Juke in Chinatown has been open about 5 weeks. There’s this thing about food blogging/food reviewing that you shouldn’t review a place the first x it’s been open — that “x” could be a week, a month, whatever…that value changes depending on who you talk to. I break that rule all the time. One part of me understands that restaurants always need time to work out the kinks, to smooth out their processes and staffing, settle into their “vision”, what have you. The other part of me feels that I don’t want to be a guinea pig, spend hard-earned cash money, waste my time, or waste a dining opportunity with so much out there to try. So I waited more than a month to try Juke. I think I have a pretty good idea about their food and can judge accordingly. You may like it. You may love it. I didn’t.
Juke, in the black & red building. The fabric of Chinatown is changing quite quickly…swapping silk for some 3D-printed textile.
Juke is part-bar, part-fried chicken joint, where you can dine in or take out.
It’s rare that you can read a restaurant’s menu entirely from the street. To save your eyes, you can read their small, tight menu online.
They’re open 11am until late everyday.
I totally neglected to inspect the bar menu cuz I was 60% day-drunk after running club. This is what they have available at the counter.
Tableside sauces: bbq sauce on the left, honey drizzle on the right.
Surprisingly, the Dirty Fries were more expensive than my chicken. But people seemed to rave about them, so I took the plunge.
Two Piece Chicken ($5.50) with Dirty Fries ($6). The chicken pieces were a drumstick and a thigh. Dark meat all the way!
Let’s talk a bit about their hilarious branding! This design is also plastered all over their washrooms.
Hilarious. I love it when places have a sense of humour.
So who’s gonna dress like the Juke guy for Halloween this year?
Since this place is called “Juke”, I kept on thinking that the music they played was “jukebox” music:
Now for the actual chicken:
All of their chicken is gluten-free. This is an important point because I think it’s the main reason why the coating is the way that it is — thick, crunchy, and a bit tough. Brings to mind the feeling of eating crunchy cardboard or cereal like Fiber One or All-Bran. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you may have no other choice. But for everyone else, gluten-free fried chicken will always be a notch (or few) below regular fried chicken where the coating can be crispy and crunchy, not just a heavy thick crunch like this stuff.
Seasoning of the meat and batter was good though. Early reports from this place said that the meat was bland/underseasoned. This is now no longer the case. The chicken was well-brined and seasoned. Meat somewhat juicy, but I’ve had juicier. One a positive note, the chicken is one of the least greasy fried chickens in recent memory, almost like it was baked instead of fried.
The Dirty Fries ($6) are dressed with cheese sauce, bbq sauce, cilantro, green onions, and pickled onions. The fries are similar to McDonald’s fries in size and shape, but have the skin on. The frying is almost like McDonald’s as well, but not as crisp. If I’m going to eat fries covered in stuff (eg. poutine), I like my fries to be VERY crispy so it stands up to being drowned in sauce yet still retain some crispness. Sadly, this wasn’t the case here and the centre of the pile became limp, wet, and (for me) pointless to eat. I ate all the crisp fries around the edge and left it at that. I found myself wanting more cheese sauce and less bbq sauce too. I longed for the fries with stinky cheese sauce at Bestie a couple blocks away. The combination of the sauces and onions didn’t thrill me. Not sure what everyone else was talking about when they raved about these fries…just goes to show how tastes can diverge…like, a lot.
Honestly, I couldn’t imagine wanting to eat the fried chicken or dirty fries again.