Restaurant review: Juhu Beach Club, SoHo – Indian-Californian cuisine a mixed bag
Hong Kong branch of San Francisco Bay Area restaurant offers fresh take on Indian dishes, including a meatless sloppy Joe that makes a case for why this may be the king of vegetarian cuisines
Price: about HK$210 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: quiet on a cold weekday evening; there was only one other group of diners.
Pros: service was friendly and attentive, even before I was recognised towards the end of the meal, after all our dishes had been served. I requested hot water and it was served in a double-wall insulated glass, which was a nice touch. The menu is brief – just a few offerings in each category of daily specials, starters, mains and JBC pavs (small sandwiches). The flavours are light and fresh.
Cons: Chowpatty chicken pav (HK$58) featured chicken breast that was overcooked, dry and underseasoned. The chicken wings (HK$88) suffered from the same overcooking, and they too, were dry. Chilli paneer (HK$108) was a light, stir-fried version of a dish that is more often more stew-y. The brief cooking time didn’t allow the cheese to soak up the taste of the other ingredients, which included tomatoes and peppers. We had mixed feelings about the Manchurian cauliflower (HK$108). The Indian-Chinese fav tasted just sweet-and-sour, and once we got our head around the unexpected but familiar flavour, we enjoyed it. But the batter was too thick in proportion to the amount of cauliflower, which was overcooked.
Recommended dishes: Brussels sprouts nest (HK$98) was our favourite dish of the night, with nicely charred sprouts, a tangy fenugreek chutney and a delicious coarsely-textured, aromatic sauce. We liked three of the four pavs we tried (HK$58 each). Both the vada pav (fried potato puff, pickled onions and JBC ghost pepper chutney) and “sloppy Lil’P” – a meatless version of the sloppy Joe – gave a hint as to why Indian vegetarian food is arguably the best in the world: with this much flavour, you don’t miss the meat. The pulled pork pav tasted more American South than Indian, with its tangy-sweet sauce that wasn’t at all spicy. As we were quietly commenting on the lack of desserts (none are offered), the staff surprised us with complimentary glasses of masala chai (normally HK$48, with refills). It was the perfect ending to the meal: warming both in temperature and flavours, with its well-balanced blend of spices that included green cardamom, ginger and cloves.
What else? The original Juhu Beach Club is in Oakland, California.
Juhu Beach Club, 28 Elgin Street, SoHo. Tel: 2177 3544. Open: Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday 6pm-10.30pm, Thursday to Saturday 6pm-11.30pm