Jubei is kind of like an izakaya lite. There’s no smoky upstairs room. No raucous Japanese expats. No “irasshaimase!” screaming front of house team. What you get instead is a calm, safely modern-industrial space—obligatory concrete floors, unrendered walls and exposed piping all present and correct—where you can get down to some yakitori and highball action only with a more civilized ambience.
But though there’s nothing really wrong with Jubei’s food—the karaage (B150) deliciously-fried nuggets of oily chicken, the gyutan skewers (B120) chewy morsels of well-charred beef tongue—Mahatun Plaza’s expat drinking crowd don’t seem to be buying it. While Thursday nights see standing-room only on the smoking terraces of La Monita and Osito, only a handful of people bother straying here, just a couple of doors down.
Again, nothing to do with the food. The menu charts an appealing course through fried drinking snacks (calamari tempura, B180; Osaka-style omelet, B120; pork chashu, B150), protein-heavy salads (ginger soy-marinated blackened chicken, B150), bao buns (get the charcoal-seared chashu, B140), rice bowls and even ramen before some heavy, fusion-y—and sinfully delicious—desserts like soymilk panna cotta (B150) and cinnamon-spice bao with vanilla ice cream (B160).
The only real cause for complaint with any of it is the ramen. Our Jubei tonkotsu gyokai shoyu (B220) has a milky, one-dimensional broth that fails to deliver that potent tonkotsu umami kick which the springy noodles and chunky slices of tender chashu pork deserve.
Other issues exist with the service. With dishes forgotten and the bottle of sake kept out of reach to pour yourself, not having waiters anywhere in sight makes us wish we were in the overly-attentive, shouty clutches of a regular old salaryman izakaya.
This review took place in July 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.