Years ago, I remember dining at Dozo restaurant at River Valley where the cuisine served was a mix between French contemporary and Japanese Omakase styled. In those days, this was a very interesting and new concept and the restaurant atmosphere was very classy and zen. When I started reading reviews online talking about Joie, I realised the same Dozo group has extended their concept to meatless dining. Located at the sky garden of Orchard Central, Joie is the new innovative meatless restaurant by the same people behind Dozo’s famous menu.
One of the 2 restaurants located at the roof garden, you have to take another escalator after taking the lift to the 11th floor of Orchard Central.
You can feel the zen decor from the entrance – this really blurred as I was trying a new phone which is why I did not use this as the cover picture.
You are greeted by a wall of certificates and awards once you enter the restaurant. You will immediately be served by the service counter the moment you enter and they will lead you to your designated table if you have made a reservation
The restaurant is quite different in the atmosphere in the day and night. You can see more orange warm lighting whereas this picture in the evening has a bit more blue lights added so it felt more mystical.
Even the outdoor seats are very different in the day and night. The night feel is definitely more romantic and suitable for a date night.
There are also 5 private rooms for booking for any private celebrations or events. The rooms can seat up to 16 people for larger groups or only 4 people for those who prefer a quiet and private meal.
Those not familiar with Dozo, they offer only course meals with no a la carte selection. The same concept is carried over to Joie with 6 or 7-course meals for selection. The 6 course set lunch costs SGD 38.80 and 7-course set dinner at SGD 68.80 ( excluding tax). For the 7 course dinner, you can make one selection from the categories of side dish, cold dish, soup, mains, dessert and drink. For the starter, there is only 1 choice which is the chef’s selection. The server serving us made many recommendations and gave us a very clear explanation of how the menu works as well.
While waiting for our food to be served, this really bothered me. While the restaurant tried to sell the classy, fine dining concept with the same kind of pricing to match, their table setting is less than desirable. The utensils used are heavy and of good quality but I cannot understand why there was no table runner or cloth or just a placemat for the utensils to sit on. Instead, it was left plainly on the table and many times, they would topple over or made the scratchy metal on laminate sound.
We were served a palate-cleansing drink before the meal started. The icy cold drink tasted a lot of passionfruit juice which has quite a sour taste. It was very refreshing and a good palate cleanser.
After our orders were taken, we were served the starter which is a platter of 3 items. The first was a Rasberry bomb pearl bomb which is kind of like a palate cleanser to get you ready for the flavours ahead. It is like a liquidy pearl which burst the moment you have it in your mouth. We were told by the server to start from the right which is the Rasberry bomb. It is really quite sour and refreshing. The 2nd item was the ‘salmon’ sashimi with seaweed and mayonnaise which is surprisingly good and tasted moderately similar to the real thing. The last item was the cracker with mango sauce and a herb which is quite disappointing as the taste was flat after eating the first 2 items. I do think it would have been better if we started from the left which is the cracker with the much milder taste.
We had 2 different side dish, the first being the Gratinated Champignon with Mozzarella which is basically button mushrooms gratin served with Belgian endive. This dish came highly recommended by both online reviews and the server so we had pretty high expectations. Mimicking a plate of escargots, the mushrooms were served in the same familiar brown baking dish. The mushrooms were buried in the circular holes and topped with generous amounts of cheese. As expected this dish did not disappoint as the cheese was baked till golden brown and melted while the mushroom absorbed both the cheese and endive flavours.
The next side dish was also recommended by the server which is the Bailing Mushroom on Paper Hot Pot. The mushroom was simmering in a broth of light miso and was pretty flavourful. Eating the mushroom together with the seafood added a different layer of fragrance and umami flavours from the sea.
The next menu to follow was the cold dish and the first to arrive was the sashimi platter which was greatly raved by food bloggers as well as the server. The sashimi came in a huge bowl of ice made to resemble actual sashimi on ice. The platter had salmon sashimi which was actually carrot konnyaku jelly, scallop lookalike which is roasted coconut meat, hamachi lookalike which is actually Chinese yam. There was also little red pearls which were made of jelly to mimic fish roe and a cup of the oyster leaf which is supposed to taste like an oyster.
