Monday, December 21, 2020

Restaurant review: Joie by Dozo at Orchard Central, Singapore

For me, December in Singapore is always the perfect time to catch up with friends. I have a few groups of friends that I usually get to meet only once or twice a year due to our busy schedules and scattered locations so I make sure to meet up with them during the year end holidays. Then there are the few close friends who live  nearby and whose schedules are more compatible with mine so meeting them is easier and requires less planning. With them also December catch-ups inevitable happen so my social calendar is usually pretty full! 

I met up with one of my close friends last weekend. We have a list of restaurants in Singapore to checkout (which we take very seriously) and we always have so much to talk about so the date was finalized weeks in advance. I contacted the restaurant and made a dinner reservation.   

Sitting prettily on the rooftop garden of Orchard Central, Joie (it is pronounced ‘joy’ if you were wondering) by Dozo, is a vegetarian fine dining establishment in Singapore. The restaurant specializes in modern meatless cuisine with European, Japanese and Taiwanese influences. If you have explored the Singapore vegetarian dining scene, you will be aware that there are hardly any options for purely vegetarian establishments in the fine dining category. Strange eh

People embrace vegetarianism or veganism for a number of reasons such as health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. With plant-based diets gaining popularity around the world, the use of innovative cooking techniques to highlight natural produce featuring fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs seems to be a dining trend that is here to stay. 

Joie by Dozo offers guests a set menu concept which consists of an elaborate six-course lunch or seven-course dinner. One can expect beautifully presented contemporary dishes with a fusion of Asian and European sensibilities. Emphasis is placed on fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts with liberal use of natural flavouring agents like truffle and sesame. And thank heavens they steer clear of the abomination that is mock meat! The team of chefs at Joie aim to challenge the common misconceptions about meatless cuisine and make it more attractive to the diners. 

Although the restaurant is located smack in the middle of Singapore's busiest shopping district, the serenity of the rooftop garden transports you into a surprisingly quiet and relaxing sanctuary. The sweeping skyline views of nearby Somerset and Orchard Road are dotted by greenery during the day and adorned by dazzling lights at night.

Upon entering the restaurant via the escalator from the 11th floor of Orchard Central, you will be greeted  by a spacious and bright space. The floor to ceiling windows allow natural light to stream in giving the restaurant a greenhouse feel and once it gets dark, the lights from outside imparts a luminous effect. With its dark flooring, modern light fixtures, muted yet rich fabric upholstery and bronze and grey overtones, the ambience can be best described as contemporary chic. Diners can choose a seat along the plush leather-quilted banquette, luxurious velvet armchairs or at no additional cost, one of the five private rooms which seats four to sixteen people.

The staff attending to our table enquired if we had any dietary restrictions or preferences before taking our order.

Since there is no a la carte menu, ordering is quite straightforward. I and my friend picked one dish each out of the 6 courses that had 4-6 options to choose from. 

Immediately after ordering, we were offered a passion fruit cooler which was chilled, refreshing and delicious - a great palate cleanser! We were also served periodic refills of a hot green tea throughout the meal. 

There were some complimentary crispy noodle-like sticks that were salty, very mildly spicy and quite addictive! 

Chef’s Selection of Assorted Platter

We were served a dainty trio of appetizers on a narrow granite slab. The staff advised us on the order which we should sample them. We started with the one in the middle which was a carrot sashimi roll topped with garlic sauce. It had a curiously jelly-like squishy texture (how in the world did they manage to get carrot like that?!) and pleasant flavour. The second was a crispy seaweed cracker with tiny vibrant dollops of spicy wasabi mayo and a sweet fruit puree which was quite appetizing. The third was a very unusual tasting raspberry sphere on a nut-based cracker which is supposed to be eaten in one bite. Although it looked good and was refreshing, it was quite tart and my least favourite of the three. 

Side Dish
Gratinated Champignon with Mozzarella

Being a huge lover of all varieties of cheese and mushrooms, to me, this was a no-brainer. I really enjoyed this gratin. It arrived nicely presented and perfect portioned in a shallow indented serving dish (fortunately lesser quantity than what I suspected). This baked side dish consists of meaty button mushrooms encased in warm oozy cheese topped with microgreens with toasted bread and sweetened endives on the side. 


Charcoal Coated Tempura Platter
I'll be honest, when I looked at this for the first time, I was slightly alarmed! It did not look very appetizing but when I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. This side dish is a tempura of yam, eggplant, apple, banana with Japanese sesame dressing. The crispiness of the tempura, the savoury and sweet notes from the vegetables and fruits and the moreish sauce, made for a really unique and winning combination indeed. 

Cold Dish

Dragon Fruit Lotus with Truffle Vegetable Garden
I like pink dragon fruit so I ordered this cold dish/salad. This simple dish has carved dragon fruit topped with Japanese sesame-based dressing and vegetable salad perfumed with truffle. The dragon fruit was good and I really liked the salad on the side but I found the sesame dressing overwhelming (I'm not a huge fan of sesame in general). This one was average for me. 

Mascarpone and Watermelon Tataki with Chips Three Ways
My friend ordered this cold dish. I loved the chic presentation. It consisted of mascarpone and mozzarella cheese salad, chips of corn, spinach, purple potato, balsamic and olive oil caviar. A contrasting medley of flavors and textures coming together in perfect harmony. 



