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Saturday, 2 January 2016

[Media Invite] Dinner at Joie by Dozo @ Orchard Central

181 Orchard Road #12-01 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896
Tel: 6838 6966

Joie (pronounced as "Joy") by Dozo is a fine-dining meatless (vegetarian) restaurant started and owned by Mr. Huang Yen Kun, who is the owner of the now-defunct, wildly successful DOZO. Joie by Dozo is located at the lush rooftop garden of Orchard Central, offering natural surroundings that also reflects the menu - a menu created by Mr. Huang and his team of chefs who traversed the globe to try different dishes from Michelin-starred restaurants to get insipirations for!   Hence Joie by Dozo was borne, with a mission to bring about a delectable meal that is not only gastronomically adventurous, but also healthy.

Be expected to be enamored by the elegant, posh settings of the restaurant upon entry - beautiful artistically-inclined lights, cushy seats and intimately dim ambience, flanked by the natural beauty of the gardens surrounding it. Private rooms are available - and we had one of these, overlooking lush greens.

Service was impeccable, professional and attentive. When we were seated at first, cups of very aromatic Hot Green Tea with Red Berries were poured for us, to be refilled regularly throughout the course of the meal. The crew, probably under the fine example of the very hands-on Mr. Huang himself - was friendly and knowledgeable.  The snacks served (while waiting for all guests to be present) were sticks of Fried Soba and Fried Vermicelli, well flavoured and crispy - we could not help munching on them.

By the way, this was a media invite attended by representatives of Hungrygowhere and other familiar faces aka reviewers, such as ChubbyBotakkoala and AndMoreFood.  If you think you have been charmed enough by the enchanting interior and exterior settings of this restaurant, let me assured you that when the food is served, the artistic arrangement and plating will blow you away further.

Let the feasting begin...


We had a Chef's Selection of Assorted Platter (subject to changes) to start off with. Loved the Raspberry Sphere which exploded in the mouth in a delicious mush of raspberry goodness; the Carrot Sashimi (made to resemble Hana Maki) which contained a bouncy texture uncannily similar to salmon sashimi, and Crispy Seaweed Cracker topped with wasabi and shimeiji mushrooms. All items were utterly delicious and left us looking forward to the upcoming dishes.


Next, Gratinated Champignons with Mozarella, served with sweet potato wedges, Tennessee potato puree and Belgian endive and foccacia. This dish boldly simulates the signature French escargots; even the buoyant texture of the Champignon mushroom mushrooms resembled that of the escargots. The gratin was flavourful and cheesey; the burnt edges especially crispy, and one couldn't stop digging at the dish till the entire pan was emptied out literally.

Following that, we had the Matsutake Cake - steamed Japanese mushroom cake with rosemary gel, golden enoki and crème patisserie with pistachio crumbs. The cake was soft but sticky, like glutinuous rice cake, only redolent with the earthly aroma and taste of mushroom. One only had to douse some drops of crème patisserie onto the mushroom cake and it would be moistened with a creaminess to boost, or munch one of the crispy enokis for an extra bite.

The Tempura Platter on Mash was another exciting dish - the mashed fruits (yam, eggplant, banana, apple or jackfruit etc) were all coated in charcoal black layer of truffle. The appearance might have been intimidating, but the actual bite was nothing less than an inviting landing of the teeth upon slightly-crispy truffled grounds paving the way into the soft, sweet core of fruits.

Transparency of Manchego Cheese was served on exquisite, heavy and beautiful double-layered plates and topped lovingly with cherry tomatoes, peppers in red, green and yellow, croutons, walnuts and black olives. This was like a bespoke dish containing my favorites all tossed into one, each ingredient fresh and distinctive.


Next, the iconic Zucchini Tower - belts of sliced zucchini stuffed with crème cheese, truffle mayo, coiled around a medallion puff pastry and served with beetroot sphere on the side. The refreshing strips of zucchini were crunchy with natural sweetness heightened by the stuffings and given an extra bite with the puff pastry. The beetroot sphere was luscious and exploded tastefully in the palate.

