It hadn’t even occurred to me that the North Loop was missing something. Until, that is, I ate the something it was missing. In the restaurant it was missing.
Nestled in the heart of the North Loop along Washington Avenue in the Else Warehouse building is JUN. This labor of a mother-son (Jessie Wong and Jack Wang) team’s love, JUN takes solid Sichuan fare in all its fiery glory and elevates it with a class worthy of its modern, contemporary surroundings.
A couple weeks back, some friends and I popped in to JUN to taste our way across the tempting new menu. And tempted we were.
The space, as I mentioned, is modern without being cold. There’s a warmth that permeates both the dining area and the bar. This is the kind of place you’ll want to head with a few friends after work for drinks and small plates or drag a besty to when you’re craving some serious Chinese.
The menu itself is broken up into small dishes, soups, rice and noodles, and the requisite proteins you’d expect. Nothing complicated or too clever for the room. We’re talking quality Sichuan-inspired classics.
Our afternoon started with a number of the small dishes, all of which are freshly handmade daily. JUN’s bao bao, for example, steamed buns stuffed with pork belly and freshly grated ginger, are heavenly pillows of porky goodness.
The spicy Sichuan dumplings drenched in chili sauce literally melt in the mouth. As they can be prepared either steamed or pan-fried, go ahead and get an order of each. Again, fresh handmade dumplings in this town aren’t a too common occurrence. Take advantage and indulge.
The same can be said for the dan dan noodles. These scratch-made udon noodles are served up with a spicy sesame sauce and topped with greens and minced pork. I haven’t had noodles of this caliber in ages and, frankly, I could’ve ended the meal inhaling two orders of these alone.
But I didn’t. Lucky for me. And lucky for you.
Before we get to proteins, permit me to rave madly about one more noodle dish. Trust me. It’s worth every word of recommendation. If you visit JUN without ordering the beef chow fun, you’ve failed. There’s nothing particularly unusual about the dish. Until you taste it, that is. It might just be beef stir-fried with flat wide rice noodles, but there’s so much more going on inside this dish. It’s Chinese comfort food at its best. You can quite literally taste the love that went into making it.
On to proteins and the world really is your oyster. And by oyster, I mean pork, poultry, beef, lamb, and seafood.
We inhaled the entire plate of La Zi chicken. These fried chicken wings, stir-fried with fresh ginger, garlic, and chili peppers would make a perfect appetizer or an entire meal. Lamb lovers lucked out with the Yaqian Rou. This heaping plate full of crispy, cumin-coated mini lamb skewers was a technicolor feast of flavor and definitely one of the more unique dishes on the menu.
Porkwise, traditionalists will fall in love with the classic Peking shredded pork with scratch-made pancakes. Stuffing the tangy pork inside the warm, pillowy pockets of steamed dough quickly became a table favorite.
Speaking of table favorites, we can’t complete our menu journey with mentioning cocktails. And, gratefully, mocktails. The craft cocktail scene seems a requirement for any North Loop establishment and JUN is no exception. The cocktails and mocktails both flowed at our table and took top honors by all who imbibed. Special mentions for both the Cranberry Fluff and Oolong Nog.
Hot and sour soup to nuts, JUN is welcome addition to the North Loop. This fiery little pocket of hand-crafted Sichuan cookery lights up an already beaming stretch of Minneapolis’ food and drink finest. The next time you’re craving homemade noodles or something on the spicier side of the block, pay JUN a visit. And don’t forget that order of beef chow fun!
730 N Washington Ave., Minneapolis