Jess’ Restaurant originally opened its doors in January of 2021, but the story of its inception and concept is much more complicated.
The restaurant, which is located in Kerrisdale at 2179 West 41 Avenue, has undergone several iterations since 2020, but has recently reinvented itself in a way that feels more true to its original concept.
Jess’ Restaurant, which is named after its owner, is nothing short of opulent, with thousands of Swarovski crystals suspended from its ceiling, lush booths upholstered in jewel tones, and no shortage of mirrors to reflect it all back at you.
Don’t even get us started on its bathrooms, which are gilded in gold from the walls to the sinks.
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During a recent visit before the restaurant’s long-awaited reopening, General Manager Winson Ho told us the long story of how the restaurant started as one thing, turned into another, and, in a roundabout way, found its way back to itself.
Essentially, due to reasons caused by both pandemic restrictions and staffing issues, Jess’ gained and lost four kitchen teams in two years. “We’ve been in survival mode and development mode” for the past two years, Ho tells Dished.
Now, Jess’ is poised to reestablish itself in the city’s dining scene, and with a refreshed modern Korean menu at that.
The owner, who is of Korean descent, had originally imagined the restaurant offering the kind of Korean dishes that are hard to find outside of the Asian country, and are certainly few and far between in Vancouver.
After a brief period of time dabbling in French fusion and West Coast-inspired cuisine, Jess’ now has three chefs, all of which grew up in Korea and are excited to bring fine Korean dining to the table.
During our preview, we were able to sample some of the restaurant’s dishes from its upcoming Dine Out Vancouver menu, which will be debuting this Friday, January 20.
From beef tartare with gochujang served on crystal arrowroot crackers to Korean skewers to an absolute game-changing spicy tomato kimchi salad, Jess’ menu is elevated but approachable.
The Dine Out menu will offer diners a few options for appetizers, mains, and desserts, all for a reasonable $58 per person.
The dishes here are varied and suit a variety of tastes, whether you’re familiar with Korean cuisine or not.
The Gamja-jeon (potato pancakes) are artful and delicate, served with perilla leaf, garlic purée, and a housemade rice wine vinegar, while the Jo-gae-tang (Korean clam stew) was a buttery but intensely flavourful bowl of clams in a gochujang cream sauce (we recommend ordering the bread alongside to soak up the broth).
Mains include braised ling cod, Galbi-jjim (braised short ribs), and Gooksoo (sesame noodles), all of which offer a peek into the chefs’ Korean backgrounds and expertise in flavour and texture.
Luckily, you can’t go wrong with either of Jess’ dessert options, but Ho requested we keep these under wraps as they’re still in development (you’ll just have to take our word for how delicious they both are).
Jess’ Restaurant’s participation in Dine Out is a way of reintroducing it to the neighbourhood and the city, before it officially opens on February 15.
While the menu may change slightly before then, Ho assures us that some of these dishes will stick around (like the spicy tomato kimchi salad that we can’t stop thinking about) but that the menu will reflect the season’s availability.
The restaurant is also aiming to work primarily with Korean suppliers, with which the chefs already have an established relationship.
As for its bar offerings, Ho tells us that in addition to cocktails, beer, and wine, there will be dozens of different kinds of soju – which is absolutely essential for any Korean restaurant.
Until it opens officially, you can check out Jess’ revamped menu during Dine Out Vancouver.
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Address: 2179 West 41 Avenue, Vancouver