amazing to see the crowd flowing in in just this time since opening.

Award-winning chef Cheung is a renowned name in Canada, Chicago and India (where he spent a decade in Mumbai), and I believe I heard Vietnam too. He described that each dish in the curated menu was his journey from places he lived in and the experience he had since childhood. Without much ado, he started to personally bring dishes to the table. And it wasn’t just us. Chef Cheung was doing the same with each table at the restaurant. Personalisation is the key and everyone at Jun’s understands this.

‘Scallop and Corn’ is an entrée and the first dish of the day. Made with Hokkaido scallop, corn puree, yuzu kosho and crispy rice, the warm starter was influenced by the concept of peaches and cream. Crispy, creamy and flavourful.

For the next dish, Chef Cheung leveraged on the influence Mexican food had during his college days. This dish at Jun’s is called ‘Salmon Tartar’. Served with charred avocado, agua de chile, sesame and salmon on nori crackers, its crackling to say the least. Very zesty and fresh, and perfectly complements a summer evening.

Chef Cheung is North American, but his ancestry is Chinese. And there is a defining Asian influence in most of his dishes. With the ‘Rainbow Heirloom Carrots’, he tells us how the dish is influenced by cream cheese and bagels and discovered by his mum in Canada and what he ate for most part of his life. This dish is a healthy alternative to that. The bagels have been replaced with carrots, and the cheese with labneh and walnut spread. Served on toasted bread and you get a winner.

There are cute little side dishes that you can likely miss out because you may want to try more ‘exotic’ food, but I definitely suggest the bread and hot honey butter combo. It’s a plate of Vietnamese Banh Mi filled with fermented garlic and served with hot honey chilli butter. This is my version of ‘no one can eat just one’.

Chef Cheung spent 10 years in Mumbai. Like every other place, Mumbai left a huge mark on him. The dishes at Jun’s are unique in ingredients but the chef has managed to keep the concept very original. With ‘Sabudana Vada’ that has salmon roe and ‘Tempura Zaa’tar Chaat’ that has been tweaked to introduce Zaa’tar and avocado creme, what you get is the memories of the street food in India and not an alien taste. This is creativity in concept.

For the Mains, we were served ‘Chilli Butter Garlic Jumbo Prawn’ and ‘Grilled Oysters’. The freshness of both these dishes cannot be undermined. Rarely would you come across dishes that you can taste visually first and hope they meet your expectations. Here your mind and mouth are in sync. Kudos.

As soon as we thought that it’s over, we were introduced to desserts. I love a story with a sweet ending. Every dish we gorged on has a background, a creative structure, a memory in the making. But it’s impossible to even think how one small incident can jumpstart a culinary journey. Case in point: The Boba Crème Brulee. Passionate about food, Chef Cheung started a small boba tea venture while in college. But it was shut down in four months. It saddened him but that was the beginning of creating a unique dish. The sweet dish was filled with boba bubbles but all you could taste was crème brulee.

The second platter was a mango panacotta wrapped in mango leather with a spread of coconut sago and coconut crumble. The fusion of Italian and Asian pays a refreshing homage to both cuisines. The taste is buttery and creamier than sweet. And in a good way.

We also tried the decadent texture of chocolate. There is a lot going on here. This gastronomical work of art has different kinds of chocolates in the forms of ice cream, mousse, pudding, soil, rocks… A good ending.

But this is not all. The swanky ambience, excellent service, healthy and tasty food, great options for vegans and vegetarians makes Jun’s a definite place to try out. Chef Kelvin Cheung firmly believes in preserving nature’s bounty for future generations and is committed to sustainable seafood and seasonal products.

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