Sherman's Food Adventures: Jun Yuan

Jun Yuan

This post has been a long time coming.  Literally.  I first visited Jun Yuan when it first opened over a year ago.  We came away pretty impressed for a hole-in-the-wall spot that once was merely a run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurant.  Pricing was reasonable and the food quality was surprisingly high.  So why did I not post on it?  No, it wasn't that my pictures weren't good nor was it being lazy.  Rather, I left the meal with a bad taste in my mouth which had nothing to do with the food.  During the meal, I was having a text argument with Miss Y (yes really) and was too distraught to write about the meal.  Ironically, this return visit was after our softball game which meant Miss Y was in attendance.  We had a good laugh about it since I explained to her why I didn't blog about the place (forgive and forget right?).

So enough of my personal life and onto the food.  We ended up getting half Drunken Chicken & Herbs and half Tofu Soup broth since no one was in the mood for spice.  If there was one thing that they could improve upon is their broth because both times I found them decent but unremarkable.  With that being said, the drunken chicken was chock full of tender strips of wine-soaked breast meat.  The tofu soup was pretty mild and didn't offer up any lasting memories.  What sets Jun Yuan apart from many other hot pot joints is the Wagyu Beef (right plate in the picture) on their AYCE menu.  It is up for debate if it is actually the real thing, but we enjoyed it very much.  The thin and fatty slices of beef were buttery soft and flavourful. Even the "regular" Premium Beef was good albeit not as buttery.  It was still tender and did not come out dry after cooking.

Continuing with more meats, we had the Lamb and Pork.  Well-marbled, the cooked lamb was also tender and buttery.  It was actually not sliced super-thin, but even so, it was not chewy at all.  Due to the lean nature of the pork, it was a touch drier and chewier even with only a quick cook in the boiling hot pot.  Before the actual hot pot arrived and subsequent meats and veggies, we were served a plate of Fried Chicken Wings.  We had barely sat down and they asked us how many wings we wanted.  A bit confused, we went for one each.  I think the reason for this was that they wanted to get this out of the way first so they could shut down the fryer (it was getting late).  The wings turned out to be really good being fried golden brown with fully rendered skin.  They had been brined so the meat was succulent and well-seasoned.  If we didn't have other food coming, we would've ordered more of these.

The next sets of dishes came fast and furious with the fresh Meatballs being the highlight.  Sure, some of the ingredients may have been previously frozen, but the made-to-order shrimp, squid, beef, pork and fish meatballs were on point.  They were all bouncy to a degree with the beef being meatier with a chew.  I especially enjoyed the shrimp meatballs since they had a sweet snap.  With a limit of 2 per person, we maxed out on the Fresh Oysters.  Most of them were humongous and were a meal in itself.  They were briny, buttery and indeed tasted fresh.  Also on deck was cuttlefish, squid and chicken.  One might think that since the homemade Pork Dumplings and Wontons were frozen, they weren't fresh.  For practicality purposes, frozen dumplings cook way better in a hot pot since they do not fall apart or stick together.  These were excellent with sweet bouncy shrimp (even the pork dumpling was mostly shrimp).  Corn, Rice Cake, Tofu, Mountain Yam, Bean Curd Stick, Seaweed and Fish Tofu rounded out this selection. 

Also from the previously-frozen category, we had an order of the White Shrimp.  Hey, we didn't mind as for the price we paid, we weren't expecting spot prawns.  Besides, frozen spot prawns suck.  These were fine as they cooked up to reveal a meaty snap.  Okay, beyond the Udon, Fish Noodles (yes, made with fish mousse), Instant Ramen, Enoki Mushrooms, Spinach and Pea Shoots (yes, they were generous with this one), I had to get some offal.  That I did with Pork Kidney, Pork Liver and Pig Stomach.  Hey, these were good...  for me...  No one else really ate them!  Well, Miss Y did and that was it.  We ended up doing another round of beef and then some dessert.  For the price we paid ($26.99 + share of the soup base), we thought the food quality and selection was good.  Sure, it is much more than it cost a year ago, but it was priced too low.  Sure, Jun Yuan is a non-descript and not very sexy, but the hot pot is solid and reasonably-priced.

The Good:
- Reasonably-priced for what you get
- Their wagyu beef is really good
- Nice people

The Bad:
- Not a purpose-built restaurant for hot pot, smells linger and it gets humid
- Seating can be cramped if you have more than 6 people

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