Sunday, 13 December 2015

Joie by Dozo - Edible Eye Candy

I’m a meat-lover, the idea of a meatless meal had never appealed to me. Yet last week WHO is pretty much suggesting meat causes cancer, not just processed stuff, even a good-looking dry-aged premium quality steak does no good to our bodies. I somehow find it hard to believe. Anyhow, Mama Chan is a fan of rabbit food, so treating her to some fancy vegetables makes sense.

Joie by Dozo served modern vegetarian cuisine. I was skeptical, and I know Papa Chan would too if I had told him, so I didn’t mention ‘no meat’ to anyone. We were led to a private room overlooking the rooftop garden. The decor was not to my taste, the patterned lacquered walls, mini chandeliers that look decidedly acrylic, just look a bit cheap, trying-too-hard and outdated. It was okay by Asia standard. Service was excellent though.

Amuse Bouche crushed iced passionfruit juice
A refreshing passionfruit juice to whet our appetite.

Starter: Chef’s selection of Assorted Platter of Pickled Carrot, Seaweed Cracker with Horseradish cream and Whole-wheat cracker with Raspberry compote
The carrot was presented to look like salmon sashimi; the texture was slightly crunchy with a sweet undertone behind the gentle acidity. The mild kick in the smooth horseradish cream masked the seaweed flavour well, so even Papa Chan ate his. My favourite was the raspberry compote, neatly contained in a thin jelly film and exploded its tangy sweetness in mouth.

Transparency of Manchego Cheese cherry tomato, bell peppers, croutons, walnut and black olives
We all ordered something different from each section, so we could try more dishes. Though very pleasing to the eye, there was little surprise in terms of flavour, the powerful cheese took on the array of pairings. I liked it with black olives most, but obviously preferred it with Spanish bellota jamon. Oh sorry, no meat.

Gratinated Champignon with mozzarella button mushroom gratin served with Tennessee heirloom potato puree and Belgian endive, focaccia
This wasn’t as exciting as it sounded on paper, it was baked cheese and mushroom in a snail dish, minus the snail – can’t go wrong.

Matsutake Cake steamed Japanese mushroom with rosemary gel, golden enoki and crème patissiere, pistachio crumbs
Matsutake is a small Japanese fungi, usually quite potent in flavour with a delicate fragrance, though it’s quite subdued when infused into the sponge. It worked well with the clear rosemary jelly and the silky cream helped to moisten up the cake. I quite enjoyed the subtlety of this dish.

Tempura Platter on Mash charcoal coated yam, eggplant, apple, banana with Japanese orange sesame dressing
The charcoal tempura drizzled with gold paint looked… interesting, I guess they were striving for the black shiny stone look. The batter was paper-thin and greaseless, unfortunately so was the eggplant and apple so it was like eating very crispy paper; the citrus sesame dressing was delicious, like yuzu but slightly punchier.

Clear Tomato Broth with Garbanzo tomato and chickpea with orzo pasta and spinach dumpling;
Infusion of Cepes and Truffle cepes mushroom perfumed with white winter truffle oil and black truffles;
Pumpkin Velouté pumpkin velouté with tomato ciabatta and edible petals
The soup course was lacking surprise; each soup was good and tasted as it should. The mushroom soup was probably the least interesting; tomato broth was marginally better with a swimming dumpling.

Snow Pear and Napa Cabbage Consommé double-boiled rich vegetable stock with baby pear and almond
This soup won the best presentation. It resembled slow-cooked Chinese soup, the taste was clean and crisp with hints of fruity sweetness.

Truffle Risotto risotto with black truffle, cepes and edamame with mascarpone cream, parmesan crisp
I have had quite a few truffle risotto, and strictly speaking this is ‘risotto with one small flake of truffle’; there was no trace of truffle fragrance at all – it was purely for illustrative purpose. I prefer my risotto in a thicker consistency, this version was quite watery and was not dissimilar to mushy rice. I think the kitchen could have done better, though the mouthfuls with mascarpone was delicious.

Hedgehog Summer Mushroom braised and fried monkey mushroom with oriental spices, celeriac puree and truffle foam
This chunky blocks of monkey mushroom is the closest texture to meat, like braised lean meat. Despite the juiciness, it was still quite a grisly fungi, partly due to its thickness; Mama Chan took her time chewing through the well-seasoned blocs. 

Duo Ravioli Platter duo of pumpkin and spinach ravioli, flower emulsion, basil cream sauce
The ravioli were good, though again, slightly overcooked; I preferred the pumpkin ones as they had a more distinctive flavour than spinach. The basil cream sauce was beautifully rich and thick, Papa Chan really enjoyed it.

Trio of Sphere wild rice with lentils, butternut pumpkin risotto ball with curry mayonnaise, asparagus bundle with butter mash
My trio of tasters was probably the least substantial main. Despite the enticing presentation, it was quite disappointing. The asparagus was just asparagus on a bed of mash; the quinoa was exactly how you’d expect quinoa to be, mixed with small cubes of mushroom; the risotto ball was undoubtedly the best of three, where pumpkin and mild curry flavours complimented each other, packed with some stretchy cheese in the middle.   

Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Indulgent, bitter-sweet chocolate fondant can’t go wrong

Cheese Cake
Both Papa Chan and I went for cheesecake. It was a good cheesecake.

Truffle Crème Brulee
This was really good. The custardy egg was infused with small bit of truffle, the fragrance was remarkable.

Iced Mallow Apple Melody mallow flowers, apple and guava juice
While Papa Chan and Auntie Amy decided to go for boring coffee, Mama Chan went for a refreshing pot of iced apple tea. Delicious.

Mocktail of Love cranberry, orange and pineapple
And I finished with another iced drink served in test tubes, on ice.

In general we all enjoyed our lunch at Joie. I believe the alluring presentation made a huge contribution, as well as the excellent service, perhaps even more than the food itself. The ingredients were quite repetitive; various kinds of mushroom and pumpkin appeared multiple times throughout the courses. It’s somewhat understandable, especially when Singapore isn’t known for its wealth of food resource. I think the kitchen did well to deliver a relatively wider range in the menu. It was still more style over substance - totally up Mama Chan’s alley.

Me? I would probably still prefer a good burger. Oh, and no one noticed there was no meat.

181 Orchard Road
#12-01 Orchard Central

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