This November, Taiwanese inspired restaurant Mr Ji, located in the heart of Soho, is set to reopen its doors with a new look and a brand new, extended menu.
Working closely with friends Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of TA TA Eatery and TOU on the redesign and menu development, founder Samuel Haim has refurbished the space to transform Mr Ji from a grab-and-go spot to a buzzy restaurant with table service.
Taking cues from Taiwanese canteens for the daytime and late-night, stripped back bars for the evening, Mr Ji will now offer a more refined, expanded menu that is still centred around the Taiwanese inspired fried chicken for which Mr Ji is known, as well as a new and forward-thinking cocktail menu.
Settling in for the evening, guests can choose from a dinner menu of ‘The Classics’ and ‘Small Eats’ that celebrate Mr Ji’s fried chicken expertise while drawing on Ana and Meng’s passion for innovative flavour combinations and modern techniques.
Kicking off ‘The Classics’ will be The O’Ji - a twist on the original from Mr Ji of a deep fried chicken breast with chilli sprinkles, while The Ji Sando will be made with a pineapple bap, deep fried chicken thigh and cucumber salad, and Lil’ Chick will be a roasted poussin with spicy XO sauce and peanut.
For those looking for lighter bites to go with their chicken, ‘Small Eats’ will include Not Another Cucumber Salad, with cucumber, black fungus, yuba and chilli, and Daikon Cake, made of steamed daikon and shiitake mushrooms with a garlic soy paste.
Prawn ‘In’ Toast will be a toasted brioche ‘box’ filled with velvety prawn sauce and prawns, while T Egg, a tea-marinated soft-boiled egg will be served with smokey mayo and katsuobushi.
Packed full of crunchy vegetables and served with a ‘dough stick’, a Curry and ‘Soldier’ will be on offer with the option to go small or large, as well as Szechuan Crinkle fries with chilli oil and coriander.
To end on a sweet note, desserts will be Fried Milk, a panko crusted, deep fried milk custard with sesame and peanut, or a selection of Taiwanese ice lollies in a variety of flavours.
The cocktail list, created by drinks expert Cyan Wong, will strike a balance between old school street food diners of Asia and the more contemporary, modern style of Soho bars.
Drawing on her knowledge of Chinese flavours and her love for tea, Cyan has created cocktails including a light and refreshing Grapefruit Spritz, with Hawthorne grapefruit syrup, sweet vermouth, Martini bitters, Aperol and soda, a Melon Shake made with condensed milk fortified with honeydew melon, pear spirit and cardamom, and an Oh Ji Ice Tea made with lemon tea, falernum coke, honey and rum.
For something slightly stronger, a Salted Plum Negroni with Japanese umeshu and tequila, fortified wines and bitters, and short sub zero shots in the form of a Rice Martini made with Cuban style white rum, Manzanilla, fermented rice syrup and maraschino, and a lime leaf Margarita. Taiwanese beers will complete the drinks list.
Guests stopping by for lunch, to eat in or take away, can choose from a slightly smaller à la carte menu, or opt for the set lunch which features a selection of ‘The Classics’ paired with ‘Small Eats’, for example The O’Ji with 24k kimchi, or The Ji Sando with Szechuan Crinkles.
On arrival at Mr Ji, guests will pull up a low, Taiwanese-style metal stool at one of the canteen-style tables, and order with table service. LED lights and neon signage throughout the room will create a sense of being in a Taiwanese street food market, with the open pass and large, central bar only adding to the bustling atmosphere.
Haim said, “Having been forced to close for lockdown, I was more determined than ever to bring the lively evening vibe back to Soho once I could open Mr Ji’s doors again. After many evenings at TA TA Eatery with Ana and Meng, we decided to work together to make Mr Ji a place where guests can sit down and get stuck in to dinner with friends, in a space that has a real buzz just like the Taiwanese spots I fell in love with on my travels.”
Gonçalves added, “Meng and I have known Sam for years so we’re really excited to be working with him so closely on this project. Mr Ji is definitely going to be our go-to Soho spot for a drink and a fried chicken fix!”