Let tell you a story about a woman who entered and got lost a mysterious forest...
... and found herself with rice.
Life is like a forest, keep to the track and you may come out relatively unscathed, but head down the beaten path and you'd have had an adventure of a lifetime.
On my journey through the beaten forest, I happened to stumble across the path of Kerby Craig (master of Japanese cuisine) who invited me to eat at Anna Juan's new restaurant Juan.
Not so Asian.
Even though I was born with Asian heritage, my eating habits significantly lack aspects of traditional Asian culture. I enjoy eating Asian food, but I don't really drink much tea, eat a lot ramen, and I especially don't enjoy eating rice. So when I learnt this was a Rice Bowl and Tea house, I admit I got a bit nervous!
Looking at the menu, I quickly realised what sets apart Juan from other Japanese restaurants: it is that everything is simple; there are only five dishes including Tonkotsu and hitsumabushi, and each dish is best paired with a respective tea, expertly crafted by Juan's own tea master. With such a small menu, I knew I'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity like this one. If all they do is rice bowls, it must be really very good, right?
But first, tea.
Although there was Artificer coffee brewing, I thought it would be more fitting to order the tea with my Wagyu Rice Bowl, which is Jin ju mei, a black lapsang souchong variant from Fujian in China. It’s a smoked tea, which is harvested early and fully oxidised, with a prolonged sweet but tannic aftertaste that isn’t unlike an oolong.
The tea was absolutely perfect. Brewed just right with little to no tannin aftertaste, it was a pleasure to sip slowly at it while waiting for my meal.
Today, Kerby Craig ordered the Tonkatsu
The master himself had been studying the menu beforehand, and had made his mind up within a second of exploring the menu. A meat-based donburi, the tonkatsu was a perfect marriage of delicate batter and juicy morerish pork belly. The scrambled eggs were savoury and lush, and balanced with the ripe fresh vegetables it made the perfect meal.
And then there was the Wagyu Rice Bowl
This one is I believe the signature don of Juan. Slow-cooked wagyu atop a bed of umami seasoned garlic rice, topped with an oozey soft poached onsen egg, a crispy renkon chip, and served with an incredible sweet onion sauce. My head, heart and stomach was in a constant battle whether to devour or to savour it - it was that good!
So in saying this, does that mean I am now a fan of rice?
Well, let's just say I won't be crossing that off the menu any longer.
Times I've Been: First Visit!
Favourite Beverage(s): Jin ju mei
Favourite Dish(es): Wagyu Rice Bowl
Great if you: love Japanese food, Wagyu, Tea
Not great if you: can't eat grains!
Thank you for reading! Share with your friends, family, and other foodies! Please give feedback so I may always be improving my writing, photography, and finding new ways to stuff my face. Now go out and try more food and report back with your next favourite!