So a new southern comfort food place opened up Chinatown, in a new building on Keefer Street, just east of the Floata restaurant.
Juke apparently takes it’s name from “juke joint”. This comes from the pre-desegregation days of white-only and black-only bars and restaurants in the American southern states. Juke joints were black pubs and restaurants in rural areas, characterized by the music and food.
The food is decidedly american southern comfort food; fried chicken, barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, etc.
Since its claim to fame is fried chicken, we went with that.
This is fresh chicken brined in buttermilk, coated in a gluten-free batter (a mixture of corn starch, rice flour, corn flour and potato starch), well seasoned with spices and herbs, and deep-fried to a light crunch. This is fabulous chicken. It’s moist and savory, and the coating is light and crunchy without feeling oily.
It comes with a large serving of pork and peanut slaw. This is a clever slaw made of fresh red and green cabbage, dressed with a lime and peanut vinaigrette, topped with roasted peanuts and slivers of pig-ear cracklins. I didn’t care for this coleslaw. I found it slightly too acidic for me liking, and some of the pig-ear cracklins were too hard and too crunchy.
One of the feature menu items was a sous-vide pork belly
This is a sous-vided pork belly, brushed with a sweet glaze and flame kissed to caramelize the surface. Its sliced and served with a generous heaping of fresh apple slaw and a curried humus-like spread.
This was a fabulous dish. The pork is tender and aromatic, with a lightly sweet glaze. The slaw was crisp, sharp and lightly acidic, which offset the fattiness of the pork.
For a side dish, we ordered some roasted cauliflower with spiced yogurt
This is bite sized portions of cauliflower, oven roasted, and dressed with a herbed pesto, and drizzled with a spiced creamy yogurt, deep-fried chickpeas, and pickled onions.
This side dish is a winner. The roasted cauliflower is slightly sweet, with a little char, and the pesto adds some herbaceous hit. The creamy yogurt and the crunchy fried chickpeas offer some great textural contrasts.
The dining area is a compact space, probably only seating 35-40. It’s dimly lit, and has a decidedly industrial feel to the space.
Our servers were pleasant and attentive, and happy to explain the dishes and feature items.
The place was very busy on this Saturday night, and many people opted to order takeout, rather than wait for table.
On a return visit, I grabbed some takeout
this is their dirty fries
freshly chipped fried potatoes, topped with mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, and pickled onions. The fries were hot and fresh, but not very crisp. And with the sauces on top, it became soggy pretty quickly. The taste is pretty good. The fries are well seasoned, and the pickled onions provide a nice acidic contrast to the fattiness of the fries. The barbeque sauce is smokey and lightly spicy (not very sweet).
And this is the Chicken Tenders
these are strips of buttermilk marinaded chicken breast, dredged in the same gluten free coating as their regular (bone-in) fried chicken, served with a cup of dipping sauce (in this case, it’s honey mustard). I’m not usually disposed toward chicken breast, but this exceeded my expectations. These chicken strips are well seasoned and surprisingly moist. They’re lightly crisp. The dipping sauce appears to be house made, from grainy mustard, and a light honey.