Firstly, the salmon was the same thing that was served during the starter so it was good and surprisingly better when dipped with soy sauce. The coconut and Chinese yam was very fresh but tasted nothing similar to other fishes. The next thing that tasted very vaguely like the real thing was the Oyster leaf as it had that raw taste and when paired with the sauce given, you can kind of imagine it to be an Oyster.
The next cold dish was the Tartare Platter Au Naturel which is a platter of pine nut, Japanese seaweed, avocado, corn, tomato salsa, pomegranate, seagrapes, rice puff. The presentation of the dish was mediocre and when we were told to mixed everything into the small cup, I pretty much did not know what to expect. You can see the results after mixing the items in the cup and it definitely did not look pretty. Regarding the taste, the flavours of each ingredient were pretty much isolated and did not mix well together. I felt I was just eating a mess of things tasting the individual taste and not coherent at all. I should have gone with the cucumber tower which looks much more appetizing.
The next dishes served were the soup. Both the soup came in minute sizes, in fact in most fine dining restaurants, if you are served in such round soup plates, the soup should come up to at least 3 quarters of the dome area. The one served was less than half. The mushroom truffle soup was very dark and has very good flavours. It was creamy and full of flavours but the serving was a letdown
The soup I had was the tomato broth with orzo pasta and garbanzo served with spinach dumpling. The flavours were again tangy and refreshing although the dumpling itself was quite starchy and mediocre. The serving as with the mushroom soup was minute.
The next course was the mains; mine was the risotto with black truffle, cepes and edamame, topped with mascarpone cream and Japanese croquette. The dish came prettily plated but the risotto consistency was quite bad. While you can’t find individual rice, the risotto was clumpy and lumpy which reminded me more of a dried-out Teochew porridge. In terms of taste, there was zero truffle taste except for the slice of black truffle used as a garnish. The only redeeming factor for this dish is the Japanese croquette which was crispy and creamy.
One of the highly popular main dishes is the Grill Summer Mushroom Steak on “Pu-Ye” Hot Stone which is grilled monkey head mushroom on lava stone serve with truffle mash potato. The mushroom was shaped like a steak and grilled on a piece of fragrant leaf on top of a small hot stone. Mash potato and broccoli is served on the side with a beautiful bouquet of deep-fried enoki mushroom used as a garnish for the dish. The texture of the monkey head mushroom felt like meat and tasted lightly smoked but for me, the best part of the dish was the fried enoki mushroom which is extremely crispy.
The 2nd last course of the meal was the drink and we ordered Ice Mallow Apple Melody which was a blend of mallow flowers, apple and guava juice. It came served in a shaker cup and small espresso cup and a dessert fork for eating the apples which are soaked in the juice itself. The drink itself is quite refreshing and sweet with strong guava flavours.
For desserts, we had the red wine poached pear with lime sorbet which came beautifully plated. The pear was deeply infused in red wine showing a red colour but it was not to my liking as it reminded me of cough syrup. The sorbet was the only item I ate on the plate after getting a bite of the pear.
The next dessert came beautifully arranged as well and looked too pretty to eat but it definitely looks much better than it tasted. This was made with layers of red bean and yam with rose glass. When we read this descriptor on the menu, we envisioned a pretty layered cream cake or dessert but when this arrived, it was far from our imagination. The sweet pastry sheets placed in between the red bean and yam paste was nice and crispy but the red bean yam paste was quite weird. It was neither a mousse or a cream paste but kind of an in-between and it also tasted very bland.
Overall, the experience of dining in a fine dining atmosphere tasting innovative meatless cuisine is very interesting but I do not feel the taste of the food matches up to the expectation brought by the atmosphere or the service or even the price especially during dinner. However, if you wish to give this a try, the lunch set is still quite worth it. While the food is not gourmet enough for me, there are some dishes that are tasty enough and at least served in a beautiful way that could be a nice location to have a romantic date.
Address: 181 Orchard Rd, #12-01 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896
Operating hours: 12 pm to 2 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm