Juju Asian Tapas

Sleek, stylish without being overdone and laid back like most Durham joints, Juju is new on the Durham restaurant scene and doesn’t disappoint. The food is divine, the service fantastic and currently they have my favorite beer, Great Divide “Colette” Farmhouse Ale on tap. That alone will make me become a fixture there.

If you remember George’s Garage you’ll be blown away by the transformation. IMG_0989 The space is well-lit yet still warm with bar stools that oh my God, are actually comfortable. I’m a fan of sitting at the bar so this is a make-or-break thing for me. IMG_0990 The well-stocked bar features a great wine selection, beer, perfect cocktails and an ample selection of sake. There is also a sake tasting flight.

The food is tapas, which okay I’ll forgive them for calling their Asian small plates tapas, but these aren’t standard teeny, you’ve got to be kidding me that’s all I get for the price tapas. I’ll be honest, I hate tapas. I want a meal or at least give me 4 of each item. You know the deal. You and a friend go out for tapas and every thing that comes out is in 3s forcing you to order 2 of each. Juju got it right! 2 can easily go for tapas and you each get an equal amount of food. They heard my pet peeve and responded. Love you Juju. These are the phenomenal dishes I’ve sampled so far:

Braised Beef Short Rib & Goat Cheese Wonton with Pepper Basil Jam These were amazing! You’re going to see that word a lot because everything I had was AH-MAZING! The wontons were stuffed with seasoned tender beef, tangy goat cheese and a pepper basil jam they should consider selling. Next up were the dumplings. These were fairly standard and one of the least daring combinations I had. On another night I had the Pan-Fried Duck & Chive Dumplings. A fantastic combination of flavors and my favorite of the 2. Do you see? There are 4 of them. Happy Girl! The Mongolian Pork Ribs were a thing of beauty. Mongolian Short Ribs Tender. Ridiculously tender, meaty ribs slathered in a sticky, smoky sauce. Delicious. Seriously.

Everything I’ve had at Juju has been oh so good but if I could eat only one thing on their menu hands down it would be the Wild Boar Banh Mi. IMG_0998 This was phenomenal. First, the baguette. It was absolutely perfect balancing crusty and soft in a way few baguettes manage to pull off. I was told they are locally made in Chapel Hill. The pickles were only lightly pickled so they lent a nice crunch to the sandwich and a nice contrast to the richness of the meat without the tangy-briny taste some pickles carry. The meat. I do not know what they marinate it in but OH MY GOD!! This was good! Really good! My boyfriend had to act fast before I swooped in and ate his too. They change their menu regularly. Juju, I beg you, don’t ever stop serving this banh mi.

I figured after all my meat heavy choices it was time to introduce some vegetables and the Kung Pao Vegetables did not disappoint. The vegetables were lightly sauced and cooked perfectly. The sauce was not very spicy but then again I love heat but it was flavorful and rich.Kung Pao Vegetables

Both times I’ve been the food and service have been consistent. My other gripe about tapas is they’re generally expensive but at Juju you actually get portions that feed 2 and the prices are affordable. No, really, here’s the current menu: http://www.jujudurham.com/dinner/ Did you see my favorite beer is only $3.50? Juju also offers a nice selection of vegetarian options. Thank you Charlie Deal for coming to Durham.

Juju, 737 Ninth Street. Open 5-11 Monday through Saturday.

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