Best Bar Dining

JinBar: True South Korean Comfort Food in Calgary

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Chef Jinhee Lee’s cocktails, pizza and fried chicken make for the Best Bar Dining.

Right from the start, the glowing neon messages – “cocktails and dreams,” “hello gorgeous” – signpost that no matter why you’re here, it’s going to be a good time. JinBar’s split‑level space matches its dual vibe: sleek, yet unpretentious, with cozy corners for date nights and a convivial bar area.

November 3, 2021

Chef Jinhee Lee, long‑time chef de cuisine of Hotel Arts’ Raw Bar and later Foreign Concept’s opening executive chef, has proven herself to be a culinary powerhouse and an exemplar in contemporary Asian fusion cooking. (In 2017, she won a Gold Medal Plate; one year later she cooked her way to the final of Top Chef Canada Season 6.)

Related: Talking to the Winners of Canada’s Best New Restaurants from the Past 20 Years

 the must-have fried chicken sando with tangy Korean chili glaze and spicy aioli on brioche
The must‑have fried chicken sando with tangy Korean chili glaze and spicy aioli on brioche.

In JinBar, Lee now has a lively cocktail‑leaning embodiment of effervescent personality and her love of bold Korean flavours. (Jin is the Korean word for “true.”) Here, Korean comfort food meets bright, punchy libations brought to life with distinctive components like ginseng‑infused gin and yuja tea.

JinBar's kitchen

Lee’s menu stars five flavour twists on Korean‑style fried chicken – the jalapeño‑soy is a lip‑smacking balance of sweet and spicy – and something much less expected: Korean pizza. “People might think that my pizzas are crazy,” says Lee. “To us, nothing is impossible: From bulgogi to kimchi, nearly every iconic Korean food can be a pizza topping.”

Her honey‑butter corn creation (the pizza crust is garnished with honey‑drizzled potato chips) is what garlicky, creamy, cheesy dreams are made of, and the spicy, yet popular, buldak takes no prisoners with the one‑two punch of gochujang and Korean red pepper flakes.

slideshow of images of food and people at JinBar

For a finale, the vintage teacup swirled full of cool soft‑serve ice cream and warm brown‑sugar tapioca pearls is a hell of a fun way to finish things off.

“Growing up in South Korea gave me many happy memories involving foods like pizza, fried chicken and ice cream, so I hope my guests will also have happy memories with our food,” Lee says. Turns out, you can make memories of Korea without leaving Calgary.

jinbar.ca

honey butter corn bulgogi pizza
Salmon Roe
Half honey‑butter corn and chips/half Korean beef bulgogi pizza (yes, we said pizza), pickles and JinBar’s super crispy, juicy fried chicken.

JinBar's Fried Chicken

Korean fried chicken is double fried for a coating that stays extra crispy beneath Jinhee Lee’s signature glazes. 

  • Honey Garlic Butter: Inspired by South Korea’s favourite honey butter chips. “I love savoury 
so much,” says Lee.  

  • Buldak: The “fire chicken” glaze uses a blend of two Korean chili powders. “It gives you Dragon Breath!”

  • Korean Chili: Sugar, soy sauce and gochujang simmered and whisked into garlic chili oil.

Presented By
OpenTable logo
Gold Sponsor
Destination Canada logo
Digital Sponsor
Heineken logo