Then Tartare Platter Au Natural, where a prettily arrangement of items was served on a round tray, and we had to pour everything into the glass cup in the middle to toss and enjoy. The ingredients consisted of rice puffs, seagrapes, pomegranite, pine nuts, Japanese seaweed, avocado, corn and tomato salsa. This greatly resembled our favorite breakfast containing various grains, fruits and nuts, giving a variety of flavours and textures - very enjoyable to munch on, spoonful after spoonful.

The Vegetable Sashimi on Ice with Quail Egg Shooter Glass was easily one of my favorites, looking exactly like the Japanese sashimi platter and tasting hauntingly like it, too. Loved the Carrot Sashimi best; it represented the classic salmon sashimi very closely, in texture and even flavour, so we asked for a separate additional platter of this.

The Konjac aka Magic Yam (or known as "wai san" in Cantonese or "魔芋" in Chinese") had a slightly starchy flavour and was delicious eaten on its own, not as a representation of squid sashimi. The Pear Sashimi was sweet and fresh. Loved the rolled-up Coconut strips and Quail Egg Shooter too - the latter giving a unique blend of taste and flavour. The Blueberry Pearls that represented caviar were another brilliant creation exuding with luscious goodness.

Following that, we had the Dragon Fruit Lotus with Truffle Vegetable Garden. The fresh red dragonfruit was adorned with Japanese dressing to add a hint of taste to its natural nectarous juiciness; the truffled salad was made up of purple Japanese yam and other fresh greens infused with truffle's aroma.

Next, a gorgeous dish simply named "Tomato" - cherry tomatoes prepared in different ways, topped wth greens and lotus crisps. The tomatoes were juicy and sweet; I could easily have another plate of these sweethearts.


For soups, we had the Infusion of Cepes and Truffle, robust and perfumed with white winter truffle oil and black truffle. I personally enjoyed the stronger flavour of this creamy soup immensely, reveling in the sapid goodness of rich fungus flavours.

Next, the Snow Pear and Napa Cabbage Consommé - double-boiled vegetables stock with baby pear and almonds served in a dainty little teapot. This clear broth was straddling between the lines of sweet and savoury, easy on the palate and delicious.

The Clear Tomato Broth with Garbanzo was made up of tomato, chickpea, orzo pasta and spinach dumpling. The soup itself was strikingly similar to minestrone in taste, making it an appetite-whetter, but what I loved most were the spinach dumplings which melted deliciously like paste upon the tongue.

Finally, Pumpkin Velouté - with tomato ciabatta and edible petals, a simple but delectable soup bearing the distinctive sweetness of pumpkin.  I enjoyed the smoothness of the soup but the love ended here, since I am not a pumpkin fan.


Moving on to the mains, we had the Wild Rice with Eggplant Terrine, comprising sautéed wild rice with baby radish, pine nuts, baby carrot and haricot very with eggplant terrine. The wild rice dish was delicious and I enjoyed the grainy bites; but what really got my attention was the eggplant terrine. Cutting and chewing through the layers was almost squashy, giving it a crunchy texture that disintegrated into sweetness upon the palate.

Next, the Grilled Bai-Ling Steak on "Pu-Ye" Hot Stone, served with mash - one of the most beautifully artistic dish I have ever come across, encompassing all the elements of nature on the table itself. The huge Bai Ling mushroom would represent a huge abalone in this case, resting on a huge leaf upon the granite stone. It was still sizzling gently when placed on the table. The Bai Ling mushroom steak was succulent, chewy and exuded the earthly tastiness of white mushrooms.

