Being the melting pot of cultures that Hong Kong is, these days it’s getting harder to find restaurants that specialise in one specific cuisine, without the influence of a completely different cuisine sneaking in. The latest example is Juhu Beach Club, which offers a modern interpretation of Indian street food with a Californian twist. Sounds bizarre, I know, but bear with me.
Juhu Beach Club started out as a pop-up restaurant in San Francisco, before it became an actual restaurant in the Bay Area. Its popularity over there led owner-chef Preeti Mistry (a former US Top Chef contestant) to expand internationally, with Hong Kong’s Elgin Street marking her first international outlet.
The restaurant is named after Juhu Beach in Mumbai, a trendy hangout that is famous for both its sunsets and its street food. The restaurant’s interior, designed by Candace Campos, therefore reflects Bollywood beach vibes with fun, playful floral prints alongside 60s design elements. The décor in the loos is particularly awesome, and they even have their own Bollywood soundtrack in there!
Most of the menu is actually vegetarian-friendly, made using seasonal, organic ingredients that you might not usually associate with Indian cuisine. The first dish we tried was the Brussels sprouts nest. I had definitely never had Indian-style sprouts before! Tossed with ginger, curry leaf butter and homemade fenugreek pesto, these were possibly the best sprouts I’ve tried and would easily turn any hater into a lover.
Speaking of haters, I used to turn my nose up at cauliflower, thinking it was a poor man’s broccoli that lacked in both flavour and nutrients. These days, however, there’s very little that can’t be done with cauliflower and this versatile vegetable has quickly become a favourite. JBC’s Manchurian Cauliflower was excellent. Granted, being deep-fried and smothered in a sticky sweet and sour sauce, it wasn’t exactly healthy, but there must have been nutrients in there somewhere for it to taste that good!
The Bombay Sandwich that followed was a variation on a simple grilled cheese sandwich, with the addition of beetroot, coriander chutney and chaat masala. It came with a cup of tomato soup, which served as the perfect dip and carried a subtle yet satisfying hint of spice.
JBC is famous for its ‘Pavs’, a sort of Indian-style slider. We shared the Pork Vindalated and the Vada Pav. I was admittedly a little disappointed by the pulled pork pav, since I expected it to carry a serious vindaloo punch. As just a pulled pork slider, it was delicious, yet there was no hint of fiery chilli that one would expect from its name. The Vada Pav consisted of a fried potato puff with coriander yoghurt slaw and more of that vindaloo BBQ sauce. This was definitely my favourite of the two, possibly because it did carry a good punch of chilli.
We finished with the Holy Cow short rib curry. The smoky black cardamom-braised short rib fell apart beautifully at the slightest touch and melted in the mouth, making it wonderfully comforting and a great end to the night.
Prices are very fair at Juhu Beach Club, with most dishes between $100 and $200. Service is friendly, reflecting the casual Californian vibe. Although at times I thought there could have been a tad more chilli, I think JBC is a refreshing addition to Soho that will no doubt appeal to locals, expats, Indians and tourists alike.
Juhu Beach Club
28 Elgin Street
Tel: +852 2177 3544
Closed on Mondays
Weekdays open for dinner only; weekends for brunch and dinner.