Best New Restaurants 2019

At JinJu Patisserie, a Pair of Korean-Born Vegas Expats Find Portland’s Sweet Spot

Butter-bomb croissants to lime yuzu bonbons, this place is a keeper.

By Karen Brooks October 18, 2019 Published in the November 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Assorted desserts from North Williams sugar shack JinJu

Image: Courtesy Jojo

They were both born in Seoul and trained under world-class French pastry gods on the Las Vegas hotel circuit. But master chocolatier Jin Caldwell and dessert ace Kyurim Lee always wanted something more. “Korea is very traditional,” says Caldwell. “It’s very hard for a woman to own a pastry shop. It’s all how thin you are, how well-groomed you are.” And Vegas is Vegas, fake to the bone. The two women regularly met (and bitched) over Korean comfort food, accidentally fell in love, then moved to Portland to open their own shop, their own way. It would be serious and playful, highly crafted but very neighborhood-friendly, and even the free dog treats would be fresh-baked.

Their JinJu Patisserie opened on fast-growing North Williams in the spring, and word circulated like a hot stock tip: don’t miss this one. One case is devoted to savory tarts and righteous croissants, plush milk chocolate to crispy ham and cheese. (“The butter content is crazy,” moaned a friend.)

Another case sparkles with Lee’s Instagram-ready desserts: perhaps a handsome, praline-speckled carrot cake or a fanciful “caramel macchiato” petit gateau plumped with creamy salty caramel and topped with a teardrop of bitter-edged coffee crémeux, each a mere $6. And a third case showcases Caldwell’s exquisite, eye-popping bonbons, yuzu lime to lavender—basically what chocolates would be if Hello Kitty went foodie.

JinJu, true to its name, is a “treasure.” The only thing these detail-oriented chefs forgot? Seats! There’s one bench and some stools along a slim counter. That’s it. You’ve been warned. 4063 N Williams Ave,

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