The Hedgehog Summer Mushroom comprised braised and fried monkey head mushroom with Oriental spices, celeriac purée, and truffle foam. Classically knows as Herciium Erinaceus, this may also be known by many other names such as Lion's Mane Mushroom, Bear's Head Mushrooms, Sheep's Tooth Mushroom, Hedgehog Mushroms etc. It is considered as one of the precious rare mushrooms, and one of the Chinese's "four delicacies" as well as a brain tonic.  I loved the crackling texture of this fried mushroom, with a firm interior that was redolent in mushroom's sweetness.

Following that, we tried the Duo Ravioli Platter, made up of pumpkin and spinach ravioli, flower emulsion and basil cream sauce. The smooth ravioli were cheesy and mushy with its ingredients, melting across the tongue like a dream; the basil cream added a grassy hint to the flavour, further enhancing its scumptiousness.

Next, Truffle Risotto, a common French dish made uncommon by the rich and harmonious infusion of black truffle, cepes, edamamme, mascarpone cream and parmesan crisp. The added touch of edamamme beans was to me, simply brilliant - so we took a spoonful of risotto with edamamme, and it instantly added bite to the softer, grainier texture of the rice. Loved the parmesan crisps as well, added flavour and texture further to the brilliant pasta dish.

Finally, Trio Platter of Quinoa, Pumpkin Risotto Sphere and White Asparagus. Quinoa is one of my all time favorites; the deep-fried pumpkin risotto ball was crispy on the outside and saccharine in flavour; white asparagus was sweet as well, a rare and precious form of asparagus.

Some drinks soothed the palate while we waited for the tantalising desserts to be served.

Before the mains commenced, we had some refreshing, citrusy welcome drinks served on ice.

After the mains were consumed, we had some very colorful pots of fruity teas (both hot and cold). I personally loved the Hot Rosalle Rhythm and the Ice Mallow Apple Melody teas the best - distinctive flavours that were pleasing to the soul.

The Mocktail of Love was an uplifting mix of cranberry, orange and pineapple - some of them found it to be too sweet but I thought it was tolerable level of sweetness.  This is perfect for lovers to indulge together, of course.

Finally, the mandatory delicacies after mains - desserts!

There was Red Wine Poached Pear with Vanilla Ice-Cream - wine and poached being two of my favoritest things in the world, so this dessert might have been biasedly good in my humble opinions. The soft, juicy poached pear was nectarous with the blessed union of pear's natural flavour infused with red wine's bittersweet notes; the vanilla ice-cream was a lovely complement.

Next, the Truffle Crème Brulee, with its crispy caramel top coat and creamy curd was unfortunately not one of our favorites of the night. The introduction of truffle into this creamy dessert did not sit well, its robust flavour standing out against the dessert instead of blending, obliterating all other elements stubbornly.

Moving on, we had Cheese Cake with pistachio crisps on the side. The cheesecake was creamy in taste but light in texture, like the soft touch of butterfly's wings upon the tip of the tongue. The nutty crisps added bites and flavour.

Then Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice-Cream - moistened, rich and luscious, latching warmly to the palate in its sticky form, filling the mouth with chocolatey goodness.

Finally, Yogurt Pudding, concluding the night with another favorites of mine. It was served in a jar, filled with some crusps and berries within - a healthy and tasty dessert that we could feel free to indulge in without much guilt factor.

Overall, the dining experience at Joie by Dozo was almost perfect - the initial impressions of the sophisticated settings, excellent service and delectable, healthy food remained unwavered throughout the course of the 3-hour meal. The standard and decor of food was so impressive here, it is easy to forget that the meal contained no meat at all, but do note that ingredients may comprise eggs, onions, garlic, cheese and other dairy items that may not be suitable for strict vegetarian or vegan diners.

Price-wise, they have set lunch at SGD$38.80 for 6 courses and set dinner at SGD$68.80 for 7 courses, so it makes for a reasonably-priced meal, especially for lunch.

Thank you Mr. Huang and Joie by Dozo for the fascinating dining experience, as well as Hungrygowhere for the invite.

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