Infusion of Cepes and Truffle
I already mentioned my love of mushrooms. Initially not a big fan of the truffle flavour, I have changed my opinion over the course of many years and now I do appreciate the aroma and flavour of truffle very much. This warming, robust and comforting soup has cepes mushroom with white winter truffle oil and black truffles. The aroma hit me even before I had a chance to sample it! It is wonderful that they kept the portion small (who wants to fill up on soup right?) and the flavourful creamy soup tantalized the senses. I would definitely order it again.


Clear Tomato Soup with Garbanzo
This soup has a tomato broth with orzo pasta and chickpeas served with a spinach dumpling. It was quite generic and lacked both flavour and seasoning. The dumpling wasn't anything special either. This was a disappointment. 

Main Course

Truffle Risotto
If I spot risotto in a main course section of a menu, I will order it by default. In my household, different types of risotto are made (not by me but my husband) quite regularly so I am used to eating it. I also have certain expectations from a risotto. The truffle risotto is made with black truffle, cepes and edamame, topped with mascarpone cream, a Japanese croquette, rocket, thinly sliced radish and a parmesan crisp. I liked the simple presentation, texture of the risotto, the uniqueness of the edamame and the crispy croquette. The flavour of the risotto is very subtle to the point of bordering on bland (it could have definitely done with more truffle and parmesan flavour) but overall, I liked this dish. 


Duo Ravioli Platter
My friend ordered the ravioli. When it arrived, it appeared much different than what we had in mind! The ravioli at Joie is a duo of pumpkin and spinach ravioli (folded like a tortellini), with a flower emulsion and a herb-infused cashew sauce. We both felt that the ravioli was a bit too al dente for our liking, they were underfilled and the sauce was too thin and too little. This dish was a bit of a letdown. 


Gastronomic Chocolate
From the name, I couldn't tell what it would be so the staff helped me out. Gastronomic Chocolate turned out to be soft melt-in-the-mouth dark chocolate mousse with chocolate sauce and a dehydrated fruit slice. In general, I like the tartness of berries against the sweetness of chocolate so more sliced strawberries would have been nice. Although there was nothing unique about this dessert, it was still good. 

Red Wine Poached Pear with Lime Sorbet
This dessert caught my eye out of the lot in the dessert category and I was eager to try it. It was exactly how I imagined it would be - delicious soft fleshy pear with a sublime lime sorbet which was delightfully zingy and freshening! A great end to the meal. However, the presentation was a little messy and could have been executed better. 



Ice Mallow Apple Melody
An invigorating blend of mallow flowers, apple and guava juice. Great blend of flavours, sweet, cold and refreshing with floral hints and chunks of apple. A big thumbs up! 


Hawaiian Blue
An electric blue house mocktail of lychee and blueberry. This drink was also well received. The combination of lychee and blueberry hits all the right sweet and fruity notes making it a good thirst quencher. But between the two, I'd say the Ice mallow Apple Melody is the clear winner. 

I really liked that the restaurant is somewhat compartmentalized so you get the feeling of privacy. Even though the area we were seated at had only two other tables in the vicinity, the other diners were very discreet so it almost felt like it was just the two of us there (jabbering non-stop I admit!). It made me realize that this would be a very good venue for a romantic date night 😀

Although the restaurant looks quite elegant, I did notice that the tables and even some of the plates had a lot of scratches on them which was a little off-putting. Probably as a food blogger, I notice these details a bit more than casual diners. My suggestion to the restaurant management would be to use table cloths and to replace all the worn out plates. 

At the start of the dinner, we were both a bit intimidated by the 7-course menu. But looking back, it was actually just right. The selection of dishes and portion sizes have been very well designed and executed so that you can enjoy each course and feel satisfied without being uncomfortably full at the end. 

On our way out, we were able to take in the night skyline from the roof garden and enjoy the lovely breeze. After that we walked the entire length of Orchard road to take a loot at the Christmas decoration and lights. It was an evening well spent indeed! 

Vegetarian Food with a Flair!

If you are a vegetarian or vegan living in Singapore, Joie by Dozo has to be on your restaurants-to-check-out list. Even if you are a meat-lover, you should be able to appreciate what this restaurant has to offer. I was pleased to note that even though the restaurant is considered fine dining, the dining experience is a casual and relaxed affair rather than a stifling and pretentious one. For me, the dishes were a mix of hits and misses (mostly hits) but the restaurant gets full points for  location, ambience, creativity and presentation.  I loved that we were able to enjoy a quiet evening with good food and great conversation. The staff were courteous and made the effort to describe each course and highlight any food pairings. Even at the end of our meal, we were asked to give feedback and it was taken graciously. Price-wise, even though it could be considered slightly on the higher side ($39.80 for 6-Course set lunch and $69.80 for 7-Course set dinner per pax), I can vouch for the fact that the experience is worth it. 

I recommend this restaurant for couples, business lunches and small gatherings. 

My rating for this restaurant is,

Joie Restaurant

Tel: 6838 6966
Fax: 6838 6967

181 Orchard Road #12-01 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896

Daily Operation Hours
Lunch: 12pm to 3pm (2pm Last Order)
Dinner: 6pm to 10pm (9pm Last Order)


This is NOT a sponsored post or invited review

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