Jujube, Southern Ingredients making Asian Food.
Jujube, not quite Asian
Welcome back fickle readers, to the Pot and Pan Handler’s blog edition Jujube. If you’ve ever heard of the Chapel Hill North Carolina Asian restaurant with a James Beard award, that is extremely difficult to get seats at… Fuggetaboudit, that’s the Lantern. Jujube is the other one, the food is still stellar, but it’s far, far easier to get a table. If using southern ingredients to make Asian foods sounds like a movement you can get behind, then read on, interested reader. http://www.jujuberestaurant.com/
Look, first off the location is a bit underwhelming in a strip mall far away from most of the other trendy eateries in Chapel Hill. However, don’t let that fool you, Jujube is a legit joint, with legit food, just in a spot that’s… well, a little less legit. Once you get inside, Jujube is appropriately trendy with the requisite amount of clean modern lines. Other than the exceptional photography of subjects in and around Asia you’ll find none of the kitsch found in so many Asian restaurants.
Now hungry readers, let’s talk about something near and dear to our hearts… Steak. Steak with jasmine scented rice, peanut sauce and some forgettable pickled cucumber salad. We’ve eaten at Jujube probably ten times and one of us ALWAYS orders the steak, because we have a form of food Tourette’s syndrome 1.2.3… 1.2.3… 1.2.3… Just kidding we always order the steak because: it is off the freakin’ chain. 1.2.3… More on that later. 1.2.3…
When ya’ enter Jujube an appropriately overdressed and youthful hostess will seat you promptly with minimal sarcasm. May I suggest to those interested in a Chef’s table to ask for the kitchen bar seating. This bar is where you can watch in awe as the suitably Latino kitchen crew dance the line nimbly preparing tonight’s dishes in a dexterous display of culinary ballet. There you will also be witness to the testament of steak. Watch as the cooks expertly sear steak after steak like a mouthwatering factory line. If you weren’t going to order the steak before you’ll want to now as it is clearly one of the most popular dishes at Jujube. Or possibly because 1.2.3… Oops now you have it.
Jujube’s travel tip #1: unless you enjoy a server who treats you as though you are as relevant to their life as polio, order booze or beer. Otherwise you’ll be prioritized somewhere between hand washing and scheduling a proctology exam on a servers list of priorities. Made up fact: the only thing in the world more inhabited by microbial pathogens than a server’s hand is, the whore of tourist traps, the Blarney stone in Ireland.
If you are on a diet, vegan, or have a religious objection to appetizers, Jujube’s is a good place to make a life style change. Try the short rib & goat cheese won tons. Stuffed to the verge of bursting with seasoned short rib, won tons are fried and garnished with generous dollops of goat cheese. Served on a plank of slate, Jujube’s doesn’t fuck around, like trendy restaurants all over, they know, plates and functional dining ware are for suckers. That’s right, that plate shit is soooo last century.
But as you might remember we always get the steak, so we often opt for steamed pork belly dumplings instead as an appetizer. As hot as it sounds, hot beef on beef action is not really our thing. Hey, we get it if it’s your thing, that’s super cool, no judging, we’d just rather mix it up a little bit. Besides these dumplings are heavenly pillows of seasoned and shredded pork belly lightly steamed within the tasty doughy confines of a superior dumpling. Served with a garlic soy sauce, these delicious dumplings are everything you could want in a starter at an Asian joint.
You’re so special
Okay, what if you are a vegetarian snowflake, with mad dietary constraints? Jujube’s still got ya’ covered in that regard as well. Their menu and their specials menu have some vegetarian options, like lettuce wraps, with corn and lima beans tossed in an a ginger, sesame dressing and topped with a dollop of lovable goat cheese. For the record they, taste incredible. Unlike many vegetarian dishes, these don’t come off as an afterthought, crisp lettuce, the pop off fresh corn and beans all covered in tangy Asian dressing, color me happy. They probably have some vegan, dairy and gluten free shit too. I don’t care.
Never made a misteak yet
Remember that steak we talked about? Of course you do, you’re the reader, it’s your job, just like it’s our job as writers to touch upon the subject earlier. It’s called foreshadowing, yeah, we’re like super pros at this writing shit. Just like you are pros at this reading shit, what a unique juxtaposition of talents. Your yin just got yanged. We should go bowling.
Anyway as you’ve gathered Jujube’s steak is amazing. Grilled hangar steak expertly prepared by the aforementioned Latino line cook ballerinas. Order this, you will not be disappointed. Marinated Lemon Grass Hangar steak grilled to perfection, served with a forgettable cucumber salad and PEANUT SAUCE! Jujube’s peanut sauce is nearly a libation, if not a revelation. If it wasn’t so thick, I’d eat that shit with a straw, sweet peanut sauce, with a hint of soy and just a whisper of chili pepper. Even Hussein Bolt’s track shoes would taste good drizzled in a liberal amount of this peanut sauce.
When the server asks: “Would you like jasmine scented rice?” Remember to say yes. I understand, rice no matter how scented is rather pedestrian. That is, until you add peanut sauce. Jujube’s peanut sauce pairs with rice like French pairs with fries. Sure they’ve got dessert but we usually get our dessert in the form of a bottle of local beer. OK you caught us, a couple bottles of local beer. Although I’ve heard they have peanut butter chocolate mousse. We heart peanut butter, maybe next time.
Coming soon: we’re taking the midnight train to Georgia, where we visit Ted Turner’s whim, Atlanta. Why Atlanta? Four words dear reader, Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles, will they be as good as the waffles and chicken at Lolo’s in Arizona? Same time, same channel, we’ll see ya’ there, until then may the odds be ever in your flavor.