Top Chef Evelyn Garcia Debuts Long-Awaited Jūn by Kin in the Heights

Top Chef Evelyn Garcia Debuts Long-Awaited Jūn by Kin in the Heights

Chefs Evelyn Garcia and Henry Lu (photo by JIA Media)

“THE MOST IMPORTANT thing I learned from my Top Chef journey was how strong mentally I am because it was one of the hardest and most stressful things I’ve ever done,” says chef Evelyn Garcia.

Those nerves of steel will come in handy with her recent debut of Jūn (420 E. 20th St., Ste A) in the Heights with co-founder Henry Lu featuring riffs on Southeast Asian cuisine. Jūn — a nod to June, the birth month of Lu’s sister and Garcia’s mother — is the first restaurant for both chefs.

The duo came together after both working gigs in New York kitchens. For native Houstonian Garcia, that meant honing her chops at top spots like Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market and Thai restaurant Kin Shop. After moving back to Houston, Garcia and Lu started catering company By Kin HTX, and worked in Rice Village’s Politan Row food hall until it shuttered. Since Bravo’s Top Chef, the two have been growing their business with well attended pop-up events around town.

Formerly the home of Steel City Pops, Jūn’s open-warehouse-like restaurant was originally a 1950s-era washeteria. It’s been reimagined into a sleek and intimate space by Gin Design Group boasting three distinct dining areas fashioned with tropical plants, natural distressed floors and eclectic pieces. Expect a homey, modern vibe with earthy touches including handmade ceramics from Oaxaca, Mexico, on which every dish is served.

All 15 or so “new Asian American” dishes are designed to be shared. Come hungry for taste adventures including Gulf shrimp with avocado and taro; raw oysters with fermented mango; and beef tartare with toasted rice. Whole branzino dusted with cinnamon, clove and guajillo; lamb in soulful curry with pistachios; and Thai chili fried chicken are a few of the recipes passed down from generations.

For a deliciously different dessert, consider the nuegados, a yuca-mochi-like donut finished with star anise, orange zest and pilonsillo syrup. Rather sip a cocktail to complement the fare? Try the beautiful, cool and refreshing sake-based “Thai One On!”

Jūn is open nightly for dinner at 5PM.

Interiors by Gin Braverman (Photo by Claudia Casbarian)

The bar at Jūn (Photo by Claudia Casbarian)

Jūn lamb in curry

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